An Israeli intelligence company pursued activists affiliated with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
An investigation published by the New Yorker on Monday revealed that Psy Group Company – which had been involved in an investigation by US special investigator Robert Mueller into allegations of interference in the 2016 US presidential elections – had offered its services to a group of Israeli donors in New York within the framework of a campaign against the BDS movement.
The New Yorker's investigation showed Psy Group was involved in a campaign devoted to defaming BDS activists at US universities. The Israeli intelligence company offered pro-Israel donors the chance to gather information about the activists and cause "internal instability" in allegedly anti-Israel organisations.
The investigation also mentioned that "the company's employees have searched the Internet, including social media websites and the Dark Web, to find embarrassing information about the BDS activists," with the aim of posting this in the public domain using websites that cannot be linked to the company or its supporters.
The report noted that $2.5 million had been invested in the project, focusing on ten US universities.
According to the investigation, the company received consulting services in the management of the project by former deputy director of the Mossad, Ram Ben Barak, and former National Security Advisor of Israel, Yaakov Amidror.
Psy Group Company had previously made an offer to US President Donald Trump's election campaign team to run a defamation campaign against his political opponents.
The name of the company – which was first disclosed last year – only made headlines for the first time following reports that Mueller's investigation time has been interested in its role in the US presidential elections. Investigators expressed special interest in the meeting held by the company's founder, Joel Zamel, with the US president's son and political adviser Donald Trump Jr. during the election campaign.
During the meeting, Zamel – who holds Israeli citizenship and is originally from Australia – offered to manage an online defamation campaign against Trump's political opponents, using fake social media accounts. The meeting was also attended by Lebanese-American businessman, George Nader, the special adviser to United Arab Emirates (UAE) Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
According to US reports, Nader is a key focus of Mueller's investigations into Trump's relations with Russia. The investigations extended over time to include the possibility that Middle Eastern countries illegally intervened in Trump's favour during the elections.
Although Psy Group's founder, Zamel, admitted after the US elections that he had helped Trump to reach the White House, in response to the New Yorker he denied that he had provided any services to Trump's campaign.