Chinese hackers used Facebook to target Uighur activists with malware

Facebook

CHINESE HACKERS USED FAKE Facebook accounts to target individual activists in the expatriate Uighur community and infect their personal communications devices with malware, according to Facebook. The social media company said on Wednesday that the coordinated operation targeted approximately 500 Uighur activists living in the United States, Canada, Australia, Syria, Turkey and Kazakhstan.

At least 12 million Uighurs, most of them Muslims, live in China’s Xinjiang region, which is among the most impoverished in the country. The Chinese state is currently engaged in a campaign to quell separatist tendencies among some Uighurs, while forcibly integrating the region’s population into mainstream culture through a state-run program of forcible assimilation. It is believed that at least a million Uighurs are currently living in detention camps run by the Communist Party of China, ostensibly for “re-education”. Meanwhile, thousands of Uighur expatriates, most of whom live in Kazakhstan and Turkey, are engaged in a concerted campaign aimed at airing human-rights violations occurring in the Chinese detention camps throughout Xinjiang.

According to Facebook, Chinese hackers set up around 100 accounts of fake personas claiming to be journalists with an interest in reporting on human rights, or pro-Uighur activists. They then befriended actual Uighur activists on Facebook and directed them to fake websites that were designed to resemble popular Uighur news agencies and pro-activist websites. However, these websites were carriers of malware, which infected the personal communications devices of those who visited them. Some Facebook users were also directed to fake smartphone application stores, from where they downloaded Uighur-themed applications that contained malware.

Facebook said it was able to detect and disrupt the fake account network, which has now been neutralized. It also said it was able to block all fake domains associated with the hacker group, and notified users who were targeted by the hackers. It added that its security experts were not able to discern direct connections between the hackers an the Chinese state.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 25 March 2021 | Permalink

Firm founded by ex-Blackwater boss to operate in China’s Xinjiang province

Erik PrinceA security firm founded by Erik Prince, the former boss of the private military company Blackwater, has announced a deal with the Chinese state to operate a training facility in China’s largely Muslim Xinjiang province. In the months following the United States invasion of Iraq, Blackwater was hired by the Department of State to provide diplomatic security at several locations throughout the Middle Eastern country. By 2010, when the company was abruptly sold to a group of private investors, its tactics in Iraq had prompted international controversy. Prince went on to help found Frontier Services Group (FSG), another private security firm registered in Hong Kong. The company provides security training to personnel working for Chinese companies. Its specialization is training personnel of Chinese firms based abroad, mainly in regions of Africa.

The announcement of the new training center was posted on the FSG’s Chinese-language website. It said that one of FSG’s subsidiaries had struck an agreement to build and operate a “training center” at the Kashgar Caohu industrial park in the city of Kashgar, one of China’s westernmost cities, situated near the country’s border with Tajikistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan. The city of 1 million people is located in the province of Xinjiang. In recent months, Beijing has been heavily criticized by several Western countries for allegedly carrying out mass detentions of Uighur Muslims, which make up about half of Xinjiang’s population. Uighurs are ethnically related to the peoples of Central Asia and speak a Turkic dialect. Some see the Chinese state as an occupier and advocate secession, often combined with calls to create an Islamic caliphate. China denies the allegations of mass detentions and claims that Uighurs are voluntarily enrolled in “educational and training facilities”, where they are de-radicalized through political and cultural instruction. Up to a million Uighurs are believed to have been enrolled in these facilities in the past year.

It is worth noting that the initial announcement of the Kashgar Caohu training center agreement between FSG and its Chinese client was eventually deleted from the company’s website. Late last week, an FSG spokesperson told several news agencies, including Reuters, that Prince was not involved in what was described in a statement as a “preliminary agreement” for a training center in Xinjiang. The spokesperson added that Prince probably had “no involvement whatsoever” in the agreement.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 5 February 2019 | Permalink

News you may have missed #306

  • Sweden jails Chinese man for spying on Uighurs. Sweden has jailed Babur Maihesuti, a.k.a. Babur Mehsut, a dual Chinese-Swedish national who was caught monitoring the political activities of Sweden’s Uighur community on behalf of Beijing. The latter has denied any connection with the alleged spy.
  • Pakistan follows US directive on ISI chief. The director of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, will remain in his post for another year, the Pakistani government has announced. Even though Pasha had a row with CIA director Leon Panetta last November, the US pressured Pakistan to keep him, as the White House has “come to believe that keeping Pasha in place will facilitate efforts to flush out Taliban safe havens from Pakistan”.
  • Dubai tells spies to…leave. Laughable publicity stunt by Dubai Police, who have asked all spies “currently present in the Gulf” to leave the region within a week. “If not, then we will cross that bridge when we come to it”, warned Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan.

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News you may have missed #0225

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Germany arrests Chinese informants for spying on exiles

Chinese consulate in Munich

Chinese consulate

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
German federal and local detectives yesterday raided the homes of four Chinese residents of Munich, who are suspected of spying on the city’s Uighur Chinese community on behalf of the government in Beijing. The four were charged after German counterintelligence agents spotted them holding secret meetings with a Chinese diplomat operating out of China’s consulate in Munich (photo). Munich has the world’s largest Uighur population outside of China, and is home to the World Uighur Congress, which Beijing views as an anti-Chinese organization. The Uighur people are a Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia, and are primarily concentrated in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Read more of this post

Sweden expels Chinese diplomat after uncovering Uighur spy

Babur Mehsut

Babur Mehsut

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
On June 16, intelNews drew attention to a little-noticed news report from Sweden concerning the arrest of an unidentified spy who was caught keeping tabs on an undisclosed immigrant group in the country. The spy turned out to be Babur Mehsut, a Uighur exile with dual Chinese-Swedish nationality, who was apparently monitoring the political activities of Sweden’s Uighur community on behalf of Beijing. Sweden’s security service (SAPO) and the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs have declined commenting on the case. However, Swedish authorities have charged Mehsut with “unlawful acquisition and distribution of information relating to individuals for the benefit of a foreign power”, and earlier this week ordered the expulsion of a Chinese diplomat stationed in Stockholm. China responded a day later with the expulsion of a Swedish diplomat from Beijing. Read more of this post

Foreign spy services active in Pakistani army’s war with the Taliban

Fazlullah

Fazlullah

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Pakistani military and security officials alleged earlier this week that foreign intelligence services are helping pro-Taliban warlords fight the Pakistani army in Swat and in other tribal areas in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province. According to news reports from Islamabad, the officials have presented the Pakistani government with an extensive report alleging covert assistance to pro-Taliban forces from Indian and Israeli agents. The classified report alleges that Israel supplies tribal warlords “with modern technology”, including radio equipment, while Indian agents, operating out of Indian consulates in the region, are providing the Taliban with weapons and probably training. Pakistani military officials claim they have proof of visits by Indian operatives to Taliban training camps and of meetings between Indian operatives and leading pro-Taliban military leaders and propagandists, such as Maulana Fazlullah and Baitullah Mehsud. Read more of this post