Former NSA Mike Flynn advised Israeli cyberweapons dealers

“Want to invisibly spy on 10 iPhone owners without their knowledge? Gather their every keystroke, sound, message and location? That will cost you $650,000, plus a $500,000 setup fee with an Israeli outfit called the NSO Group. You can spy on more people if you would like — just check out the company’s price list.”

NYT September 2, 2016

The founders of NSO Group, Omri Lavie, left, and Shalev Hulio. Credit NSO Group

The Flynn saga goes on as rumors surface that Trump’s former National security Advisor has consulted for both Kaspersky Lab and the NSO Group. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

Today, the Washington Post is revealing additional information regarding the work of Flynn’s consulting company for the Government of Turkey.

Jon Iadonisi, a friend and business associate of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, had two under-the-radar projects underway in the fall of 2016.

One of his companies was helping Flynn with an investigative effort for an ally of the Turkish government — details of which Flynn revealed only after he was forced to step down from his White House post.

But this is not — by a long shot — the biggest news regarding the former National Security Advisor. His collaboration with Kaspersky lab and the NSO Group is mind-boggling.

US media have reported that the DNC/Podesta hacking was investigated by the FBI’s San Francisco office. So far, no explanation has been provided to explain the role/choice of the San Francisco office. Perhaps this could be a clue:

“The San Francisco-based private equity firm Francisco Partners acquired a majority stake in NSO for $120 million in 2014, though its operations remain in Israel.” [Business Insider]

First Russia Today…

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) — the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee — has released three damning new documents on former Trump administration National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

The documents, provided by the Department of Defense, show that the Pentagon warned Flynn in October 2014 that he could not legally take money from foreign governments without getting permission in advance.

The same documents also confirm that Flynn did not ask for permission before taking payments — emoluments — from Russia. Flynn, despite the warning, accepted the payments and failed to disclose them on his application for security clearance in 2016.

“These documents raise grave questions about why General Flynn concealed the payments he received from foreign sources after he was warned explicitly by the Pentagon.”

Next, Inovo (Turkey)

Flynn similarly failed to disclose his lobbying on behalf of the Turkish government.

On March 24 2017, former CIA director James Woolsey came forward  with some troubling details about Flynn’s work for the Turkish government.

Woolsey told The Wall Street Journal that he sat in on a September 19 meeting with Flynn and two ministers of the Turkish government.  The son-in-law of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also attended the meeting in which the subject of the extrajudicial removal of a U.S.-based cleric named Fethullah Gulen was ‘seriously’ discussed.

“What I saw and heard was sort of the end of the conversation — it’s not entirely clear what transpired because of that — but it looks as if there was at least some strong suggestion by one or more of the Americans present at the meeting that we would be able — the United States would be able — through them, to be able to get hold of Gulen, the rival for Turkey’s political situation.”

RELATED POST: The Michael Flynn Saga: “The more you know, the less you understand.” [UPDATE]

RELATED POST: Former CIA Director James Woolsey: “Flynn discussed sending illegally Gulen back to Turkey.”

RELATED POST: Sean Spicer just told a whopper about Foreign Agent Mike Flynn

Sexpionnage?

Long before his nomination as Trump’s National Security Advisor, US and UK Intelligence officials were troubled by Lieutenant-General Michael Flynn’s relationship with a Russian woman.

In February 2014, during a trip to Cambridge, Flynn met Svetlana Lokhova, a Russian-British graduate student. At the time, Flynn was the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

Flynn and Lokhova were introduced to each other at the end of a dinner attended by 20 guests who included Sir Richard Dearlove – the former head of MI6 – and Professor Christopher Andrew, the official MI5 historian.

At a later time, Flynn invited Lokhova to accompany him on his next official visit to Moscow to help with simultaneous translation. Flynn never reported the discussion to US officials, as it would have been expected from him. A few weeks later, Flynn ‘resigned’ as Head of the DIA.

