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NYT > Middle EastNYT > Middle EastOld Espionage Ruse, With a Modern Twist: Israelis Say Hamas Used Online SeductionAs Protests Flare, Iran Bids Farewell to RafsanjaniArms Seized Off Coast of Yemen Appear to Have Been Made in Iran

http://ftr.fivefilters.org/makefulltextfeed.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2Fservices%2Fxml%2Frss%2Fnyt%2FMiddleEast.xml&max=5 http://ftr.fivefilters.org/makefulltextfeed.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2Fservices%2Fxml%2Frss%2Fnyt%2FMiddleEast.xml&max=5 https://static01.nyt.com/images/misc/NYT_logo_rss_250x40.png http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/11/world/middleeast/israel-hamas-espionage.html?partner=rss&emc=rss http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/11/world/middleeast/israel-hamas-espionage.html <p class=”p-block”>TEL AVIV — It usually started with a bit of cyberflirting. A direct message was sent through Facebook or another social network from an unknown woman to an Israeli soldier’s smartphone. Then, according to Israeli military officials, it developed into a chat in flawless Hebrew, heavily peppered with millennial slang.</p> <p class=”p-block”>“Good morning (smiley emoji),” one typical chat began.</p> <p class=”p-block”>“What’s up? Do we know each other?” the soldier replied.</p> <p class=”p-block”>Alluring photos soon followed. Only the correspondents were apparently not who they said they were.</p> <p class=”p-block”>Instead, senior Israeli intelligence officials said on Wednesday, they were <a href=”http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/h/hamas/index.html?inline=nyt-org” title=”More articles about Hamas.” class=”meta-org”>Hamas</a> operatives who set up fake profiles and trawled social networks, befriending naïve soldiers and enticing them to download applications that effectively turned their cellphones into tracking devices and tools for spying.</p> <p class=”p-block”>The assertions of the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity under Army rules, could not be independently verified. Hazem Kassem,a spokesman for Hamas, the Islamic militant group that holds sway in the Gaza Strip, declined to comment. “We do not want to respond to what some Israelis say about us,” he said.</p> <p class=”p-block”>Ibrahim Madhoun, a writer for Al-Resalah, a Hamas newspaper, said that Hamas would not stoop to such levels. “Creating women’s profiles to attract soldiers is against our Islamic values and teachings,” he said by telephone.</p> <p class=”p-block”>Briefing reporters on Wednesday at military headquarters in Tel Aviv, the intelligence officials said the technology was relatively simple.</p> <p class=”p-block”>One correspondent, “Albina Goren,” sent a photo of herself in a skimpy dress, blue sea in the background. “Amit Cohen” sent one of herself wearing red lipstick and shades, her brown mane flowing. Some of the fake friends gained the confidence of several administrators of closed social network groups used by soldiers and were invited to join.</p> <p class=”p-block”>They then sent links to an apps store with instructions to download what they said were video chat apps, like YeeCall and Wowo Messenger. When the soldiers tried to install and use the apps, they would not open, and the new “friends” would cut off contact. But the supposed app was actually a virus that gave Hamas access to the soldiers’ contacts, locations, apps, photos and files, the military said, and allowed Hamas operatives to stream video from the cellphone’s camera and audio from the microphone.</p> <p class=”p-block”>Dozens of phones were targeted in the past few months, most of them belonging to low-ranking combat soldiers carrying out their obligatory service, the military officials said. Though the Hamas operation had the potential to cause serious damage to state security, the officials said, the military intelligence directorate’s information security branch, in cooperation with other Israeli security agencies, caught on and acted to shut the operation while the damage was minimal.</p> <p class=”p-block”>Suspicions arose when a female Israeli soldier reported that her profile photo and identity had been stolen and were being used to befriend other soldiers. Some male soldiers became suspicious when their new “friends” asked about their military activities.</p> <p class=”p-block”>After working secretly for several months to find the cyberspies, the military said it had decided to publicize the operation to raise public awareness and encourage soldiers to report suspicious behavior on social networks. The military is asking soldiers to turn off the GPS on their phones when not in use, to make themselves harder to track. It is also recommending that soldiers avoid downloading apps from unfamiliar sources.