[Editor’s note: There is a lot more to this story than there appears to be from a superficial study; with some background knowledge, wide-ranging implications become clear.
This is an instance of the Saudi and Israeli intelligence communities working together, something we know they have done for decades, not least when they jointly planned and carried out the 9-11 attacks.
NSO Group Technologies is clearly a front for Israeli intelligence – it is based on the Herzliya campus which is owned and operated by Israeli intelligence and is widely known to be their ‘university’ where they train their employees and assets.
As with many other Israeli companies that are ostensibly privately owned and operated, NSO is run by ex-military and ex-intelligence personnel, including members of Unit 8200, which is the group at the heart of the NSA-Wikileaks fake news operation that has blighted world affairs in recent years.
How it works is that under a secret deal signed during the Bush Jr administration, the NSA passes all of it’s raw surveillance data straight to Unit 8200 where it is filtered, manipulated and edited to produce fraudulent information that can then be leaked to the public and media via Wikileaks, another Mossad front.
Unit 8200 happens to be located on the same Herzliya campus as NSO and it is obvious that NSO is nothing more than a front for Unit 8200 staffed by Unit 8200 personnel using the cover of being formerly employed by Unit 8200. This is common practice in the intelligence world, it gives the intelligence services. a degree of plausible deniability to farm out nefarious operations to fronts such as NSO.
So what this story amounts to is that the Israeli intelligence community is allowing the Saudis full use of their assets, particularly their electronic surveillance capabilities. This is something VT has known for years, but it is now in the public domain, albeit masked by a veil of fronts like NSO. Ian]
Report: Saudi Arabia Used Israeli Cyberweapons to Target Dissident in Canada
Agents apparently linked to the Saudi regime used spy technology from Israeli firm NSO Group Technologies to eavesdrop on a Saudi dissident in Canada, according to a report on Monday.
The Citizen Lab research group said it had “high confidence” that NSO’s Pegasus software had been used this summer to eavesdrop on a 27-year-old Saudi exile, Omar Abdulaziz.
According to the report, which was picked up by Canadian daily The Globe and Mail, the aim was to access the iPhone of Abdulaziz, who lives in Montreal and has been a prominent critic of the Saudi government on social media.
Any such use of eavesdropping technology by a foreign government would constitute illegal wiretapping, Citizen Lab Director Ron Deibert told the daily.
The case comes against the backdrop of a diplomatic crisis between Ottawa and Riyadh, following criticism in August by Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland over the jailing of women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia. She also called for their release.
Saudi Arabia called the minister’s comments a violation of its sovereignty and in response suspended diplomatic and trade ties with Canada. Riyadh also brought home thousands of Saudi university students who had been studying in Canada.
In July, Citizen Lab researchers issued a warning that misleading messages about protests in Saudi Arabia were being used to target cellphones, including that of a regional Amnesty International researcher. Last month, the University of Toronto research group claimed that at least 36 governments were making use of NSO’s services. It also claimed there was a high degree of probability that Saudi Arabia was among them. Suspected Pegasus software infections were found in Canada, Britain, France and Morocco, in addition to Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Qatar and Bahrain, Citizen Lab said.
In August, it was reported that the United Arab Emirates had used NSO software to track 159 members of the Qatari royal family. And lawsuits recently filed in Israel and Cyprus alleged that the rulers of the UAE used Pegasus for more than a year to monitor opponents of the regime both inside the emirate and abroad.
For its part, NSO has said it “develops products that are licensed only to legitimate government agencies for the sole purpose of investigating and preventing crime and terror.” Its software, the company said, has been used to help prevent suicide attacks, to help convict drug lords and to locate missing children. It did not specify which governments make use of its technology. “The product will not operate outside of approved countries,” its statement said.