the usual suspects (from katz to dershowitz)

Did the Toads use Israeli technology to spy on Khashoggi?
Tamara Nassar, Electronic Intifada, Nov 14 2018

The Toads may have used Israeli technology to spy on Jamal Khashoggi. One day before Khashoggi’s disappearance, University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab published an investigation revealing that one of Khashoggi’s close friends, Omar Abd’ul-Aziz, was likely to have been spied on by the Toads using Israeli technology, adding that Khashoggi was targeted as well. The investigation revealed:

We have high confidence that the cellphone of Omar Abdulaziz, a Saudi activist and Canadian permanent resident, was targeted and infected with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware.

The malware, called Pegasus, is made by the Israeli cyber-warfare company NSO Group and is only sold to governments. Pegasus hacks smartphones by sending the targeted device a compelling message that contains a link. If the recipient clicks on the link, the system installs sophisticated malware on the device that can go undetected and send information back to those doing the spying. Data that can be obtained through Pegasus includes locations, recordings, screenshots, email and text messages, passwords and photographs. Bill Marczak of Citizen Lab told CNN in October:

It is 100% clear that he received one of these text messages containing a link.

Khashoggi would have had to click the link, in order for his device to be infected with the malware. When the Citizen Lab report was published on Oct 1 October, Abd’ul-Aziz’s relationship to Khashoggi was seemingly irrelevant, but given the pair’s close relationship, which was described by the Committee to Protect Journalists as resembling “that of a source and a journalist,” the malware seems to be no coincidence. Abdulaziz told CPJ:

We were talking every single day. We had this kind of relationship, not just between colleagues, but between father and son.

MbS, who has been keen to improve relations with Israel, is widely suspected of giving the order to a team of Saudi assassins to abduct, murder and dismember Khashoggi in his country’s consulate in Istanbul. Earlier this month, he hosted a delegation of evangelical Christians and pro-Israel Jews in Riyadh, headed by Joel Rosenberg, a Christian Zionist and a dual citizen of Israel and Pindostan, according to Haaretz. MbS reportedly discussed the Khashoggi killing with the delegation and told his evangelical interlocutors:

My enemies are exploiting this to the fullest.

The Palestinian issue was also discussed at length during the meeting, Rosenberg reportedly told Barak Ravid, the diplomatic correspondent for Israel’s Channel 10.

Rosenberg claimed that MbS asked the delegation not to discuss that part of the conversation publically.

Israeli transport minister Yisrael Katz attended the International Road Transport Union in Oman last week, at the official invitation of the Omani government. Upon his return to Israel, Katz stated that “cooperation between Israel and the Gulf states can and should be expanded,” according to The Times of Israel. Katz proposed a plan, complete with a promotional video, to build a regional transportation and trade rail that links Gulf states to the Mediterranean Sea via Israel.

The “Tracks for Regional Peace” rail link, which Katz said was supported by the Donald Trump administration, was “based on two central ideas: Israel as a land bridge and Jordan as a regional transportation hub.” Katz’s trip came less than two weeks after Netanyahu visited Oman, in the most visible sign of Israel’s normalization of ties with Arab states with which it has no formal diplomatic relations. But it was only the tip of the iceberg. Israeli sports delegations fanned out to Qatar and the UAE in October as well. Qatar also welcomed an Israeli delegation at the end of the month for the Enriching the Middle East’s Economic Future Conference in Doha organized by the Qatari foreign ministry. Among them was Israeli politician and former member of parliament Erel Margalit who told Israeli technology news site CTech that Toad-Israeli relations are warming, if unofficially. He said:

Sometimes it is easier to forge forward through economic collaboration than through the diplomatic echelons. Israel-based cyber-security firms aided Saudi Aramco in dealing with the fallout of a 2012 cyber-attack that left the world’s biggest energy company nearly bereft of all IT resources.

Qatar Youth Opposed to Normalization denounced Israel’s participation:

An Israeli athlete also participated in a show-jumping championship in Qatar recently, hosted by an organization operated by the state-funded multi-billion dollar Qatar Foundation. Israel’s verified Arabic-language Twitter account congratulated Danielle Goldstein for coming in second place at the Doha competition:

The Qatar Foundation hosted prominent pro-Israel propagandist Alan Dershowitz in Doha earlier this year, as part of a wave of all-expenses-paid junkets of right-wing Pindos and key leaders of Israel’s Faschingstein lobby to Qatar, at the invitation of Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. Mother Jones magazine recently revealed that Dershowitz had a contract to provide advice to Joseph Allaham, a lobbyist working for the Qatari government. Allaham transferred $250k to some of the most extreme pro-Israel organizations in Pindostan on behalf of the Qatari government in late 2017 and early 2018. The sums included $100k to the ZOA, $100k to Our Soldiers Speak and $50k for Blue Diamond Horizons Inc. Allaham stated he had a contract with Dershowitz for the latter to provide “advisory and consulting” services “in many matters that involved Middle East, especially Israel,” at the same time he was counseling Pres Trump, according to Mother Jones. Allaham’s statements were revealed in the transcript of a deposition connected to a federal lawsuit filed by pro-Israel Thug fundraiser Elliott Broidy, who claimed Qatar attempted to hack and leak his emails. Allaham refused to say during the deposition whether Dershowitz was paid for his services, although Dershowitz insisted that he “never received a single penny pursuant to that contract” and that it was “never implemented,” according to Mother Jones. Dersh added:

I have done nothing and will do nothing on behalf of any country.

He threatened to sue Mother Jones for defamation if the magazine reported that he had a conflict of interest with Qatar while he was advising the White House. Dershowitz made two trips to Doha, one in January, at the invitation of the emir of Qatar, who financed the trip, and another in March. Allaham helped organize the January trip.

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