</p> <p class=”p-block”>“This time, their weapon isn’t a bomb, gun or vehicle,” the military officials said of the Hamas cyberoperatives. “It’s a simple friend request.”</p> <p><strong><a href=”https://blockads.fivefilters.org”></a></strong> <a href=”https://blockads.fivefilters.org/acceptable.html”>(Why?)</a></p> Wed, 11 Jan 2017 22:17:30 +0000 ISABEL KERSHNER http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/11/world/middleeast/israel-hamas-espionage.html?nytmobile=0 en text/html https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/01/11/world/middleeast/israel-hamas-espionage.html Espionage and Intelligence Services Mobile Applications Social Media Cellular Telephones Hamas Israel http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/10/world/middleeast/iran-rafsanjani-funeral-protests.html?partner=rss&emc=rss http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/10/world/middleeast/iran-rafsanjani-funeral-protests.html <p class=”p-block”>TEHRAN — Iranians bade farewell to <a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/08/world/middleeast/ayatollah-rafsanjani-dead.html”>Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani</a> on Tuesday, with the sprawling state funeral veering slightly off script when groups of mourners started shouting opposition slogans.</p> <p class=”p-block”>The authorities were forced to raise the volume on the loudspeakers playing lamentation songs after some in the crowds took up cries of “Oh, Hussein, Mir Hussein,” a reference to a former presidential candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi, who has been under house arrest since 2011.</p> <p class=”p-block”>Some of the chants were aimed at Russia, Iran’s ally in the Syrian conflict. Video clips on social media showed mourners shouting “Death to Russia” and “the Russian Embassy is the den of espionage,” as they passed the embassy’s complex in the heart of Tehran. People also called for the release of <a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/09/world/middleeast/the-hunger-strike-the-protest-tactic-of-gandhi-is-vexing-irans-penal-overseers.html?ref=world”>hunger strikers</a> in Iranian prisons.</p> <p class=”p-block”>State television, broadcasting the funeral live, airbrushed the protests, which were nevertheless allowed to proceed without police intervention.</p> <p class=”p-block”>Mr. Rafsanjani, 82, who <a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/08/world/middleeast/iran-ali-akbar-hashemi-rafsanjani-dies.html”>died on Sunday</a>, was laid to rest after an elaborate ceremony that lasted several days. Right after his demise, his body was placed in a coffin that was put on public display in the modest house of the late founder of the Islamic republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.</p> <p class=”p-block”>For two days, mourners had filed through the northern Tehran site, untouched since Mr. Khomeini died in 1989. A religious chanter brought the crowds to tears as he recalled how Mr. Rafsanjani helped to oust Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi in the 1979 revolution. “Our sheikh was so wise, he made the shah leave, leave,” the chanter sang.</p> <p class=”p-block”>Men gathering on the ground floor bowed their heads in respect, while on the first floor — the women’s section — mourners in black chadors peeked down. Qassem Soleimani, the general of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards who runs Iran’s operations in Iraq and Syria, paid his respects, some people said, showing clips of him on their cellphones as proof.</p> <p class=”p-block”>Because of Mr. Rafsanjani’s close relationship with Ayatollah Khomeini, he was accorded the honor of being buried in the late leader’s <a href=”https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=khomeini+mausoleum+sciolino&amp;amp;biw=1718&amp;amp;bih=912&amp;amp;tbm=isch&amp;amp;tbo=u&amp;amp;source=univ&amp;amp;sa=X&amp;amp;ved=0ahUKEwiMqsuqw7fRAhWrLMAKHfWlBHgQsAQIGQ”>mausoleum</a>, in a golden cage. Before the interment, all Iranians were invited to gather around the campus of the University of Tehran, in the central part of the city, where Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, led a prayer.</p> <p class=”p-block”>People showed up early, some wearing scarves around their faces to protect them from the morning cold. Families passed by, pushing strollers carrying babies wearing woolen hats. Students took videos with their cellphones. Shiite clerics in traditional winter robes made of camel’s hair held prayer beads.