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Iran gives Mugabe Spy-Technology

by Staff reporter
26 Jan 2015 at 07:49hrs | Views
The Islamic Republic of Iran, has reportedly granted as a gift to Zimbabwean leader, President Robert Mugabe's regime, a dreaded cocktail of cyber and surveillance technology, meant to keep Harare's foreign policy foes at bay, while ratcheting up suppression and snooping on political opposition and other organisations it considers as a national security threat, The Telescope News reported.
According to a reliable diplomatic source working in the capital, the move is also allegedly intended to improve Harare's capabilities in the area of "military strategy for cyber operations", as the army and air force move to modernize.
The revelations also seem to confirm pledges by former Iranian defence minister, Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi, who while meeting his then ministerial counterpart, and now vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa three years ago in Tehran, said his country, will assist Mugabe to strengthen the military, while protecting Zimbabwe's land and culture: "Especially so they are prepared against the pressures and threats from Western countries."
Vahidi left office in August 2013, after President Hassan Rouhani, designated Hossein Dehghan, a former air force officer with the rank of brigadier general, to take charge of the powerful ministry whose foreign policy on Zimbabwe has not changed.
"This country is now going to be a Police state, because the spy technology smuggled into Zimbabwe by Iran around July 2014, is very sophisticated and advanced," said the diplomat. "Bear in mind that Iran, has acquired some of this technology from leading Western companies, and they have become a formidable force in the cyber espionage realm, to a point where some European intelligence organisations suspect, they might be in possession of satellite jamming technology as well."
The diplomat's information, was confirmed by a Zimbabwean defence attaché in Europe, who said the spy technology was nothing unusual as: "The government's of Iran and Zimbabwe have a wide range of agreements around military and security cooperation."
The Telescope News, has also been told that the cyber technology, which includes among other things: Spy-phone software; IMSI catchers; and other programs to monitor personal computers, will soon be tested at the at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe School of Intelligence (RGMSI) built and equipped by the Chinese at Chitamba farm in Mazowe.
Intelligence sources have also indicated that, the department of State for National Security, better known as the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) stationed in the President's office, has allegedly been tasked to "roll-out" special covert operations using the technology largely targeting political parties; non-governmental organisations; media houses and a number of diplomatic missions by the Joint Operations Command (JOC), which brings together the heads of the country's intelligence, army, police, prisons and air-force.
An IMSI catcher or International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI), is a telephony eavesdropping device used for intercepting mobile phone traffic and tracking movement of mobile phone users.
Spy-phone software, on the other hand can allow authorities to steal data from smartphones, which have become fashionable in the country, especially among tech-savvy citizens. Experts say the software has the ability to listen in on "live" phone to phone conversions, and scaringly can turn on a mobile device's microphone and camera of unsuspecting users when they think it is off.
Turning to the issue of the internet and personal computers, this reporter reported in 2013, about Tehran's efforts in helping Zimbabwe to snoop on the information super highway, much to the shock human rights activists.
Through a technique called "deep packet inspection", Iran's sophisticated mechanisms of controlling the internet enables government authorities to not only block communication but to monitor it, to gather information about individuals, as well as alter it for propaganda purposes, which is a dream come true for Mugabe's egregious security law, The Interception of Communications Act passed in 2007 to allow government to wiretap all communications of the populace, without their consent or notification.
Tehran has since 2007 reportedly been involved in a massive cyber training exercise of hundreds of Zimbabwe's intelligence and military operatives.
Officials from the information and foreign affairs ministries have been evasive on the issue since last month, citing national security concerns.
"The Telescope News is alarmist, you have an idea about the story, but few details. I will not fall into the trap of giving you the information you're seeking, because this is a matter of national security," said one of the civil servants.
Mugabe's government stated last year, that it is now in the process of developing new cyber laws to regulate social media, such as Facebook, Skype and Whats App in a bid to cast an omnipresence curtain on an increasingly restive populace, running out of patience due to deteriorating economic conditions.