Israeli Media: Pegasus Spyware Acquired by Two UAE Princes
Two different leaders of the UAE have acquired two separate systems of NSO's Pegasus spyware.
Israeli news website The Marker has learned that the occupation's cybersecurity firm, NSO, has sold its infamous Pegasus spyware to two UAE leaders: the ruler of Abu Dhabi Mohammad bin Zayed, and the ruler of Dubai Mohammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum.
The question is why would one country that already has a sizeable security infrastructure need not one, but two copies of the same Israeli spyware? According to The Marker, one possibility may be the internal politics and rivalries between the UAE's emirates, as "the heads of the two most prominent principalities wished to have their own system. As far as is currently known, the heads of the other five have not sought to acquire a system of their own."
The other is that Mohammad bin Rashed al-Maktoum wants to use the spyware for personal reasons, amid his lengthy court battles with his ex-wife Princess Haya bint Hussein of Jordan (King Abdullah II of Jordan, half-sister).
A UK court ruling last month has found that al-Maktoum, UAE's vice president, used the spyware to hack into the phone of his ex-wife, five members of her entourage, and two of the princess' lawyers, all while the couple was battling for custody of their two children in court.
The princess's phone was hacked 11 times under al-Maktoum's direction or knowledge. It is reported that the two rulers of Dubai and Abu Dhabi paid 7 and 8 figure sums for the system.
The US Commerce Department blacklisted Israeli firms NSO Group and Candiru last week for providing their spyware to foreign governments that used the tools to "maliciously target" journalists, embassy workers, activists, diplomats, and heads of state.