A joint report by several media organizations around the world and Amnesty International has revealed that the Israeli intelligence-linked NSO Group has provided an invasive smart phone tracking software known as Pegasus to some of the world’s most brutal regimes to spy on journalists, politicians, and human rights advocates. The conclusions about NSO Group and Pegasus provide addition proof that Israel’s intentions are predominantly malign in the area of intelligence and security operations.
NSO Group and, by default, its Mossad backers stand accused of promoting “digital violence” and “state terror” by tracking the activities of journalists and activists, which, in some cases, have led to their assassinations by repressive governments. From its headquarters in Herzliya north of Tel Aviv — which is where Mossad headquarters is also located — NSO Group, using a network of subsidiaries, front companies, and holding companies, including OSY Holdings Ltd, OSY Technologies Sarl of Luxembourg, WestBridge Technologies, Inc of Bethesda, Maryland, Iota Holdings Ltd of Cyprus, Cyber Technologies Sarl, Circles Bulgaria, Q Cyber Technologies Sarl of Saudi Arabia, Eyetech Solutions of Mexico, Novalpina Capital Partners I Luxco Sarl, Global Hubcom of Cyprus, CI-Compass of Cyprus, MS Magnet Solutions of Cyprus, NAC 2013 of Delaware, Global Seven Group LP of the British Virgin Islands, Convexum, LI-Trade Company of Hong Kong, Francisco Partners Management LLC, CT-Circles Technologies of Cyprus, Grifindail LP of the British Virgin Islands, CS-Circles Solutions Ltd of the United Arab Emirates, and CS-Circles Solutions of Cyprus has placed smart phone hacking and surveillance capabilities into the hands of the governments of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and its constituent Emirate of Dubai, Kazakhstan, Mexico, India, Morocco, Bahrain, Democratic Republic of Congo, Azerbaijan, Rwanda, Algeria, Uganda, Togo, Egypt, Hungary, and others that have close links to Mossad. During 2016 and 2017, disgraced former Defense Intelligence Agency director and Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn provided unspecified consulting services for NSO’s subsidiary, OSY Technologies. Other reports have stated that the security and intelligence services of Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Botswana, Nigeria, Zambia, Australia, Denmark, Estonia, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Serbia, Belgium, Peru, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Panama, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe are all Pegasus customers.
NSO technology has been linked to the brutal Saudi execution in Istanbul of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, as well as the murder in Mexico of journalist Cecilio Pineda. In a number of cases, Pegasus was used to spy on the children, siblings, and other close relatives of targeted journalists. It has been disclosed by the consortium of researchers that Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancée, a Turkish national, was also subjected to Pegasus surveillance by Saudi Arabia, as was Khashoggi’s son, Abdullah Khashoggi.
Pegasus was employed by Indian intelligence against journalists with The Hindu, Hindustan Times, the Indian Express, India Today, Tribune, The Wire, and The Pioneer.
One of the most egregious uses of the Israeli software has been by the Mexican police and allied criminal syndicates to spy on Centro Prodh, the Mexican human rights organization that has been investigating the 2014 murder, and forcible disappearance of several dozens of students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College. The students were attacked, kidnapped, and killed, in Iguala in Guerrero state.
The “Pegasus Project” media consortium compiled a list of over 50,000 phone numbers in some 50 countries that were targeted by Pegasus spyware. The numbers are claimed to be those “selected for targeting” by NSO client security and intelligence agencies.
Pegasus malware “Trojan horses” with names like BridgeHead, PiXcell, and Pegasus Anonymizing Transmission Network (PATN) inject themselves into targeted smart phones by attaching to such messaging systems as iMessage, Gmail, Facebook, WhatsApp, FaceTime, Viber, WeChat, Telegram, Skype, Apple’s built-in messaging and email apps (including Apple Music), and others. WhatsApp sued NSO Group in 2019 for manipulating its software to spy on WhatsApp users who rely on the software to encrypt their communications. Microsoft, Google, and other firms have joined in the suit against the Israeli company.
Targeted domains of Pegasus include allafricaninfo.com, apiapple.com, arabnews365.com, arabworldnews.info, beethoventopsymphonies.com, bestfoods.co, breakingnewsasia.com,
carrefour-des-affaires.com, casia-news.info, centrasia-news.com, chocollife.me, columbus-parking.com, coolbbqtools.net, cryptocurrency.com, cryptokoinz.com, cryptopcoinz.com,
daily-sport.news, domain-redirect.com, domainsearching.net, domain-security.org,
easybett.online, economic-news.co, editorscolumn.net, ehistorybooks.com,
eltiempo-news.com, eurasianupdate.com, eurosportnews.info, event-reg.info,
ex-forexlive.com, fabric-shops.com, fiestamaghreb.com, findavoucher.online,
flights-todays.com, freelancers-team.org, funnytvclips.com, golf-news.live, go-trip.online,
gulf-news.info, hotels-review.org, income-tax.online, infospress.com,
investigationews.com, in-weather.com, islamic-news-today.com, islamiyaat.com, islam-today.info, islam-world.net, karbalaeyat.com, kingdom-news.com, leprotestant.com,
mercedesbenz-vip.com, mideast-today.com, mobileweatherweb.com,
moneycoincurrency.com, moneydigitalcurrency.com, moneyxchanges.com,
mosque-salah.com, mosquesfinder.com, movie-tickets.online, muslim-world.info,
mylovelypet.net, mypostservice.online, nation24.info, newscurrent.info,
news-gazette.info, newworld-news.com, nouvelles247.com, novosti247.com,
online-dailynews.com, park4free.info, paywithcrytpo.com, pizzatoyourplace.com,
politica504.com, politicalpress.org, politiques-infos.info, shia-voice.com,
sputnik-news.info, starbuckscoffeeweb.com, theastafrican.com, traffic-pay.com,
viedechretien.org, vie-en-islam.com, weatherapi.co, and zm-banks.com.
NSO Group Technologies Ltd was founded in Israel in 2010 by Niv Carmi, Shalev Hulio, and Omri Lavie, all former members of Israel’s signals intelligence service and U.S. National Security Agency partner, Unit 8200. At first, NSO surveillance technologies were used against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. Soon, NSO surveillance technologies were in use by over 45 countries around the world.
There are links between NSO Group and the private Israeli intelligence company, Black Cube, which harassed and intimidated journalists investigating Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. Black Cube also harassed Weinstein’s sexual assault victims who were testifying against him for rape. In addition, Black Cube was hired by Trump administration officials to dig up dirt on two former Obama administration officials, Colin Kahl and Ben Rhodes. In 2018, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban hired Black Cube to engage in an anti-Semitic campaign against his opposition, accusing them of conspiring with billionaire investor George Soros. Orban is also reported to have been a customer for Pegasus surveillance software supplied by the NSO Group.
One looming question remains. Are China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia receiving the blame for cyber-intrusions in cases where the actual culprit is Israel and its friends in friendly intelligence agencies and the criminal underworld?
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
Copyright © 2021 WayneMadenReport.com
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist, author and nationally-distributed columnist. A member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the National Press Club. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).