More than 400 Whatsapp messages exchanged by journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Montreal-based Omar Abdulaziz revealed a collaboration to build an online “youth movement” to function as a watchdog of the Saudi state.
This information was allegedly obtained by an Israeli firm named NSO group which developed the software used to hack Abdulaziz’s phone which contained the conversations held with the journalist.
“The hacking of my phone played a major role in what happened to Jamal, I am really sorry to say,” commented the Saudi activist, who began criticizing the regime when he was a college student, before he fled to Canada who granted him asylum.
The correspondence between the two, which dates from October 2017 to August 2018, shows how Khashoggi and Adbdulaziz conceived the creation of an online contingent on Twitter called “Cyberbees” which would deconstruct Saudi propaganda and document human rights abuses, according to Abdulaziz.
“Twitter is the only tool they’re using to fight and to spread their rumors. We’ve been attacked, we’ve been insulted, we’d been threatened so many times, and we decided to do something,” stated Abdulaziz, regarding the use of the Twitter by the Saudi regime, which he believes is the states’ strongest weapon to spread rumors.
The plan had been picking-up steam prior to the journalists’ assassination.
It involved sending foreign SIM cards to dissidents in Saudi Arabia so they could use twitter without being tracked; and second, raising an initial US$30,000 to help fund the groups activities and garner support from rich donors to support the scheme.
Abdulaziz, deeply distressed by the revelation which he believes may have led to death of the journalist at the hands of the Saudi state, is filling a lawsuit against the Israeli NSO.
“The lawsuit puts new pressure on the company, the NSO Group, and on the government of Israel, who licenses the company’s sales to foreign governments of its spyware, known as Pegasus.
More broadly, the suit also calls new attention to Israel’s increasingly open alliance with Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf monarchies,” according to David D. Kirkpatrick, for the New York Times.
Israel holds an increasingly more open collaboration with Saudi Arabia, both allies of the United States, set to undermine Iran’s position in the region, despite differences among both regimes.