2021 Panorama: Global Scandal of Israel's Pegasus Program Reveals spying on 9 Bahraini Dissidents

2022-01-21 - 3:10 p

Bahrain Mirror (2021 Panorama): The Citizen Lab issued on Tuesday (August 24, 2021) a report on the Bahraini government spying on the activists' phone through iPhone spyware by the Israeli NSO group for technology.

The lab identified nine Bahraini activists whose iPhones were successfully hacked with NSO Groups Pegasus spyware between June 2020 and February 2021. Some of the activists were hacked using two zero-click iMessage exploits: the 2020 KISMET exploit and a 2021 exploit that the lab called FORCEDENTRY.

The hacked activists included three members of Waad (a secular Bahraini political society), three members of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, two exiled Bahraini dissidents, and one member of Al Wefaq (a Shiite Bahraini political society). The two exiled activists are Moosa Abdl Ali and Yusuf Al-Jamri, they both reside in London and agreed to disclose their names.

Moosa Abd-Ali's iPhone 8 appears to have been hacked with Pegasus at some point prior to September 2020. Yusuf Al-Jamri's iPhone 7 appears to have been hacked with Pegasus at some point prior to September 2019. The team that prepared the report said that it was unable to determine whether he was hacked while in Bahrain or London. Meanwhile, the other targeted activists preferred not to mention their names.

At least four of the activists were hacked by LULU, a Pegasus operator that we attribute with high confidence to the government of Bahrain, a well-known abuser of spyware.

One of the activists was hacked in 2020 several hours after they revealed during an interview that their phone was hacked with Pegasus in 2019.

The report noted that two of the hacked activists now reside in London, and at least one was in London when they were hacked. The committee indicated in the research it conducted that the Bahraini government is spying on activists in Bahrain and Qatar, but never in Europe. The Bahraini activist in London may have been hacked by a Pegasus operator associated with a different government.

The committee said that it shared a list of the targeted phone numbers it identified with Forbidden Stories website. It confirmed that numbers associated with five of the hacked devices were contained on the Pegasus Project's list of potential targets of NSO Group's customers, which is said to include data from between 2017 and 2019.

The report was prepared by Bill Marczak, Ali Abdulemam, Noura Al-Jizawi, Siena Anstis, Kristin Berdan, John Scott-Railton, and Ron Deibert.

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