Detained in Dubai clients targeted by UAE hired Israeli intel firms
TEL AVIV (Monitoring desk): A report last week accusing a private Israeli intelligence firm of impersonating journalists in order to elicit information from opponents of an Emirati royal family shines a spotlight on Israeli cyber intelligence firms that reportedly do business in authoritarian regimes.
A Times of Israel investigation has revealed that the owner of the firm in question, Bluehawk CI, has a history of prior fraud prosecutions in Israel. The Defense Ministry chose not to respond to a Times of Israel’s inquiry as to why it had not regulated the firm’s activities abroad.
According to the April 6 report in The Daily Beast, in early 2020 individuals pretending to be a Fox News researcher and a reporter for Italy’s La Stampa newspaper approached two individuals who have fallen afoul of the leadership of Ras Al Khaimah, one of seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE). According to the Daily Beast, the journalist impersonators tried to trick the two men into divulging information about their legal disputes with the emirate.
The report underlines how Israel has in recent years spawned an industry of seemingly unregulated spy-for-hire firms, with former Israeli military officers privatizing skills they acquired in secretive intelligence units and often selling their know-how to sketchy individuals or authoritarian regimes.
The Daily Beast reportedly established the identity of the private intelligence firm by contacting Facebook, which revealed that accounts used by the two supposed journalists were associated with the Israeli firm Bluehawk CI.
Bluehawk CI did not respond to The Times of Israel’s request for comment.
A spokesperson for Israel’s Ministry of Defense said that Bluehawk CI does not appear on its list of approved vendors, but did not answer a follow-up question as to whether the ministry is supposed to be regulating the company in the first place.
According to Israel’s Defense Export Control Law, anyone exporting defense equipment or know-how abroad must register with and receive permission from Israel’s Defense Export Control Agency.
Bluehawk CI is one of the less well-known Israeli private intelligence firms. Founded in June 2018, it offers cyber technologies and intelligence solutions, including “social engineering & PR campaign management” and “complex intelligence investigations,” according to its website.
The company was founded and is owned by Guy Klisman, a form