agency revealedReutersIn a serious report today, Wednesday, about the involvement of three former agents of the American intelligence in espionage and electronic hacking of computer networks in their countries for the benefit of the UAE.
The agency stated that the three agents confessed before a federal court in Virginia that they participated in an information hacking operation for the Emirates account that targeted its opponents.
The three employees, according to the agency, are Mark Baer, Ryan Adams, and Daniel Gerrick, and were part of a secret unit called Project Raven that helped the UAE spy on its enemies.
The Reuters report revealed that, at the request of the ruling regime in the UAE, the Raven project team hacked the accounts of human rights activists, journalists and rival governments.
The US Department of Justice is investigating
For its part, the US Department of Justice said in a statement that US citizens Mark Baer and Ryan Adams, and former citizen Daniel Gerecki, agreed to a deal with the US authorities imposing some restrictions on their activities, and pledged to pay one million and 685,000 dollars to the US authorities in compensation.
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The Ministry of Justice statement indicated that the defendants provided the Emirati company with “defense services” that required obtaining a special license from the Department of Defense Trade Control (DDTC) of the US State Department.
According to the ministry, the three men previously worked in US intelligence services, including the National Security Agency and in the military, before they participated from 2016 to 2019 in carrying out cyber attacks launched by an Emirati company linked to the UAE government on various targets, in particular on computer servers in the United States. .
The statement pointed out that one of the hacking operations they participated in allowed them to hack “tens of millions” of smartphones.
The department added that the Virginia federal court agreed to defer for three years the prosecutions in this complex case that highlights the global piracy market; Where governments recruit foreign cyber security experts to spy on their enemies.
In addition to the fines, the three men were stripped of their US security clearances, banned from engaging with the US intelligence community, and from further hacking.
Bayer will pay $750,000, Adams will pay $600,000, and Gerecki will pay $335,000 over three years.
Abu Dhabi’s goals of recruiting former clients within its project were not limited to gaining experience from these clients only, but also sought a wide espionage and hacking operations for computers and phones of prominent personalities and Arab leaders.
The UAE and the “Pegasus” Spy Program
It is noteworthy that on July 18 the organization published “Forbidden Stories“The non-governmental organizations stationed in France and 17 different media outlets reported that there are several countries, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Morocco, that used the program”Pegasus“The Israeli Designed Company”NSO GroupTo spy on 50,000 Prime Time Zone around the world.
And the Public Prosecution Office in Paris announced, at the time, the opening of investigations into these allegations, indicating that if they were proven true, this would be “extremely dangerous.”
At that time, French President Emmanuel Macron also held a special meeting at the Elysee Palace to discuss the issue of Pegasus.
Emirate of Spy
It is noteworthy that the Gulf emirate, whose indigenous population does not exceed one million, has developed a comprehensive cyber attack activity within ten years.
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A newspaper previously said,If it staysThe French said in a report that the United Arab Emirates, after placing its citizens under surveillance, had used spyware against foreigners, including senior Lebanese, Iraqi and Yemeni leaders.
The newspaper added that in the world of technological surveillance, as in many other fields, the UAE outperforms its class of countries. The Gulf emirate, which has a native population of barely a million, has developed a mass cyber attack activity in the span of ten years.
Just as the UAE has equipped itself with an unusually powerful army for a state in the Arabian Peninsula, the union of the seven emirates, led by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, has become a heavyweight in digital espionage.
This is one of the lessons of an investigative investigation coordinated by Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International based on a list of 50,000 phone numbers that have been identified or targeted since 2016 – not all of which have been hacked – by ten countries that are customers of Israel’s NSO. The Pegasus spyware group.
The newspaper pointed out that in this huge record, which was shared with “Le Monde” and sixteen other media outlets, 10,000 numbers were entered to be spied on, for the account of the UAE.
The newspaper said that it is a highly sophisticated software, Pegasus can not only pull content from a smartphone, including messages exchanged on applications such as “WhatsApp” and “Signal”, but also turn the device, surreptitiously, into a microphone.
Since the investigative team was unable to search all smartphones matching these 10,000 numbers for technical traces of the intrusion, it is not possible at this point to determine how many devices have actually been compromised.
Of the 67 phones that Le Monde and its partners in the Pegasus investigation project were able to examine, 37 showed evidence of being hacked by the Israeli spyware.
Le Monde said that Abu Dhabi authorities were contacted on multiple occasions to comment on the information. For its part, the Israeli “NSO” company questions the accuracy of the information published by the editorial team of the “Pegasus Project” investigation, speaking of “false accusations” and “unfounded theories.”
The number of Prime Time Zone that the Emirati intelligence services have taken care of in recent years is very high. This activity bears the mark of “Mohammed bin Zayed”, a well-trained military man, for his highly flexible understanding of national security and his love of covert operations.
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