Hebrew language news service Yediot Aharonot revealed on Friday morning that British and US intelligence services hacked Israeli drones (UAV) and fighter jets sent to monitor military operations in Gaza. This startling revelation came from documents leaked by famed whistle-blower, Edward Snowden. The British and American services were monitoring for potential pre-emptive Israeli strikes against Iran and also to stay current on Israeli technology.
The joint program, code-named “Anarchist”, was run by British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and the US National Security Agency (NSA).It monitored transmissions for 18 years from a Royal Air Force installation in the Troodos Mountains, near Mount Olympus, the highest point on Cyprus. The leaked files showed snapshot images, including photos of the drones which indicate, though not conclusively, that some of the drones are carrying missiles, something which the Israeli government refuses to either confirm or deny.
It also shows that the US and British intelligence services cracked Israel’s operational codes, allowing them access to all of the information broadcast from the large fleet of UAV’s Israel operates.
A senior Israeli official speaking to Yediot Aharonot called it an “earthquake”.
“Apparently none of our encoded communications processes are secure from them,” he said. “This is the most serious leak in the history of Israeli intelligence.”
The files included screenshots taken from the drones during the operations, including operations inside of Israel, as well as files prepared for internal lectures and training, including reports apparently addressed to senior commanders. This is especially disturbing since it is an egregious case of spying on Israel by its closest allies.
Operation Anarchist also targeted transmissions from operations originating from Hezbollah, Egypt, Turkey, Iran and Syria.
Edward Snowden is a computer professional who worked for the CIA and was a former contractor for the US Government who copied classified information from the NSA and GCHQ and disclosed it to the public 2013 against the governments’ wishes. The information revealed numerous global surveillance programs. The US Department of Justice placed charges of espionage and theft against him. Snowden responded by seeking asylum in Russia, where he lives today in an undisclosed location.