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US, Israel developed Flame computer virus: report

June 20, 2012

“The United States and Israel jointly developed the Flame computer virus that collected intelligence to help slow Iran’s nuclear program, The Washington Post has reported, citing anonymous Western officials.

The so-called Flame malware aimed to map Iran‘s computer networks and monitor computers of Iranian officials, the newspaper said. It was designed to provide intelligence to help in a cyber campaign against Iran’s nuclear program, involving the National Security Agency, the CIA and Israel’s military, the Post said.

The cyber campaign against Iran’s nuclear program has included the use of another computer virus called Stuxnet that caused malfunctions in Iran’s nuclear enrichment equipment, the newspaper said.

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Current and former US and Western national security officials confirmed that the United States played a role in creating the Flame virus.

Since Flame was an intelligence “collection” virus rather than a cyberwarfare program to sabotage computer systems, it required less-stringent US legal and policy review than any US involvement in offensive cyberwarfare efforts, experts said.

The CIA, NSA, Pentagon, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment.

Flame is the most complex computer spying program ever discovered.

Two leading computer security firms – Kaspersky Lab and Symantec Corp – have linked some of the software code in the Flame virus to the Stuxnet computer virus, which was widely believed to have been used by the United States and Israel to attack Iran’s nuclear program.

Reuters

Source: Sydney Morning Herald.

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Military activities reported near Israel-Gaza border

A Palestinian doctor attends to a wounded man at a hospital in Gaza City on Thursday.
A Palestinian doctor attends to a wounded man at a hospital in Gaza City on Thursday.
May 17, 2012 From Kareem Khadder and Talal Abu Rahma, CNN

“STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Israeli forces crossed into Gaza, Israeli and Palestinian officials said Thursday
  • Palestinian officials report injuries and tank fire east of Gaza City
  • Israeli officials confirm tank fire

(CNN) — Israeli tank fire wounded seven Palestinians in a farm field east of Gaza City on Thursday, Palestinian medical and security officials said.

A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces initially denied tank fire was used in an operation against suspected terrorists approaching the border fence near the Karni crossing. However, the IDF later confirmed that an initial investigation “suggests” that tank shells were fired.

Separately, Israeli forces carried out small operations in or near Gaza on Thursday morning, with officials on both sides giving conflicting accounts of events.

According to Palestinian officials, Israeli forces crossed into the town of Beit Lahiya, detaining at least a dozen Palestinians and injuring one. An Israel Defense Forces spokesman confirmed military activity at the location but described it as “routine,” adding that no injuries were reported and that there was no confirmation of arrests.

Palestinian medical and security officials described a third event, saying that the Israeli military crossed 500 meters (about 545 yards) into Palestinian territory south of Gaza City but that the activity passed without incident.

The IDF spokesman did not confirm the event.”

Source : CNN News

Iran Attack Decision Nears, Israeli Elite Locks Down

170512N.Benjamin-Netanyahu.jpg - 170512N.Benjamin-Netanyahu.jpg

 Israel‘s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reviews the guard of honour during a welcoming ceremony at Czech government headquarters in Prague

REUTERS

A private door opens from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office in central Jerusalem directly into a long, modestly furnished, half-panelled room decorated with modern paintings by Israeli artists and a copy of Israel’s 1948 declaration of independence. It contains little more than a long wooden table, brown leather chairs and a single old-fashioned white projector screen.

This inner sanctum at the end of a corridor between Netanyahu’s private room and the office of his top military adviser, is where one of the decade’s most momentous military decisions could soon be taken: to launch an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear programme, reports Reuters.

Time for that decision is fast running out and the mood in Jerusalem is hardening.

Iran continues to enrich uranium in defiance of international pressure, saying it needs the fuel for its civilian nuclear programme. The West is convinced that Tehran’s real objective is to build an atomic bomb – something which the Jewish state will never accept because its leaders consider a nuclear armed-Iran a threat to its very existence.

Adding to the international pressure, U.S. ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro said this week American military plans to strike Iran were “ready” and the option was “fully available”.

The central role Iran plays in Netanyahu’s deliberations is reflected in the huge map of the Middle East hanging by the door of his office. Israel lies on one edge, with Iran taking pride of place in the centre.

Experts say that within a few months, much of Iran’s nuclear programme will have been moved deep underground beneath the Fordow mountain, making a successful military strike much more difficult.

As the deadline for a decision draws nearer, the public pronouncements of Israel’s top officials and military have changed. After hawkish warnings about a possible strike earlier this year, their language of late has been more guarded and clues to their intentions more difficult to discern.

“The top of the government has gone into lockdown,” one official said. “Nobody is saying anything publicly. That in itself tells you a lot about where things stand.”

Last week Netanyahu pulled off a spectacular political surprise, creating a coalition of national unity and delaying elections which everyone believed were inevitable. The manoeuvre also led to speculation that the Israeli leader wanted a broad, strong government to lead a military campaign.

The inclusion of the Iranian-born former Israeli chief of staff and veteran soldier, Gen. Shaul Mofaz, in the coalition, fuelled that speculation – even though both Mofaz and Netanyahu deny that Iran was mentioned in the coalition negotiations.

“I think they have made a decision to attack,” said one senior Israeli figure with close ties to the leadership. “It is going to happen. The window of opportunity is before the U.S. presidential election in November. This way they will bounce the Americans into supporting them.”

Those close to Netanyahu are more cautious, saying no assumptions should be made about an attack on Iran – an attack with such potentially devastating consequences across the volatile Middle East that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas even went so far as to predict in an interview with Reuters last week that it would be “the end of the world”.

Source: Thisday Newspaper

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