Thursday, January 22, 2015

NSA and Israel targeted Lebanese leaders by Wayne Madsen

NSA and Israel targeted Lebanese leaders
by Wayne Madsen
For years the Israeli SIGINT National Unit (ISNU), also known as Unit 8200, which is a Third Party partner of the U.S. National Security Agency, has maintained a massive communications surveillance operation against Lebanon. Of particular interest to ISNU is the highly-advanced fiber optics network installed by Lebanese Hezbollah for its own operations. WMR has learned that in some cases, the Lebanese government has used the Hezbollah network because is affords more security against Israeli eavesdropping than official Lebanese government networks.

The latest release of classified NSA documents provided by Edward Snowden reveal that NSA's Information Technology Directorate (ITD) has maintained a surveillance operation against Lebanese communications since at least 2007. Although the latest released information does not specifically state that Israel receives intercepted signals intelligence gathered by ITD and NSA Georgia from Lebanon, a previously-released NSA-ISNU memorandum of understanding (MOU) states that ISNU is provided "raw SIGINT data (i..e., signals intelligence information that has not been reviewed for foreign intelligence purposes or minimized)."

In January 2007, NSA Georgia at Fort Gordon, Georgia maintained surveillance of Lebanon's leadership, including the "Ministry of Interior, Parliament Members, and Presidential Palace." Also targeted were the former commander of the Common Border Force. Lebanon is the only country in the world with an agency called the "Common Border Force." The presidents of Lebanon at the time of the surveillance were Emile Lahoud and acting president Fouad Siniora, who was previously prime minister. The Interior Ministers was Hassan Sabeh. The prime minister until 2005 was Najib Mikati.

 Fouad Sinora.jpg Hassan Sabeh
Targeted by NSA acting in concert with Israel: President Emile Lahoud [left], Prime Minister and President Fouad Siniora [center], and Interior Minister Hassan Sabeh [right].
According to the United Nations, the Lebanese Common Border Force was "established by the Lebanese Council of Ministers on 28 July 2007, within the context of a pilot project led by Germany along Lebanon's northern border with the Syrian Arab Republic. Responsible for the surveillance and control of Lebanon's northern border with the Syrian Arab Republic to ensure that the passage of all goods is restricted to legal crossing points only, preventing the smuggling of weapons, ammunition and prohibited material through the establishment of permanent and mobile observation points. The Common Border Force brings together elements from the four principal security agencies responsible for border management and security, namely the Lebanese Armed Forces, the Internal Security Forces, General Security and Customs."

Other Lebanese military officers monitored by NSA Georgia were a colonel in the Information Technology (IT) Directorate, a general in the Medical Command, a general whose affiliation was unknown, an instructor colonel in the Army Staff and Command College, and a Lieutenant Colonel in the Defense Ministry.

Incredibly, NSA Georgia gave high priority to downloading from the Lebanese Defense Ministry a document on the Lebanese Armed Forces review of personnel issues regarding retirement, communications, and health care.

The most recent release of documents from NSA also includes one describing how GSM cellular equipment bound for the "Syrian Telecommunications Establishment (STE)" GSM network were implanted with a "beacon implanted through supply-chain interdiction." The beacon, once in place, "called back" to the "NSA covert infrastructure." The call back enabled NSA to "further exploit the device and survey the network." This black bag work was carried out under the auspices of NSA's "Tailored Access Operations" or TAO.

TAO oversees an operation where shipments of computer network devices (servers, routers, etc.) are intercepted. Next, they are redirected to a secret location where TAO/Access Operations (NSA AO-S426), with the support of Remote Operations Center (S321), enable the installation of beacon implants directly into NSA's targets' electronic devices. Hard-target networks around the world provide pre-positioned access points for NSA eavesdropping.

On June 20, 2008, WMR reported: "A cable-based telecommunications system installed by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley, and Beirut was so elaborate, the Israelis could neither destroy it nor eavesdrop on it during Israel's 2006 war against Lebanon, according to an Egyptian intelligence source. It is being reported that the sophisticated Hezbollah system is now being extended to northern Lebanon. In addition to the Israelis, the US National Security Agency (NSA) is having trouble conducting surveillance on the Hezbollah system.

Is NSA doing Israel's dirty work in the Middle East?
. . . It is also believed that the January 2008 car bombing of Lebanese Internal Security Force Information Branch officer, Captain Wissam Eid, a noted communications engineer, may have been linked in some way to the Hezbollah communications network. Although the bombing was blamed on Hezbollah, Syria, Hezbollah's ally, was among the first to condemn Eid's assassination."

NSA, according to the Snowden release, managed to intercept communications on the Hezbollah cable communications system by bugging it with implanted Cisco routers and other devices.