Israel planted surveillance devices targeting Trump, claims report

White HouseThe intelligence services of Israel planted surveillance devices around the White House in an attempt to spy on United States President Donald Trump and his senior advisors, according to a report published on Thursday. The report, authored by Politico’s Daniel Lippman, cited three former US officials with knowledge on the matter, “several of whom served in top intelligence and national security posts”, it said.

According to Politico, the Israelis planted International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) catchers —known in technical-surveillance lingo as “StingRays” after a leading hardware brand. StingRay devices are designed to simulate the activity of legitimate cell towers in order to trick cell phones into communicating with them. That allows StingRay users to monitor the physical whereabouts of targeted cell phones. Some of the more expensive Stingray models can intercept the actual content of telephone conversations and can even plant Trojans on the compromised phones of unsuspecting users.

Politico said that the StingRays found around the White House were of the highest technical sophistication, and were “likely intended” to spy on President Trump, his senior advisers and other close associates. Politico said it had no information on whether the attempt was successful. The spy devices were detected by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2017 and acknowledged by US government officials in 2018. Senior American intelligence officials allegedly told Politico that an exhaustive two-year investigation into the matter showed “with confidence [that] the Israelis were responsible” for the StingRays.

The investigation was led by the counterintelligence division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the help of the DHS and the Secret Service. The National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency are also known to assist such counterintelligence investigations. The devices were disassembled and their technical specifications were carefully inspected to assess their history and origins. Investigators reportedly concluded that very few countries have the technical and financial capabilities to build and plant such devices in the US, and that Israel was the most likely culprit.

Politico also said that some intelligence officials are unhappy about the Trump administration’s lack of response to the alleged spying by Israel. According to the officials, the White House did not file a protest —either publicly or privately— with the Israeli government, and “there were no consequences for Israel’s behavior”.  On Thursday afternoon, the US president voiced skepticism when asked by reporters about the Politico report: “I really would find that hard to believe”, said Trump, adding that his “relationship with Israel has been great”. Meanwhile the office of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the Politico report as “a blatant lie” and noted that Israel’s spy services had “a directive from the Israeli government not to engage in any intelligence operations in the US”.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 13 September 2019 | Permalink

4 Responses to Israel planted surveillance devices targeting Trump, claims report

  1. Joe Hagler says:

    Old news revamped by corrupt journalist to hit Trump and make Israel look bad right at their election… We’ve known about these Stringrays since 2013ish. Washington Post wrote about it Sept. 2014. Good luck on finding WP story, funny how that happens. However, here something that will bring some light to the subject: http://blackbag.gawker.com/those-interceptor-fake-cell-phone-towers-are-in-washi-1637721419

  2. Robbie says:

    Anyone who has ever worked in the IC knows that Israel is one of the most persistent threats we face. Accusing journalists of being corrupt because you are a Trump/pro-Israel fanatic does not change reality.

  3. Bill Banks says:

    Times change, people don’t. If the White House can not be secured 20 years later, what about the other “interesting” targets?

    https://www.bing.com/search?q=clinton%20lewinsky%20wiretap%20Netanyahu&qs=n&form=QBRE&sp=-1&pq=clinton%20lewinsky%20wiretap%20netanyahu&sc=0-34&sk=&cvid=91C7AA08D38C4A13AA1E13F692C0D9DD

  4. Joe Hagler says:

    Re: Robbie,

    Someone who works in Network Security can confirm Israel’s abilities. That still doesn’t make this story anymore true. The hardware reported isn’t even use in today’s spy world, Mossad is much better than being reported. I personally am far from Trump fanatic… https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/was-israel-spying-or-was-the-stingray-story-an-anti-bibi-sting

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