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Unpacking The Dissident: The Saudi-Israeli Connection

Updated: Apr 10, 2022

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated at the Saudi consulate by Agents of the Saudi Government in Istanbul, Turkey on 2 October 2018. There are two important connections between Israel and Saudi Arabia which were linked in the newly released documentary, The Dissident. It is now available to watch on Amazon Prime.

The first connection is to the NSO Group and Pegasus:

On the show 11th Hour with Brian Williams, whistleblower and former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden mentions Khashoggi’s murder and how his friends' phones were hacked in order to track him. At the 24:08 mark he states, "How did the government of Saudi Arabia manage to hack these people's phones, well they did not have this capability in their government, so they purchased it from a digital arms broker, a company called the NSO Group, an Israeli company." He continues, "This company - the only thing they do is manufacture digital weapons and they sell this capability for millions and millions of dollars to the worst governments on earth."

The spyware Edward Snowden was referring to is Pegasus. The Saudis also hacked Jeff Bezos' phone using the Israeli spyware. Bezos is the CEO of Amazon and The Washington Post where Khashoggi was working as a Journalist at the time. Following Khashoggi's murder, it was reported the Saudis were attempting to blackmail Bezos with an affair he had in order to control the narrative of the paper. Just as Snowden had said, this form of execution, blackmail and hacking would not be made possible if the digital arms broker NSO Group, an Israeli Company had not sold its capability to the Saudi Government.

The Spy in Your Phone by Al Jazeera provided background information on Pegasus. The Israelis claim this type of spyware is used to track and monitor terrorists. However, it is being used to monitor and silence dissidents, journalists and activists.

The second connection is the Cyber Troll Army:

The newly released documentary, The Dissident mentions how Saudis use a cyber troll Army to flood accounts with comments on social media. It is mentioned about 80% of Saudis have Twitter accounts. The purpose of this trolling is to harass and discourage the people speaking in opposition of their government. It is also used to flood the accounts with pro-government propaganda by pushing hashtags to the top of the trending list, giving the general public the appearance of popular opinion, therefore, controlling the narrative.

This was being used on Khashoggi, and when he found out about this he started to finance an online opposition movement. Just as his group's hashtag started to top the trending list, he was reported missing.

Saudi Arabia is not the only country who does this, so does the State of Israel. There are people in the Israeli Military, unit 8200 who are paid to do this exact thing. Prior Israeli Military service members who were a part of this unit are running the controversial NSO Group.

There is also ACT.IL which is an Israeli Government funded online app anyone can download to their phone and fight what they call anti-Israel bias on social media platforms. It follows the exact same idea of what the Saudis are doing on Twitter, except this includes other social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube.

One has to wonder, What these governments have to hide?

Recently, there has been a debate over censoring the term Zionist on social media platforms, claiming criticism of Zionism is anti-Semitic. Or could it be to silence something much deeper and more sinister about the Israeli Government?

A former Israeli Minister of Education, Naftali Bennett once said, Israel edits Wikipedia in order to keep it Zionist in nature. Does Zionist mean "Jewish" in nature or something else?

Neither of these governments have been held accountable for their human rights violations or executions. Both the Saudi and Israeli Governments hold people in prison without charge. In Israel it is only the Palestinians who are held without charge or who face collective punishment.

So far, it seems the war on terror for our so called, "freedom" has only accelerated the cyber-war meant to stifle freedom of speech. Edward Snowden risked his life to warn the citizens of the United States of America about this type of surveillance. Instead of being treated as a protector of our rights, he was treated as a traitor, having to seek asylum in Russia.

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