Flynn and  Lokhova kept in contact through emails. On occasion, Flynn would signed “General Misha”. [NOTE: Misha is a Russian nick-name for Mikhail/Michael. But, it also means ‘Teddy Bear’. Actually, “Misha the Bear” was the official mascot of the 1980 Moscow Olympics.]

RELATED POST: Flynngate — The mysterious Svetlana Lokhova

Then, Kaspersky Lab

In October 2015, Mr. Flynn was paid another $11,250 by the firm, Kaspersky Government Security Solutions, which was founded by Eugene Kaspersky. Mr. Kaspersky’s Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab has long been suspected of having ties to Russian intelligence services. He studied cryptography at a high school run by the K.G.B. and Soviet Defense Ministry, and later worked for the Russian military. [NYT]

On December 4 2016, the FSB has arrested Ruslan Stoyanov, the former head of Kaspersky Lab’s Computer Incident Investigation Department. Stoyanov, and three FSB officers, are charged with treason ( Art. 275 of the Criminal Code). The case is classified but is allegedly related to the DNC ‘hacking’ and secret documents passed by these individuals to the US Intelligence Community.

RELATED POST: RUSSIA — FSB Colonel Sergey Mikhailov: “The spy without a past”

And now NSO Group

In May 2006, Flynn joined a branch (Luxembourg) of the NSO Group. This group — founded by former Israeli Intel officers of the 8200 Unit — develop malware and cyberweapons.

The cyberarms industry typified by the NSO Group operates in a legal gray area, and it is often left to the companies to decide how far they are willing to dig into a target’s personal life and what governments they will do business with. Israel has strict export controls for digital weaponry, but the country has never barred the sale of NSO Group technology.

Two years ago, the NSO Group sold a controlling stake in its business to Francisco Partners, a private equity firm based in San Francisco, for $120 million. Nearly a year later, Francisco Partners was exploring a sale of the company for 10 times that amount, according to two people approached by the firm but forbidden to speak about the discussions. [NYT]

About NSO Group

NSO Group Technologies is an Israeli cyberarms dealer founded in 2010 by Niv Carmi, Omri Lavie, and Shalev Hulio. It is reported to employ around 200 people and is based in Herzliya near Tel Aviv. Annual revenues were said to be around $40 million in 2013 and $150 million in 2015. According to the company, it provides “authorized governments with technology that helps them combat terror and crime”. Malware created by NSO Group has been used in targeted attacks against human rights activists and journalists in several countries.

About Pegasus

Among the Pegasus system’s capabilities, NSO Group contracts assert, are the abilities to extract text messages, contact lists, calendar records, emails, instant messages and GPS locations. One capability that the NSO Group calls “room tap” can gather sounds in and around the room, using the phone’s own microphone.

Pegasus can use the camera to take snapshots or screen grabs. It can deny the phone access to certain websites and applications, and it can grab search histories or anything viewed with the phone’s web browser. And all of the data can be sent back to the agency’s server in real time.

TIMELINE

2013 — As DIA chief, Flynn visited the GRU headquarters in Moscow. He was the first US officer ever allowed inside its headquarters.  A second GRU visit was planned but denied. During this trip, he meets Russian diplomat Sergey Ivanovich Kislyak for the first time.

February 2014 — Flynn meets Svetlana Lokhova at Cambridge (CIS)

April 2014 — Flynn ‘quits’ the Defense Intelligence Agency

October 8 2014 — a letter to Flynn from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Office of General Counsel explicitly warns Flynn, as he entered retirement, that he was prohibited by the Constitution from receiving payments from foreign sources without advance permission.

Summer 2015 –Flynn meets Trump for the first time after being invited to do so by his team

May 2016 — Flynn joins NSO Group as an “adviser”

July 15 2016 — Attempted coup in Turkey. Ankara claims Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the US since 1999, masterminded the failed putsch. Extradition requested. Turkey Coup: “CIA Plotters’ Meeting” in Büyükada

August 9 2016 — Flynn Intel Group entered into a contract with Inovo, a consulting firm based in the Netherlands. The work focused on Mr. Fethullah Gulen and charter schools in the United States that are associated with Gulen.

