U.S.Ex-NSA chief signed contract to trained Saudi hackers before Khashoggi murder
Former US National Security Agency (NSA) chief Keith Alexander’s company IronNet, Cybersecurity Company, signed a deal with the Prince Mohammed bin Salman College of Cyber Security, Artificial Intelligence, and Advanced Technologies in July 2018.
The agreement aimed to train the hackers of Saudi Arabia’s regime to counter the Kingdom’s enemies in the digital sphere. The Gulf kingdom has become a lucrative destination for retired US senior intelligence officials, as in past also such kind of incidents happened ex-NSA analysts helped plan a UAE hacking operation against Qatar in Project Raven.
Al-Qahtani also oversaw the torture of human rights defender and women’s rights activist of Saudi Arabia Loujain Al- hathloul in May 2018.
However, the agreement between IronNet with the alleged mastermind behind the Khashoggi assassination is not mentioned on the IronNet website and it was unclear if the business relationship between them still exists.
Cybersecurity researchers have identified powerful hacking technology that was implanted in Khashoggi’s family’s phones by agents from the United Arab Emirates, a close ally of Saudi Arabia. They received malicious text messages that infected their phones with Pegasus, a tool developed by Israeli-based NSO Group to remotely access a target’s microphone, text messages, and location.
After Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination many US firms have faced pressure to end business deals with Saudi Arabia but still certain cyber firms like BAE system 2019, entered into a training agreement with MBS College of Cyber Security.
When BAE asked for comment, distanced itself from the deal. “BAE Systems is working with several partner companies based in Saudi Arabia,” said a company spokesman. “ISE, one of our Saudi partner companies, was awarded a contract by MBS College for Cyber Security in 2019 to provide college establishment support services such as B. general staffing and facilities management, but this contract has not been activated and is still ongoing.”
Concerns have been raised for US officials for serving their services to the gulf kingdom in secrecy. A Middle East nation provides lucrative deals to other cyber-enriched nations in exchange for hefty money in return.