UAE cyber-hacking program spied on Michelle Obama’s emails, book claims

Michelle ObamaMICHELLE OBAMA HAD SOME of her personal emails intercepted by a group of American cyber-spies who were working for the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to a new book. The book, This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends, is written by Nicole Perlroth, who covers cybersecurity-related topics for The New York Times. It tackles what the author describes as the global “cyber-weapons arms race” and its impact on international security.

Among the topics discussed in the book is Project RAVEN, a highly intrusive cyber-espionage effort by the government of the UAE. The project was allegedly aimed at neutralizing domestic and international targets, which the UAE monarchy saw as threats to its survival. According to the Reuters news agency, which revealed the existence of Project RAVEN in 2019, its targets included foreign governments, officials of international bodies, as well as suspected terrorists and human rights activists.

As the dispute between the UAE and Qatar deepened, Project RAVEN increasingly targeted the island oil kingdom. In one notable instance, UAE cyber-spies hacked into the email accounts of officials at the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) in an unsuccessful effort to sabotage Qatar’s bid to host the 2022 football World Cup. According to Reuters, the cyber-spies sought to unearth damaging and potentially embarrassing private information about Qatari officials, and leak them in order to damage Qatar’s candidacy for the high-profile sporting competition. According to the news agency, several American former employees of the National Security Agency were involved in Project RAVEN.

Now Perlroth’s book claims that Project RAVEN’s cyber-spies acquired a series of emails exchanged between Moza bint Nasser, wife of Qatar’s then-ruling Emir, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, and Michelle Obama, when she held the position of America’s First Lady. The emails, which were intercepted in 2015, contained the US first lady’s personal thoughts, information on her security detail, and the travel details of her planned visit to Doha later that year. According to Perlroth, the inclusion of Obama’s emails into Project RAVEN’s targets caused at least one American involved in the effort, a former NSA analyst, to quit and leave the UAE. The Emirati monarchy has not commented on allegations about Project RAVEN.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 08 February 2021 | Permalink

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