נאסר לפרסום בישראל: חברות סייבר ישראליות חתמו חוזים עם קטאר לאבטחת משחקי גביע העולם בכדורגל בעוד שנתיים
Israeli business publication Calcalist reported (English version) that former senior Israeli intelligence officials are cashing in on the Gulf Gold Rush, which has intensified with the normalization deal signed between Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. But unlike other published accounts which document such business pacts with UAE and allied states, the story doesn’t name the state involved in this particular one. But it does explain that Israeli security consultants have “several dozen-million euro” contracts to provide physical and cyber-security for this particular country.
The various Israeli parties to the deal have squabbled and sued each other, which was how Calcalist learned of the big payday they’re enjoying. Three separate companies are involved in the suit. One even accused the other of exporting sensitive Israeli technology which would have offered the client its own capability to mount extensive cyber-attacks; and doing so without the required defense ministry export license. This should ring a bell for those who’ve followed reporting on the cyber-attacks both UAE and Qatar have mounted against each other. The report also indicates that the country involved in this deal has no formal relations with Israel. Only one Gulf country feuding with its neighbors fits the bill: Qatar.
Indeed, Intelligence Online confirms (free registration) not only that the country is Qatar, but that the purpose of the Israel project is to provide protection for the 2022 World Games. Yossi Melman tweeted this earlier today:
אינטליגינס און ליין פרסם על תביעה בשל חוזה סיבר התקפי של מיליוני $ דולר עם מדינה במפרץ, שנועד לעקוף אסור משהבט. שם המדינה פורסם. כלכליסט כתב על הפרשה בלי שם המדינה בגלל צאפ מגוחך של השופטת פלינר . גבורי הפרשה פולי מרדכי אנשי שבכ דרור מור ודני וסלי ואנשי מוסד שי בייטנר ופיני מיידן
— Yossi Melman (@yossi_melman) September 18, 2020
As with any international sporting event, there are multiple layers of security necessary to guarantee the safety not only of the athletes and spectators, but of the infrastructure (buildings, communications, logistics, etc.) as well. In this case, it appears that Qatar was using the World Cup as a cover for expanding its offensive cyber capabilities for use against UAE, Saudi Arabia and its other rivals.
The feuding companies asked Tel Aviv District Court Judge Hanna Plinner to impose a gag order on their lawsuit. She agreed. But after the newspaper filed an appeal, the judge restricted the gag only to the name of the country and the purpose of the contract. Now that all of that information has been exposed, it’s ludicrous to maintain censorship on Israeli media.
Gag orders are supposed to be imposed to protect the privacy and security of individual parties or the State. They are not supposed to be invoked to protect the interests of security consultants reaping tens of millions off the Gulf Gravy Train. In this case, the prohibition against naming Qatar as the Israeli client and the World Cup as the project does nothing but protect that Gravy Train for the consulting elites. So let’s do our part to strike a blow against this Israeli media tyranny.
While we’re at it, let’s give the three cyber-consultant gold diggers they’re 15 minutes of infamy. They are Shabak veterans Dror Mor and Dan Vesely, who founded a company called Sdema. There are also close friends of Omri Sharon, former PM Sharon’s son. The second company, Novard, consists of former IDF COGAT (Occupied Territories liaison) spokesperson Poli Mordechai and Mossad official, Shaun Bouter (aka Shai Beitner). Mordechai’s close contacts with Qatar–which has invested over $1-billion in the Territories–when he worked for COGAT, offered him access needed to land the deal. Their company served as a middleman finding clients for Israeli high tech firms. Novard brought together Qatar and Sdema for the business deal.
As is common with commerce between Gulf states and Israeli companies, the latter needs a third-party “cut-out” in order to hide Israeli fingerprints in the deal. That company was Germany-based Legacy Technologies, two of whose principals are Israeli: Pini Meidan-Shani and Gil Berger. Both are former Mossad agents. Though Legacy is a cyber-security firm as well, Sdema contended that the former’s role in this transaction was solely to act as intermediary and pass along the payments from Qatar to Novard.
Sdema contended that as it proceeded to fulfill the terms of its contract with Qatar it became clear that the scope of work the client expected went beyond security consulting to ensure the integrity of the sporting event, but sought to expand the country’s cyber-attack capabilities. This, the company believed not only went beyond the contract, but drifted into areas that hadn’t been approved in the ministry’s export license. It refused to provide such technical know-how to Qatar. Thus, the business deal fell apart and Sdema sought to recover from its partners monetary damages for the failed deal.
The case eventually went to mediation and Sdema’s two partners offered it monetary compensation. After that, Vaseley, Sdema’s other partner, turned to the court and said that it no longer wished to pursue the case and withdrew all of its claims about the behavior of the Qataris. This, he believed, should eliminate any media interest in reporting the case. Not on your life…
In Sdema’s legal filings maintain that it was “replaced” by its two partners. Which likely means that they found another Israeli company to provide the cyber-attack technology which the company had refused to provide. In other words, Israeli cyber-security firms are now providing such capabilities to UAE and other Gulf States, but also to Qatar, their bitter rival. There’s nothing like an arms dealer getting to stoke a war by arming both sides against each other.
Though Qatar currently maintains close relations with Iran, which caused the UAE, Saudi Arabia to impose a blockade upon it, a U.S. official anticipated that Qatar too would eventually sign a normalization agreement with Israel. That seems wishful thinking, given that Qatar’s commercial and security interests are highly integrated with Iran. For it to turn its back on them, there would have to be an enormous upside to replacing Iran with Israel as a primary business and security partner. That just isn’t in the cards. But it would be in the interest of the Trump administration to seek to drive a wedge between Iran and its allies and further isolate the Islamic Republic. Even if the wedge was based on nothing more than wishful thinking.