</p> <p class=”p-block”>There were so many people — 2.5 million by official estimates — that many of the dignitaries and family members invited to the campus were marooned in their cars amid the crowds. Some hid behind curtains; others waved at the collection of camera phones.</p> <p class=”p-block”>One of Mr. Rafsanjani’s daughters, Faezeh Hashemi, was photographed sticking her head out of the window of a bus and flashing a victory sign. She and her brother Mehdi have been harassed by hard-liners for their growing support of reformists and moderates seeking change in Iran. The daughter, an activist for women’s rights and personal freedoms, was jailed in 2011 for making “anti-regime propaganda,” while her brother was given leave to attend the funeral from prison, where he was sent on embezzlement charges.</p> <p class=”p-block”>In recent years their father, long a staunch conservative, became an unexpected hero to Iran’s middle class. Mr. Rafsanjani sympathized with some demands made by protesters during the so-called <a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/14/world/middleeast/14iran.html”>Green Revolution</a>, the antigovernment demonstrations following the disputed re-election victory of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009. They saw him as a lone voice representing their beliefs in Iran’s establishment.</p> <p class=”p-block”>Such deviations from the official line were put aside by the authorities on Tuesday. In death it seemed that Mr. Rafsanjani was to be remembered for his revolutionary credentials, not for his criticisms. Potential troublemakers were not invited. The former reformist president, Mohammad Khatami, who was supported by Mr. Rafsanjani, was told not to attend, local websites said.</p> <p class=”p-block”>The same apparatus that normally churns out posters showing Uncle Sam with blood dripping from his teeth to burn during state-backed anti-American demonstrations, now printed pictures of Mr. Rafsanjani, extolling him as “a man of history, who is immortal.”</p> <p class=”p-block”>In the teeming streets, scenes clashed incongruously. At one point, Ayatollah Khamenei could be heard through loudspeakers saying prayers for Mr. Rafsanjani while protesters chanted opposition slogans. Some wore green wristbands, the color of the opposition, and flashed victory signs.</p> <p class=”p-block”>Supporters of the establishment tried to drown out the slogans by shouting “Allahu akbar,” meaning “God is great,” but for the most part they were overmatched. On state television, sound engineers at one point forgot to lower the volume when people shouted, “Hail to Khatami.”</p> <p class=”p-block”>“Hashemi’s death is a great worry to us,” said Leili Farhang, a 26-year-old university graduate, who emphasized that she was unemployed “like many of my generation.” She and her friends had showed up in front of the Tehran University campus “to pay respect to a man who respected us.”</p> <p class=”p-block”>It was hard, she and her friends agreed, to come up with the name of anybody within Iran’s establishment to replace Mr. Rafsanjani. Not one has his weight and stature, they concluded: “He will be missed.”</p> <p class=”p-block”>It took hours for the body to arrive at the South Tehran mausoleum, because of “the millions that have come out to honor the ayatollah,” Khabarfori, an Iranian online news channel, said on the Telegram messaging app.</p> <p class=”p-block”>Inside the mausoleum, state television showed, a marching band played the national anthem, after which Mr. Rafsanjani’s coffin was placed next to Mr. Khomeini’s, as planned.</p> <p><strong><a href=”https://blockads.fivefilters.org”></a></strong> <a href=”https://blockads.fivefilters.org/acceptable.html”>(Why?)</a></p> Tue, 10 Jan 2017 13:43:40 +0000 THOMAS ERDBRINK http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/10/world/middleeast/iran-rafsanjani-funeral-protests.html?nytmobile=0 en text/html https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/01/10/world/middleeast/iran-rafsanjani-funeral-protests.html Rafsanjani, Ali Akbar Hashemi Funerals and Memorials Tehran (Iran) Demonstrations, Protests and Riots vis-photo http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/10/world/middleeast/yemen-iran-weapons-houthis.html?partner=rss&emc=rss http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/10/world/middleeast/yemen-iran-weapons-houthis.html <p class=”p-block”>Photographs recently released by the Australian government show that light anti-armor weapons seized from a smuggling vessel near <a href=”https://www.nytimes.com/topic/destination/yemen?8qa”>Yemen</a>’s coast appear to have been manufactured in <a href=”https://www.nytimes.com/topic/destination/iran?8qa”>Iran</a>, further suggesting that Tehran has had a hand in a high-seas gunrunning operation to the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.