Have you ever wondered how the US and Israel have such a detailed knowledge of the progress, the direction and the objectives of the Iranian nuclear project?
Have you ever wondered why former Mossad (Israel’s CIA) boss, Meir Dagan, and former Shabak (Israel’s FBI) head do not foresee the inevitability for an Israeli military attack on Iran with the aim of stopping the Ayatollah’s nuke development?
Have you ever wondered how the Israeli air force was able to penetrate Turkey’s and Syria’s air spaces, devoid of stealthy aircraft, then bomb Assad’s secret nuclear plant without being detected by the most sophisticated Russian radar systems deployed in Syria?
Isn’t it amazing that Israel can pinpoint and employ surgical strikes on stationary and moving enemy targets in Gaza and in the West Bank, anytime, anywhere?
We heard about the computer virus, Stuxnet; it had inflicted great damage to Ahmadinejad’s centrifuges, slowing down his uranium enrichment program. We now know that President Obama has ordered, or in the least, was an active partner to this cyber-attack on Iran. And with the revelation of the Flame virus and the insinuation, or virtual testimony by leading computer security firms such as Kaspersky and Symantec, that Israel, and possibly the US as well, were behind it, a new awareness has been inspired--war and espionage have leaped forward into the bloodless cyber space.
Eugene Kaspersky, chief executive of Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab, which uncovered Flame last month, said that his researchers have since found that part of the Flame program code is nearly identical to code found in a 2009 version of Stuxnet. “There were two different teams working in collaboration,” he revealed.
Several computer experts, including Kaspersky, alleged that both Stuxnet and Flame must have been engineered by a state rather than an individual or a small group of hackers. The cyber weapon (Stuxnet) and the super spyware worm (Flame) are simply too big, too sophisticated and too complex to be a product of anyone other than a state, they insisted. And given the fact that these programs targeted Iran’s nuclear project, Iran’s infrastructure and government officials as well as other Muslim states in the Middle East with little or no side-infections, is nothing less than circumstantial substantiation that Israel and the US have been cooperating in the making of these cyber weapons.
Consequently, the answer to my rhetorical questions above is—the US and Israel know and control some of the details of Iran’s nuke program, thanks to Stuxnet, Flame and their still undetected cousins. The detailed intelligence and the ability to control and remotely manipulate key installations inside Iran and other Middle Eastern countries has removed a great deal of anxiety about Iran’s ability to surprise and bully the rest of the world; it has possibly prevented a premature military action against the mullahs’ corrupted regime. Also, it explains why former Israeli intelligent chiefs have expressed a passionate aversion to an Israeli military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities; they must have believed that Israel could accomplish its goals through a well-executed cyber-war. Additionally, it explains Israel’s military chief of staff’s confidence in the success of a military campaign against Iran shall it be called for.
Nevertheless, Kaspersky does not want to join forces in the effort to stop Iran’s nuke program. On the contrary, he publicizes details of the Flame worm; he is working on detection and vaccination aimed at disabling it, preventing it from spreading. Directly or even indirectly, he lends a hand to Iran, helps the Ayatollah overcome and prevent further infections of his electronic infrastructure. Kaspersky is on the Iranian side of this cyber war.
Kaspersky’s intentions are marketed as an effort designed to prevent a dangerous metastasis into unintended targets worldwide. Except, the Flame worm and the Stuxnet virus have been specifically designed as a weapon of targeted killing, as a laser stiletto intended to minimize collateral damage. It does not spread like a standard virus; it works like the latest "smart bomb" used to treat breast cancer by using a drug to deliver a toxic payload to tumor cells while leaving healthy ones alone.
Kaspersky’s efforts must have contributed to an intelligence setback in the US and in Israel, as the handlers of the Flame virus instructed it to self-destruct, leave no traces and vanish into a cyber-black hole. And since proper intelligence is key to either avoiding unnecessary wars like the Iraq war, or quickly and successfully disabling a terrorist enemy’s ability to carry out aggressive acts, then the only conclusion derived from Kaspersky’s actions are that his firm has elevated the risk of a military campaign against Iran; it has also increased the risk that a military campaign will be more costly. It did not contribute to a more peaceful world.
The important lesson that we all must learn from Kaspersky’s efforts to publicize his analysis of the Flame worm is that his company and other security firms should join forces and cooperate with those governments trying to prevent Armageddon, rather than defending those who try to bring it about.