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In Brief | Nation & World | 12-13-13


American missing in Iran was working for CIA on unapproved intelligence mission

WASHINGTON — An American who vanished nearly seven years ago in Iran was working for the CIA on an unapproved intelligence-gathering mission that, when it came to light inside the government, produced one of the most serious scandals in the recent history of the CIA — but all in secret, an Associated Press investigation found.

The CIA paid Robert Levinson’s family $2.5 million to head off a revealing lawsuit. Three veteran analysts were forced out of the agency and seven others were disciplined.

The U.S. publicly has described Levinson as a private citizen.

That was just a cover story. In an extraordinary breach of the most basic CIA rules, a team of analysts — with no authority to run spy operations — paid Levinson to gather intelligence from some of the world’s darkest corners. He vanished while investigating the Iranian regime for the U.S. government.

North Korea executes leader’s uncle calling him a traitor and ‘worse than a dog’

PYONGYANG, North Korea — North Korea on Friday announced the execution of Kim Jong Un’s uncle, calling the leader’s former mentor a traitor who tried to overthrow the state.

The announcement came only days after Pyongyang announced through state media that Jang Song Thaek — long considered the country’s No. 2 power — had been removed from all his posts because of allegations of corruption, drug use, gambling, womanizing and leading a “dissolute and depraved life.”

The state news agency KCNA said a tribunal examined Jang’s crimes, including “attempting to overthrow the state by all sorts of intrigues and despicable methods with a wild ambition to grab the supreme power of our party and state.”

The report called him “a traitor to the nation” and “worse than a dog.”

Jang was seen as helping Kim Jong Un consolidate power after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, two years ago. Jang was the latest and most significant in a series of personnel reshuffles that Kim has conducted in an apparent effort to bolster his power.

Mysterious ‘white widow’: Lewthwaite spins tangled web, eludes capture

AYLESBURY, England — She is called the most wanted woman in the world, a suspected terrorist charged with plotting to blow up resort hotels in Kenya packed with Christmas tourists, a Westerner who wrote an ode praising Osama bin Laden, a jihadist who has eluded the law even as she has traveled through Africa with four young children in tow.

Samantha Lewthwaite’s saga is one of betrayal and revenge in a murky world where, somehow, a white woman born to a British soldier becomes a Muslim convert and then an international fugitive accused of conspiracy.

Her first husband blew himself up as part of Britain’s worst ever terrorist attack in 2005, an act she first condemned — and her second partner adhered to the same militant brand of Islam and also apparently met an early death. Her notebooks, seized in 2011, are filled with lavish praise for extremists who slaughter civilians and hopes that her children will do the same.

And yet, since she disappeared some months after the London bombing, no one can say how the “white widow” became radicalized, moving from mainstream Islam to a “holy war” against the West — or why she would embrace a movement that denies a woman’s right to education and other basic liberties.

“That is the mystery,” said Niknam Hussain, a community organizer and former Aylesbury mayor. There was never a hint that Lewthwaite had chosen jihad during her years in Aylesbury, the small English city 40 miles northwest of London where she grew up.

By wire sources