</p> <p class=”p-block”>The weapons, a selection of at least nine rocket-propelled grenade launchers, were among thousands of weapons seized by an Australian warship, the Darwin, in February from an Iranian dhow that was sailing under the name Samer. The photographs of the weapons, a sample of the much larger quantity of arms, were obtained by the <a href=”http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/”>Small Arms Survey</a>, a Geneva-based international research center, after a long open-records dispute with the Australian military.</p> <p class=”p-block”><a href=”http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/iran/index.html?inline=nyt-geo” title=”More news and information about Iran.” class=”meta-loc”>Iran</a> has been repeatedly accused of providing arms helping to fuel one side of the war in <a href=”http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/yemen/index.html?inline=nyt-geo” title=”More news and information about Yemen.” class=”meta-loc”>Yemen</a>, in which rebels from the country’s north, known as the Houthis, ousted the government from the capital, Sana, in 2014. The United States and other Western governments have provided vast quantities of weapons, and other forms of military support, to the embattled government and its allies in a <a href=”https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/10/world/middleeast/yemen-saudi-arabia-military.html?action=click&amp;amp;contentCollection=Middle%20East&amp;amp;module=RelatedCoverage&amp;amp;region=Marginalia&amp;amp;pgtype=article”>coalition led by</a> <a href=”https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/10/world/middleeast/yemen-saudi-arabia-military.html?action=click&amp;amp;contentCollection=Middle%20East&amp;amp;module=RelatedCoverage&amp;amp;region=Marginalia&amp;amp;pgtype=article”>Saudi A</a><a href=”https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/10/world/middleeast/yemen-saudi-arabia-military.html?action=click&amp;amp;contentCollection=Middle%20East&amp;amp;module=RelatedCoverage&amp;amp;region=Marginalia&amp;amp;pgtype=article”>rabia</a>, contributing to violence that the United Nations said last year had caused more than 10,000 civilian casualties.</p> <p class=”p-block”>Matthew Schroeder, an analyst for the survey, said a study of the weapons’ characteristics and factory markings had showed that they match Iranian-made rocket-propelled grenade launchers previously documented in Iraq in 2008 and 2015, and in Ivory Coast in 2014 and 2015.</p> <p class=”p-block”>That finding follows <a href=”https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2016/11/30/how-iranian-weapons-are-ending-up-in-yemen/?utm_term=.f5126d97f1e7″>a report late last year</a> by Conflict Armament Research, a private arms consultancy, that said the available evidence pointed to an apparent “weapon pipeline, extending from Iran to Somalia and Yemen, which involves the transfer, by dhow, of significant quantities of Iranian-manufactured weapons and weapons that plausibly derive from Iranian stockpiles.”</p> <p class=”p-block”>For years, Iran has been under a series of international sanctions prohibiting it from exporting arms. The United States has frequently claimed that Tehran has violated the sanctions in support of proxy forces in many conflicts, including in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and the <a href=”http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/p/palestinians/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier” title=”More articles about Palestinians.” class=”meta-classifier”>Palestinian</a> territories.</p> <p class=”p-block”>The grenade launchers that were the subject of Mr. Schroeder’s analysis are the central component of a reusable weapon system commonly called RPG-7s.</p> <p class=”p-block”>They were among 81 launchers seized on the Samer by Australian sailors, part of a hidden cargo that included 1,968 Kalashnikov assault rifles, 49 PK machine guns, 41 spare machine-gun barrels and 20 60-millimeter mortar tubes — enough weapons to arm a potent ground force.</p> <p class=”p-block”>Although the evidence was not conclusive, Mr. Schroeder said, “the seizure appears to be yet another example of Iranian weapons being shipped abroad despite longstanding U.N. restrictions on arms transfers from Iran.”</p> <p class=”p-block”>With Iran observing three days of mourning following the death of <a href=”https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/10/world/middleeast/iran-rafsanjani-funeral-protests.html?ref=world”>Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani,</a> it was not possible to contact the government for comment. But on previous occasions, Iran has refused to respond to inquiries about the smuggling.