OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Despite the countries’ lack of diplomatic ties, Israel is accused of selling Bangladesh cutting-edge cyber tools to intercept mobile and internet traffic.
The spying technology was allegedly sold to Bangladesh’s armed forces, internal security agency, and interior ministry via Cyprus.
Bangladesh, the world’s third-largest Muslim country, does not recognise Israel. There are no diplomatic ties between the two countries, and all passports issued by Bangladesh until 2021 stated, “This passport is valid for all countries except Israel.”
Despite the fact that Bangladesh is not on Israel’s list of countries to which such technology may be sold, and despite the country’s consistently poor human rights record, reports surfaced last year that advanced surveillance equipment developed by a company controlled by the former commander of Israeli intelligence’s technology unit was sold to the government of Bangladesh.
The equipment used to intercept mobile and internet traffic was purchased by the National Telecommunication Monitoring Center, or NTMC, a division of the Bangladeshi Interior Ministry in charge of tracking internet and social media use domestically, as well as online censorship and eavesdropping on citizens.
Passitora, a Cyprus-registered company, is owned by Tal Dilian, an Israeli entrepreneur and former intelligence officer.
The company, formerly known as WiSpear, was embroiled in a scandal that began with a brazen interview Dilian gave to Forbes in which he revealed the existence of the company’s SpearHead system, which consists of a van outfitted with surveillance equipment and tracking software that collects data from mobile phones via cellular and Wi-Fi networks, including encrypted WhatsApp messages, Facebook chats, contact lists, calls, and text messages within a half-mile radius.
According to a WiSpear presentation, the system can be used to instal spyware on nearby computers and mobile devices.