World Cup host Qatar used ex-CIA officer to spy on top football officials

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Qatar hired former CIA officer-turned-private contractor Kevin Chalker to spy on other bidding teams and key football officials who chose the winner in 2010.

The former CIA officer has spied on high-profile football officials for years, working for Qatar, a tiny Arab country that will host a conference next year. World Championship Tournament, investigation Associated Press Found.

Qatar sought to gain an edge in hosting rights from competitors such as the United States and Australia by hiring former CIA-turned-private contractor Kevin Chalker to spy on other bidding teams and key football officials who chose the winner in 2010. AP investigation found.

Mr. Chalker also worked in Qatar in the following years to follow up on Qatar’s critics in the football world, according to interviews with former associates of Chalker, as well as contracts, invoices, emails and review of business documents.

It’s part of a trend in which former US intelligence officers go to work for foreign governments with a dubious human rights record, which worries officials in Washington.

“There is so much money going through Washington from the Gulf states,” said Congressman Tom Malinowski, a Democrat from New Jersey. “There are many temptations, and they invariably confuse Americans about things that we should not confuse.”

The FIFA World Cup is the most popular sports tournament on the planet. It’s also a chance for Qatar, one of the richest countries in the world, to have a party on the world stage.

V AP investigation shows that Qatar has left little to chance. Surveillance work involved using someone in the role of a photojournalist to follow up on a rival country’s bid, and deploying a Facebook decoy in which someone impersonated an attractive woman online to get closer to a target, as a review of the entries shows. According to reports, operatives working for Mr. Chalker and the Gulf Sheikh also searched the telephone logs of at least one senior FIFA official ahead of the 2010 vote.

“The biggest achievement of the MERCILESS project to date … has been the successful infiltration of a company targeting critics within the FIFA organization,” said Mr Chalker’s company, Global Risk Advisors, in a 2014 document describing the project, minimum proposed budget which was specified. $ 387 million over nine years. It is unclear how much the Qataris ended up paying the company.

The company’s documents also highlight the company’s efforts to conquer the power of Jordan’s Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, a key figure in the football world who unsuccessfully ran for the presidency of FIFA in 2015 and 2016. In a 2013 document, Global Risk Advisors recommended that Qataris give money to a football development organization run by Prince Ali, saying that this “will help strengthen Qatar’s reputation as a benevolent spokesman for world football.”

A spokesman for Prince Ali said the prince “has always had direct, good personal relationships with the rulers of Qatar. He would definitely not need a consultant to help in this relationship. ”

The full scope of Mr. Chalker’s work for Qatar is unclear, but AP reviewed the various Global Risk Advisors projects proposed between 2014 and 2017, showcasing proposals not only directly related to the FIFA World Cup.

Among them was “Kirka”, which promised to collect “personal information and biometrics” of migrants working in Qatar. The project, called Falconeye, has been described as a plan to use unmanned aerial vehicles to monitor ports and border operations, as well as “monitor migrant labor centers.”

“Through its preliminary investigation and verification program, Qatar will maintain a dominant position of migrant workers,” says one of the GRA documents.

Another project, Viper, promised local or remote “use of mobile devices,” which Global Risk Advisors said would provide “critical information” and increase national security. The use of such technology, provided by private firms, is well documented by autocratic countries around the world, including the Persian Gulf.

The private video surveillance business has thrived in the Gulf over the past decade, as an information war erupted in the region using state-sponsored hacking operations that coincided with preparations for the World Cup.

Three former US intelligence and military personnel recently confessed to providing hacking services to a UAE-based company called “DarkMatter” as part of a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department. A Reuters A 2019 investigation revealed that DarkMatter hacked the phones and computers of the Emir of Qatar, his brother, and FIFA officials.

Mr. Chalker, who opened an office in Doha and had an email account for the Qatari government, said in a spokesman’s statement that he and his companies “will never engage in illegal surveillance.”

Former associates of Chalker say his companies have provided various services to Qatar in addition to intelligence. Global Risk Advisors markets itself as “an international strategic consulting company specializing in cybersecurity, military and law enforcement training, and intelligence-based advisory services,” and its affiliates have won small contracts with the FBI for training and technical consulting for the National Committee Democratic Party.

Mr. Chalker declined to be interviewed or answer detailed questions about his work for the Qatari government. Mr Chalker also argued that some of the documents reviewed v AP were fakes.

AP reviewed hundreds of pages of documents from Mr Chalker’s companies, including the 2013 project update report, which included several photographs of Mr Chalker’s staff meeting with various football officials. Multiple sources with authorized access have provided documents to AP… The sources said they were concerned about Mr. Chalker’s work for Qatar and asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation.

AP took several steps to verify the authenticity of documents. This includes confirming details of various documents from various sources, including Chalker’s former associates and football officials; cross-checking document content with up-to-date news reports and publicly available business records; and examining the metadata of electronic documents or digital history, if any, to confirm who prepared the documents and when. Mr Chalker did not provide AP any evidence supporting his position that some of the documents in question were forged.

Qatari government officials did not respond to requests for comment. FIFA also declined to comment.

Many papers reviewed AP The description of the work done by Mr. Chalker and his companies on behalf of Qatar is also described in a lawsuit filed by Elliott Brody, a one-time fundraiser for former US President Donald Trump. Mr. Broydi has sued Mr. Chalker and accused him of organizing a large-scale hacking and espionage campaign at the direction of Qatar, which includes the use of former Western intelligence officers to spy on FIFA officials. Mr Broydy’s lawyers did not respond to requests for comment. Mr. Chalker’s legal team argued that the lawsuit was unfounded.

According to former associates, Mr. Chalker worked for the CIA as chief operating officer for about five years before moving to work in Qatar. Operations officers usually work undercover trying to recruit agents to spy on behalf of the United States. The CIA declined to comment and usually does not discuss its former officers.

But earlier this year, the agency sent a letter to former employees warning of a “pernicious trend” in which foreign governments are hiring former intelligence officers “to build up their espionage capabilities,” according to a copy of the letter it received. AP and first reported New York Times

Congress is currently promoting legislation that will set new reporting requirements for former US intelligence officers working overseas.



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