Turkiye’s National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) is revealed to have saved a Palestinian hacker from being abducted or assassinated by the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, in the latest revelation of MIT’s counter-operations against its Israeli counterpart.
Named by Turkish media outlets as ‘Omar A’, reportedly a computer programming graduate of the Islamic University of Gaza, is credited as being the architect of hacking software for Gaza’s Interior Ministry which can infiltrate cell phones operating on Android, as well as hacking into Israel’s notorious ‘Iron Dome’ air defence system.
In 2015 and 2016, that action taken by Omar A reportedly helped the Palestinian Resistance group Hamas’s political wing – the Al-Qassam Brigades – launch rockets toward Israel without being adequately intercepted
According to the Daily Sabah newspaper, however, Israeli intelligence managed to trace disruptions to the hacker after three years of research, adding him to a Mossad list as a potential target. In an effort to lure him for capture to be taken to Tel Aviv for interrogation, the agency anonymously offered him a job through a Norwegian software company in 2019, but he declined due to suspicions of Israeli involvement.
In 2020, he moved to Istanbul in Turkiye, where a Mossad agent named Raed Ghazal, posing as the human rights manager of the French company, Think Hire, offered a job to Omar the following year, interviewing him twice and attempting to get him to join the company. Another Mossad operative named Omar Shalabi contacted him from the same alleged company and convinced Omar to complete a software coding project for $10,000.
Another Mossad operative under the name Nikola Radonij – accompanied by three others working for Israeli intelligence and posing as a team of “developers” – then contacted the Palestinian hacker in June 2022 and offered him a job, either in Brazil or in Istanbul, while encouraging him to travel abroad. MIT, which reportedly knew of Omar’s status and had been monitoring his situation, intervened and warned the hacker from travelling.
Late last year, he then travelled to Malaysia for a vacation, where he was kidnapped in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, and taken to a remote cabin around 50 kilometres away. The hacker was interrogated and tortured by individuals working for Mossad, with the agency’s operatives joining via video call from Tel Aviv, questioning Omar on his methods of infiltrating the Iron Dome system and his construction of the phone hacking software.
As MIT had covertly installed tracking software into Omar’s phone prior to his travel, the agency was able to pinpoint the location where he was held and Turkish officials contacted Malaysian authorities, allowing the county’s security forces to raid the cabin and rescue the hacker. The Malaysians also arrested 11 suspects in the process who were connected to the abduction.
Following the ordeal, Omar reportedly returned to Turkiye and was taken to a safe house provided by MIT, ensuring his protection from being further targeted by Mossad. The case is the latest intelligence bust to have been conducted by Turkish intelligence against their Israeli counterparts in recent years, capturing Mossad operatives and suspects who had been spying on Iranians and Palestinians within Turkiye.