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By Ami Dor-On

Some top Israeli high-tech companies were founded by 8200 unit veterans. Once a spy, always a spy?
Some top Israeli high-tech companies were founded by 8200 unit veterans. Old habits die hard?

The FBI’s Assistant Director in charge of the counterintelligence Division testified to a U.S. Congress committee that “Israel is looking for business and military secrets. One of the best tools they can use are business partnerships between Israeli and American firms, which supply software to the entire U.S. market and the various government agencies. In this way the firms can get access to the information they’re looking for.” In its annual business espionage report to the Congress, the FBI tagged Israel as “a hostile intelligence threat”, second only to the threat posed by the Chinese intelligence services.

Jonathan Pollard, the man found guilty of transferring top secret intelligence to Israeli agents, is a very well known figure. Many have tried – and failed – to get him released, and despite the long years since his arrest no one knows why the American government insists on keeping him behind bars. The media reports on the matter certainly give an inadequate explanation. Lately, though, after the discovery of the government’s spying efforts on American citizens, including the massive scope of these efforts, some of the truth behind the Pollard affair has been exposed by

James Bamford
James Bamford

James Bamford, the analyst who published these fascinating facts in his recent book “The Shadow Factory”. The subject matter deals with the NSA’s global and internal activities, and includes details on the Pollard affair and the Israeli espionage campaign in the United States. Bamford, considered a prominent intelligence expert and is the journalist that exposed – in his articles in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal – the NSA’s extreme electronic espionage efforts, and the organization’s inordinate capabilities when it comes to obtaining information having to do with American citizens and their private lives.

In his chapter on the Israeli espionage campaign in the U.S. Bamford writes that while the NSA collects data on American citizens using technologies developed by Verizon and other companies, Israel has access to this information as well. In other words: When the NSA violates the basic rights of American citizens and gains access to all American internet traffic, claiming that the information is used in the war against global terrorism, Israeli intelligence agencies can access that same information in real time.

Bamford isn’t the only one who raises the issue of Israel spying on the U.S., Counter Punch published an article on March 12th, 2009, by Christopher Ketcham, detailing the Israeli methods of operation. “Israel conducts an aggressive and damaging espionage campaign in the U.S. this sensitive issue is never mentioned in the media or discussed by the government, mainly because of the special, sensitive relations between Israel and the U.S. and the influence of the Israeli lobby, which punishes any American lawmaker that dares to criticize Israel.” According to Ketcham proof can be found in the annual “Business Espionage” FBI report to the congress. Israel is reported as a hostile intelligence threat second only to China – and by a small margin. In the 2005 report, for example, the FBI claims that “Israel conducts an information gathering campaign in the U.S.” one main method of operation, according to the report, is infiltrating governmental computer networks. A 1996 report by the Counterintelligence Services, a branch of the Pentagon, contained a warning that “Israel considers scientific data gathering in the U.S. to be its third priority, right after information gathered in the neighboring Arab states and information on American policy decisions regarding Israel.” According to a CIA report the infiltrations are perpetrated using advanced methods.

One of the best examples of Israeli espionage in the U.S. concerns the Pollard affair. According to a CIA report, Pollard gave Israel more than just information on hostile states – he gave them about 800,000 code words, access to top secret CIA documents, the Information Protection Agency and other American government organizations. Former FBI Deputy Director for counterintelligence, Harry B. Brandon, reported in a congressional hearing that “Israel is looking for business information as well as military secrets. One of the best methods is business partnerships between Israeli and American firms, who supply software to the entire American market and to the various government agencies.”

iHLS – Israel Homeland Security

Bamford sheds some unique light on the Israeli high-tech espionage methods, and he’s not just regurgitating old theories. He names several Israeli companies that are involved in the acquisition of data, using many sophisticated methods. The Israeli telecom industry, which was led by Israeli entrepreneurs – some of them Unit 8200 veterans – supplies the U.S. with various systems: Voice transfer, including from mobile devices; voice identification, text messages, charging telephone calls, interception of signal, voice traffic, and more.

General Keith Alexander
General Keith Alexander

Israeli companies form business partnerships with American high-tech companies selling services to most of the American telecommunications industry. For example: Verizon and AT&T control about 90% of American communications. This is based on the regulations of CALEA – Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act. CALEA was established in order to allow law enforcement and intelligence agencies to monitor telephone calls and broadband internet traffic in real time. Another example: According to NSA chief General Keith Alexander’s testimony, given at a congressional hearing on June 6th, 2013, two companies with ties to Israel were secretly eavesdropping on American internal telecommunications. Alexander did say that his organization doesn’t monitor the activities of foreign entities in the U.S., but, as mentioned in Before It’s News, he wasn’t lying. “The NSA doesn’t do this itself, it employs secret subcontractors”. In this was the NSA basically monitors most of the internal American communications without breaking the law.

Jacob Alexander
Jacob Alexander

One of those mentioned in this context is Verint, owned by Comverse Technology, which monitors AT&T traffic using a Narus software – Narus itself being a Boeing subsidiary. Both Verint and Narus were founded by Israeli entrepreneurs in 1990. The two companies specialize in monitoring and intercepting network traffic. One of the founders of Verint is Jacob “Kobi” Alexander, a former top Israeli intelligence official, the founder and first director of Comverse. In 2007 an 8200 unit commander told Forbes that Comverse’s activities are based on technologies developed by Unit 8200. Ori Cohen, one of the founders of Narus, also admitted in a Fortune interview that his partners used to develop technologies for the Israeli intelligence. Another example: One 8200 unit commander said, according to Haaretz, that many high-tech companies around the world employ 8200 unit veterans. Another 8200 unit commander, known only as “Brigadier General B”, said that “the establishment of successful high-tech companies by many 8200 unit veterans isn’t just blind luck. Most technologies used by successful high-tech companies around the world were developed in Israel first, and were, in fact originally used by the military and then further developed by Unit 8200 veterans.” Many of these technologies have to do with remote interception of encrypted data being transferred through optic fibers.

Bamford finishes on a sad note: In the distant past Israel and the U.S. were in agreement – “friends do not spy on friends.” Israel, however, did not honor that agreement, and CIA chiefs today treat Israel with distrust – despite Obama’s declarations on the importance of maintaining the special Israel-American relations.