The US newspaper The Washington Post published an analysis on November 14 that says “US intelligence officials have concluded the United Arab Emirates meddled in the American political system, including by hacking into computers in the United States.”
This comes after Intelligence officials in Washington have put together a classified report showing efforts made by the United Arab Emirates to meddle in US politics despite Abu Dhabi being a close ally of Washington’s.
According to the same newspaper, the activities include legal and illegal bids to influence the US foreign policies in ways that would serve its interests throughout various administrations in the White House.
Meanwhile, only as per DoJ records, Abu Dhabi has spent over $154 million on lobbyists since 2016, the newspaper added.
“Three people who read a classified report and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified information said the activities attributed to the UAE in the report go well beyond mere influence peddling,” writer John Hudson said.
“One of the more brazen exploits involved the hiring of three former U.S. intelligence and military officials to help the UAE surveil dissidents, politicians, journalists, and U.S. companies. In publlic legal filings, U.S. prosecutors said the men helped the UAE break into computers in the United States and other countries,” Hudson added.
“The report amounted to a ‘unique’ intelligence examination of a ‘friendly power,'” according to Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who once served on the National Intelligence Council, which compiled the report and typically writes such reports about adversaries.
However, as per Riedel, “it also serves as a reminder that the UAE has sought to become a force in cyberspace and has made questionable use of cyberweapons, including by siphoning ex-U.S. officials into surveillance work against the United States itself.”
For this purpose, the UAE has repeatedly been connected with the use of spyware known as Pegasus, a product of the NSO Group and Project Raven.
Last September, former US officials Mark Baer, Ryan Adams, and Daniel Gerek admitted to providing advanced computer hacking technology to the UAE, and the UAE agreed with them to pay approximately $1.7 million to resolve criminal charges in a deferred prosecution agreement, which the Ministry of Justice described as the first of its kind.
“Under Project Raven, former U.S. government hackers aided foreign intelligence services in the surveillance of journalists, human rights activists, rival governments, and dissidents. That included the targeting of Americans,” the WP added.
“And the pipeline continues. Just last month, my colleagues Craig Whitlock and Nate Jones reported that over the past seven years, nearly 300 military retirees have sought federal authorization to work for the UAE,” the newspaper wrote, adding, “That includes cybersecurity advisers.”
In another investigation conducted by the Washington Post, more than 500 retired US military personnel, including top army officials, have taken high-paying jobs working for foreign governments since 2015, largely in countries infamous for human rights abuses and political repression.