</p> <p class=”p-block”>The Samer episode was one of four interdictions of Iranian dhows from September 2015 through March 2016 that yielded, in total, more than 80 antitank guided missiles and 5,000 Kalashnikov rifles as well as sniper rifles, machine guns and almost 300 RPG launchers, according to data provided by the United States Navy.</p> <p class=”p-block”>In 2013, the Navy <a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/03/world/middleeast/seized-arms-off-yemen-raise-alarm-over-iran.html”>stopped another dhow</a> off the Yemeni coast and found it to be carrying shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles and launchers, rifle and machine-gun cartridges, C4 plastic explosives, night-vision equipment and other military items.</p> <p class=”p-block”>In an interview in Bahrain, Vice Adm. Kevin M. Donegan, the commander of the Navy’s Fifth Fleet, suggested that these seizures were part of a larger effort by Iran to move weapons to <a href=”https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/26/world/middleeast/houthi-rebels-yemen.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FYemen&amp;amp;action=click&amp;amp;contentCollection=world&amp;amp;region=stream&amp;amp;module=stream_unit&amp;amp;version=latest&amp;amp;contentPlacement=10&amp;amp;pgtype=collection”>the Houthis</a>.</p> <div class=”related-asset article-image p-block” readability=”7.5″> <div class=”image-container”> <img src=”https://cdn1.nyt.com/images/2017/01/11/world/11Yemen2/11Yemen2-articleInline.jpg” class=”lightbox-candidate” data-lightbox-image-url=”https://cdn1.nyt.com/images/2017/01/11/world/11Yemen2/11Yemen2-superJumbo.jpg”/></div> <div class=”text-container” readability=”35″> <p class=”image-caption”>A grenade launcher that was part of the weapons cache.</p> <p class=”image-credit”>Australian Department of Defense, via Small Arms Survey</p> </div> </div> <p class=”p-block”>“Absolutely it’s not everything,” he said of the four seizures in 2015 and 2016. “These are the ones that I know of because we were able to interdict them.”</p> <p class=”p-block”>Admiral Donegan noted, however, that the captains operating the vessels are typically “out-of-work fishermen, smugglers; they’re not necessarily working for the government” of Iran. He added that the evidence of Iran’s hand in the shipments, while strong, was not ironclad.</p> <p class=”p-block”>This echoed the report by Conflict Armament Research, which said that antitank weapons apparently seized in Yemen have matched lot numbers for the same class of weapons seized on Iranian dhows but stopped short of claiming to have clear proof of an Iranian government hand.</p> <p class=”p-block”>The consultancy also documented weapons manufactured by China, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria and perhaps in North Korea in seizures from the dhows.</p> <p class=”p-block”>The consultancy also did not suggest that the evidence indicated a direct handoff of weapons from the dhows to Houthi forces. Rather, it said, the weapons appear to be offloaded in Somalia and transferred to smaller vessels for smuggling into southern Yemen.</p> <p class=”p-block”>Weapons from Iranian dhows would not be alone in reaching the conflict, which has been fueled in part by extensive arms transfers by outside governments.</p> <p class=”p-block”>Western governments, including those of the United States, Britain and Canada, have provided billions of dollars worth of weapons and military equipment, as well as intelligence and logistics support, to the Saudi-led coalition, which has been waging an extensive bombing campaign against the Houthis.</p> <p class=”p-block”>Among <a href=”https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/14/world/middleeast/yemen-saudi-bombing-houthis-hunger.html?_r=0″>the American-provided weapons</a> have been GBU-series guided bombs and <a href=”http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/c/cluster_munitions/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier” title=”More articles about cluster munitions.” class=”meta-classifier”>cluster munitions</a>, both of which have been linked by human rights groups and journalists to attacks on Yemeni factories and civilian deaths.</p> <p><strong><a href=”https://blockads.fivefilters.org”></a></strong> <a href=”https://blockads.fivefilters.org/acceptable.html”>(Why?)</a></p> Wed, 11 Jan 2017 01:23:24 +0000 C. J. CHIVERS and ERIC SCHMITT http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/10/world/middleeast/yemen-iran-weapons-houthis.html?nytmobile=0 en text/html https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/01/10/world/middleeast/yemen-iran-weapons-houthis.html Arms Trade Firearms Iran Yemen

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