August 15 2016 — The Flynn – Inovo contract goes into effect.

August 15 2016 — Presidential Candidate donald Trump tweets: “I’ve got fresh evidence 13 CIA senior officers helped in Turkey Failed Coup. I will divulge the names in the coming days.” Trump and the Attempted Coup in Turkey : “13 CIA senior officers helped in Failed Coup”

August 24 2016 — U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visited Turkey. Biden made it clear that an extradition request is a legal matter, not one for the POTUS to decide.

September 9 2016 — Inovo BV Payments to Flynn Intel Group $200k

September 19 2016 — Flynn met with senior representatives of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government at the Essex House hotel in New York City. Extradition of Gulen discussed. The Turkish officials are Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak who is the son-in-law of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

October [x] 2016 — Flynn Intel officials presented some of their ‘anti-Gulen’ research to the House Homeland Security Committee.

October 10 2016 — Inovo BV Payments to Flynn Intel Group $185k

November 8 2016 — Suspicions about Flynn’s ties to the Turkish government were sparked by an op-ed he wrote in the Hill. Flynn calls Gulen ‘shady’ and endorses his extradition.

November 10 2016 — Mike Flynn calling for the extradition of Gulen

November 15 2016 — Inovo BV Payments to Flynn Intel Group $145k

November 17 2016 — President-elect Trump intends to pick Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn to be his National Security Advisor

November 18 2016 — Flynn become Trump’s NSA

December 17 2016 — Three experts — including former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove — unexpectedly resigned from their positions at the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar (CIS), amid concerns that the Kremlin is behind a newly-established intelligence journal, which provides funding for CIS.

December 28 2016 — Flynn sends text message to Russia Amb. Kislyak to wish him a Merry Christmas.

December 28 2016 — Russia Amb. Kislyak  replies asking if they can talk on the phone?

December 29 2016 — US expels Russian diplomats over cyber attack allegations. The Obama administration said the GRU is responsible for the DNC hack.

December 29 2016 — Flynn and Russia Amb. Kislyak  phone calls (5?). US sanctions are discussed.

December 30 2016 — Putin announced that he would not retaliate. Trump praised Putin for the decision, writing in a Twitter post, “Great move on delay (by V.Putin). I always knew he was very smart!”

Jan 5 2017 — “Effective immediately, Ambassador Woolsey is no longer a Senior Advisor to President-Elect Trump or the Transition.” Woolsey said on CNN that he did not want to “fly under false colors” any longer.

January 24 (?) 2017 —Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general, again raised the issue with FBI Comey, who now backed away from his opposition to informing the White House. Yates and a senior career national security official spoke to McGahn, the White House counsel. Yates tells the White House counsel that Flynn is vulnerable to blackmail by Russian intelligence.Yates  considered Flynn’s comments in the intercepted call with Russia Amb. Kislyak  to be “highly significant” and “potentially illegal”

February 14 2017 — National Security Adviser Mike Flynn resigns

March 8 2017 — Flynn Intel Group Inc filed retroactive documents with the Department of Justice to register as a foreign agent.

March 24 2017 — WSJ breaks the news of the September 19 meeting (Woolsey). The meeting was however mentioned in the documents filed on March 8 2017.

March 25 2017 — Julliette Kayyem (CNN) suggests Flynn made a deal with the FBI

“WSJ Exclusive: Ex-CIA Head Woolsey on Flynn, Covert Plan”

Asked about Flynn’s spokesperson comment (“At no time did General Flynn discuss any illegal actions, non-judicial physical removal or any other such activities.”), James Woolsey replied [@5’25]: “I think it was discussed, but I would not say it was discussed as a concrete specific proposal. It could well just have been brainstorming…”

REFERENCES

NSO Group — Wikipedia

Donald Trump’s former intelligence chief Mike Flynn advised Israeli spyware company NSO — Online Intelligence

How Spy Tech Firms Let Governments See Everything on a Smartphone — NYT

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Former NSA Mike Flynn advised Israeli cyberweapons dealers

 

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