Bangladesh bought major spying equipment from Israeli company | Cyber ​​news

Bangladesh has purchased Israel-made surveillance equipment that can be used to track the mobile phones of hundreds of people simultaneously, an Al Jazeera study has found.

Documents and statements obtained by the Al Jazeera Investigation Unit show that the Bangladesh Army purchased Israeli equipment in 2018 using a Bangkok-based intermediary and Bangladeshi military intelligence officers were trained in Hungary by Israeli intelligence experts.

The contract acquired by Al Jazeera lists the condition that both parties to the sale sign a non-disclosure agreement. It also lists the country of origin of the equipment as Hungary, although secret records by Al Jazeera show the middleman clearly stating that the equipment was from Israel.

“The contractor said that people in Bangladesh should not know that this product comes from Israel,” said Al Jazeera’s undercover source, Sami, whose name has been changed for its security.

Bangladesh has no diplomatic relations with Israel and trade with it is prohibited. It has the fourth largest Muslim population in the world and does not allow its citizens to travel there, citing military ownership of Palestinian territory. Officially, it has been said that it will not recognize Israel until the independent state of Palestine.

The contract falsely obtained by Al Jazeera shows the country of origin of Hungary [Al Jazeera]

Ahmad clan

The publication is part of the Al Jazeera study All the Prime Minister’s men, which reflects the close relationship between Bangladeshi ‘s powerful criminal family, owned by the country’ s army chief, and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The investigation reveals that a key figure in the acquisition of weapons equipment is Haris Ahmed, a convicted criminal and brother of Bangladesh army chief Aziz Ahmed. Haris, who has now returned to Bangladesh, was reinstated in Hungary in 2015 using a fake passport when he was under interpol red alert and wanted in Bangladesh for a murder committed in 1996.

Do you know about government corruption or want to share another tip? Contact the Al Jazeera Survey Unit on +974 5080 0207 (WhatsApp / Signal), or find other ways to reach out on our Suggestions page.

Haris is one of five brothers in the Ahmed family, four of whom are linked to criminal activity involving murder. Aziz is the fifth brother, commander of the army, who has close ties to Sheikh Hasina.

The investigation reveals how the Ahmed family owns Ahmed machines at the state, including traveling to sentences, obtaining false documents and resisting political opponents.

Al Jazeera was able to find Haris down and discovered that he has run several businesses across Europe with the help of his older brother, who has become aware of Haris’ whereabouts and even met him several times despite the fact that Bangladesh law enforcement is a warrant for his arrest.

Haris Ahmed, above, calls Bangladesh police, shown by General Aziz Ahmed, at the bottom, at Dhaka’s wedding for General Aziz’s son in 2019 [Al Jazeera]

‘Very aggressive and harassing’

The spyware contract involved paperwork that attempted to discover the true nature of the contract and involved frontline companies. It was, of course, a contract between Bangladesh’s military intelligence group, Director General of Intelligence Forces (DGFI), and PicSix, an Israeli-based company run by former Israeli intelligence agents. Bangkok-based Irish national James Moloney worked as a midfielder.

The contract for the acquisition of the Intercept P6 was signed one day after Hariz’s brother Aziz Ahmed became commander of the Bangladeshi army.

The mobile surveillance systems purchased by Bangladesh, known as IMSI-catchers, are often used by authorities to monitor attendees at complaints and demonstrations.

“It’s from Israel, so we don’t advertise that technology,” said Moloney, CEO of a Singapore-based company called Sovereign Systems.

Earlier, Moloney had said that Sovereign Systems was an opponent for the PicSix business in Asia, as many countries would not do business openly with the Israeli company.

“We put the cellular or WiFi capture on the website. We are very careful about our public image, ”continued Moloney.

“Technology is very aggressive and tedious. You do not want the public to know that you are using that equipment. “

According to Sami, Israeli intelligence experts illegally issued calls in Hungary to demonstrate the effectiveness of the equipment to DGFI officials.

James Moloney, central, PicSix trains, left, and two anonymous intelligence officers left Bangladeshi [Al Jazeera]

‘Knowledge is power’

Eliot Bendinelli from Privacy International called P6 Intercept a large monitoring tool, capable of detecting 200 to 300 mobile phones simultaneously.

“It carries you like a cell tower, so all the phones in a particular area are going to connect to it and be able to capture communications,” Bendinelli told Al Jazeera.

“Everything you do on your phone, text messages, phone calls and websites you are going to include,” he said. “This particular model also able to block communication, so it is possible to change the content of a text message. “

“Knowledge is power, so if you know where people meet and what they plan to do, you have the power to be involved.”

Haris boasted to an Al Jazeera store that he did just that, using information obtained through an electronic survey to outperform one of his competitors.

The Investigation Unit spoke to all involved, including the DGFI, Haris and Aziz Ahmed, as well as PicSix, inviting them to respond to its findings. They didn’t.

James Moloney told Al Jazeera that Sovereign Systems was not the company that made a deal with the Bangladeshi Army, but did not say anything about his role as a mediator in the illegal spyware deal.

On Monday, after the film was released, Bangladesh’s foreign minister denied in an interview with the BBC that the country had never purchased mobile phone transit equipment from Israel .