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Israeli sources: 'Tel Aviv uses UAE to spy on Qatar, Iran and Hezbollah'

October 19, 2019 at 1:34 pm

The Aldar Headquarters building in Abu Dhabi, UAE, home to the UAE’s controversial DarkMatter cyber security company [undated]

Sources in Israel have revealed that Israeli intelligence officers in the reserve army are working in private companies, some of which are linked to the UAE’s intelligence services, and pointed to the immigration of brains abroad.

Dr. Ronen Bergman, intelligence editor for Yedioth Ahronoth, cited a former Israeli officer, whose identity has not been revealed, referring to him as “A”, stating that he was surprised to receive a phone call from an Israeli soldier who ended his military service in a cyber specialised intelligence unit, and works today to develop offensive electronic tools for an Arab country.

Bergman explained “I was surprised by the call. I thought it was a joke at first. The tools he is developing can be used to spy on the IDF commander and hack his mobile phone. The soldier told me that he had cut ties with Israel after he finished his military service. However, I told him that he is damaging the Israeli security apparatus by developing such spying tools, and that people like him should be in prison.”

The Israeli officer, “A”, explained that the looming issue is that the cyber-expert soldier was not arrested, and there are many others like him. Bergman asserted that the call disturbed and motivated him to investigate the phenomenon. He discovered that a significant number of graduates of secret and highly developed intelligence units in the Israeli army are working with different parties worldwide.

Bergman also indicated that these graduates work for parties and private companies, in return for huge compensations, away from the eyes of the Israeli security services. He revealed  “sometimes we do not know which companies are employing these Israelis, and what their real goals are.”

Officer “A” considers that the biggest problem today is that many countries acquire the accumulated knowledge of the Israeli army, in exchange for obscene amounts of financial reward, reaching $100,000 per month. He divulged that for such large amounts, the boundaries between what is, and what is not allowed, are blurred.

Dark Matter

Yedioth Ahronoth also reported that graduates of Israeli secret intelligence units, such as Unit 8200 and the military intelligence technology unit, work for foreign companies, some of which are Arab-owned.

To prove this, the newspaper mentioned the work of the Dark Matter Company, the commercial arm of the UAE’s cyber intelligence department, which hires Israeli officers from the reserve army. Yedioth Ahronoth also referred to the work of Israeli security companies operating abroad, which recruit graduates of Israeli intelligence units, warning that valuable information would be available to many foreign countries opposing Zionism.

Regarding the financial temptations, the newspaper exposed the data and content of correspondence between a graduate officer of Unit 8200 and a “head hunter”, an employee who recruits leading experts and professionals to work for private companies. In one of these correspondences, the Israeli army reserve officer asked for a major salary, noting that he would not accept less than $40,000 a month. The head hunter told the officer that the salary is in excess of $40,000. In another call, the head hunter proposed that the Israeli officer brings his colleagues from the cyber security department at Unit 8200, in exchange for a villa on the sea and a salary of $100,000 per month.

Yedioth Ahronoth pointed out that the technological units in the Israeli security establishment are considered, since the nineties, as a greenhouse for the industries of Israeli high tech, noting that officers move after the end of their military service to work in the free market without restriction. The newspaper referred to the existence of a private Israeli spy company specialising in tracking and hacking mobile phones, and various applications through the spyware Pegasus, which helps tyrannical countries to pursue oppositionists, journalists and human rights activists.

The newspaper also reported that these Israeli technologies were sold to the UAE to spy on Qatar, Hezbollah, Iran and ISIS for tens of millions of dollars, in addition to significant amounts spent on each cyber-attack carried out against a specific party determined by the UAE.

Between Cyprus and Dubai

Yedioth Ahronoth quoted foreign sources stating that the UAE paid the Israeli NSO Group Technologies around $100,000,000, in addition to other exorbitant amounts paid by the UAE to other cyber espionage companies, for various services.

The newspaper conveyed that “despite the tempting compensations, the Israeli company refused to hack the mobile phones of Israeli and US officials. But, the UAE has decided to become a superpower in the field of cyber spying. Suddenly, the Israeli company witnessed a strange phenomenon, which consisted of the resignation of several employees and experts, despite the fact that they were paid generously under various pretexts. After investigating the incident, through hiring an investigation company, NSO Group Technologies discovered that some of its employees work for an Emirati company in the city of Limassol in Cyprus, run by a German citizen of Dubai.”

After the disclosure of this information, the Israeli company went to the Dark Matter Company, based in Dubai, to complain. Emirati officials told the Israeli company that the Israeli officers are the ones who sought to join the Emirati company, and that there were other graduates from Unit 8200, who work for the same company from Singapore and other countries.

Yedioth Ahronoth confirmed that the Dark Matter Company was established in 2014 by the UAE government’s technological information collection department, which funds the company and obtains a lot of information from it.  Its central offices are based in Abu Dhabi.

The newspaper also revealed that the UAE company is pursuing Emirati and foreign nationals, including Americans and opponents of the ruling regime. It quoted various sources who confirmed that the Israeli security services are aware of this, but refused to arrest these soldiers and officers working in espionage companies’ units with foreign countries, hinting that the reason behind such reluctance is not only judicial.

The newspaper affirmed that the Israeli authorities did not arrest these officers, because it is not clear that they violated the Israeli law, suggesting that the real reason is the interconnected and secretive relations between Israel and the UAE, and that the former uses the latter as an advanced base to spy on Iran.

Shared Dance

Yedioth Ahronoth quoted a former senior Israeli security source confirming that there was a “double dance” taking place, adding that Israel has many significant shared interests and strategically important relations with the UAE, allowing Israeli authorities to turn a blind eye to Dark Matter.

The same source revealed that the Emirati company recently recruited a large number of Israeli reserve army officers, with an advantage for graduates of the Unit 8200 attached to the Israeli army, for $1,000,000 a year per officer. However, the newspaper condemned the Israeli authorities who are trying to justify what is happening, and warned that the phenomenon is dangerous and would help those who want to spy on Israel, or to prosecute journalists and human rights activists in countries governed by authoritarian regimes, using cyber-attacks and hacking mobile phones, private computers and other devices.

This article was first published in Arabic by Al-Quds-Al-Arabi.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.