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Category: Lebanon

Another Malware Threat Discovered in the Middle East

Iran’s nuclear ambitions have been marred by the intrusion of viruses that have sabotaged its computers. So far, two major cyber-attacks have been reported and have been given the name Stuxnet and Flame. While the U.S. and Israel have been accused of being the masterminds behind the virus assault, both nations have denied involvement.

The cyber-attack continues on with the emergence of a new virus. This one is being dubbed the “Gauss” and appears to be created for the purpose of hacking into banking institutions in the Middle East. This virus is so complex and advanced that it is believed that it could only be carried out by a nation and not by a lone hacker or small organization. Once again, the U.S. and Israel are being blamed for the attack though both countries are claiming innocence.

So far, Gauss has mainly targeted banking institutions in Lebanon though attacks have also been verified in 25 other countries. However, it is believed the virus is more directed for the purpose of monitoring transaction information rather than stealing money. It is also capable of stealing passwords and monitoring audio and keystrokes. Gauss was discovered in June though the virus is believed to have been active since last September. About 2,500 accounts have been reportedly hacked and monitored by Gauss though it is believed the actual number of infected accounts could be in the tens of thousands.

In the past few months, The Middle East has come under the assault of extremely sophisticated malware. Stuxnet was the first to be discovered and was responsible for hampering the progress of Iran’s nuclear facilities. This was followed by Flame and Duqu, which targeted various computer systems throughout various regions in the Middle East. It is believed all these viruses are linked and originated from the same creator.

Video Surfaces of Migrant Worker in Lebanon being Beaten and Dragged into Car

Alem Dechasa, a domestic worker out of Ethiopia, took her own life just days after a video surfaced of her being beaten and forced into a car in Beirut, Lebanon. The disturbing video brings to light a human rights issue that has been largely ignored in Lebanon. The abuse of migrant workers, particularly women, is an epidemic that is largely ignored and swept under the rug.

Recently, as many as eight civil society groups appealed to Lebanese authorities to adopt labor laws to address the increasing number of abuse that have been committed against migrant workers. The footage was shown on Lebanese news and showed Dechasa being physically assaulted by a man while a second assailant dragged her into a car. The attacker was later identified as the brother of the head of a migrant worker recruiting firm.

The recruiting agency alleges that they were trying to bring her back to Ethiopia due to her mental health issues. Dechasa was later found by police who brought her to a detention center. From there, she was transferred to Deir al-Saleeb psychiatric hospital for evaluation. It was at this location that she took her own life.

At this point, no arrests have been made. Civil rights groups have since been urging Lebanese officials to condemn such human rights violations that have been occurring against migrant workers like Dechasa. While her case drew national attention due to the video, there are hundreds of more cases of migrant workers being brought over to work as maids who are abused on a daily basis. It is a serious problem that is not getting the level of outcry that it needs.

Migrant workers are currently not covered under Lebanese labor laws. This is something that human rights groups are addressing at the moment. Hopefully, something can be done before another worker turns up dead.

Lebanese Canadian Bank Hezbollah Connection

The Obama administration is accusing the Lebanese Canadian Bank of laundering money for the terrorist group Hezbollah. It seems like the bank is doing business with an international Cocaine ring which is tied to the Shiite militant group. Acting as a central hub, the bank based in Beirut, Lebanon, is charged with laundering and transferring large sums of money globally helping the organization stay afloat in these hard financial times.

One agent involved in the investigation compared Hezbollah to the Mafia, saying, “They operate like the Gambinos on steroids.” On Tuesday, federal prosecutors in Virginia announced the indictment of the man at the center of the Lebanese Canadian Bank case, charging that he had trafficked drugs and laundered money not only for Colombian cartels, but also for the murderous Mexican gang Los Zetas.

Hezbollah has traditionally received over 200 Million Dollars annually from its bosom buddies, Iran and Syria. These days with Iran having its neck rung by financial sanctions and Syria’s delicate murderous, screwed up dictator – busy butchering his own people (Assad), times are hard. So what does a terror group in need of fast cash do? Say hello to my little friend – its time for the Colombian connection to kick in! The Hezbollah is now into the South American cocaine trade. Is that great or what?

Oh, Hezbollah! Oh, Syria!

What happens when panicked Sunni Syrians trying to escape the Baath regime flee to Hezbollah-ruled Lebanon? What do you think!

Lebanese security forces are rounding up Syrian refugees, namely from the border village of Tel Kalakh and sending them back to Syria where 800 citizens have been murdered by Bashir al-Assad in recent months. The refugees stuffed provisions into plastic shopping bags, their wounded on cheap synthetic blankets and crossed the shallow and muddy Kabir river, on foot, looking for medical aid and refuge from residents in the northern city of Tripoli.

One resident, near Damascus, who, out of fear of being arrested, would not give his real name told a reporter from the Guardian:

“There were roadblocks everywhere…It was impossible to hide who these people were, they were looking for Syrians escaping Tell Kalakh…They caught most of them and sent them back through the crossing…Why does Lebanon send our brothers back to be killed and tortured by these monsters?”

According to the New York Times, a reporter from Al Jazeera, Dorothy Parvaz, who disappeared in Syria two weeks ago was sent to Iran within two days of being detained. She is still in Iranian custody! Oy va voy!

Some Syrians turned away at Turkish, Jordanian and Lebanese borders, are heading for Israel. Israel has increased troops deployed on the Syrian border at the intersection of the Israel-Syria-Jordan frontiers in the Har Dov area against the spate of tens of thousands of Syrian refugees. The UN force on the Golan Heights – UNDOF – is also strengthening their forces policing the Israeli-Syrian ceasefire lines.

Despite their unwillingness to help their Sunni neighbors, the Shiite Hezbollah in Lebanon is actually gearing up to remove its heavy, long-range weapons out of storage in Syrian military facilities and transport them back to Lebanon.

Debkafile reported:

“Hezballah may even risk Israel making good on its threat to destroy the Iran-made Fatah-110 surface missiles, its Syrian equivalent M-600 and mobile SA-8 (Gecko) anti-air battery – if they cross the border.”

Meanwhile, an Israeli Navy commander from the missile corvettes’ unit told Globes:

“For quite some time, we have been thinking about how to deal with the opening of the marine front westward to ranges that are almost double what we were used to control and operate in…”

The Missile Corvettes’ unit is responsible for protecting Israel’s offshore natural gas fields, such as Leviathan and Tamar, against the Hezbollah.

The commander continued:

“The gas fields are located west of Rosh Hanikra (the Israeli-Lebanese border point on the Mediterranean). The claims by [Hizbullah general secretary Hassan] Nasrullah that the fields extend into Lebanese waters are not true, even under international law. These are the economic waters of Israel…”

Navy chief of staff Rear Admiral Rani Ben-Yehuda said:

“There is considerable activity in Israel’s economic waters, ranging from surveys by rights’ owners through the drilling of exploratory wells…There is a whole range of possible threats against each of these elements. There is no doubt that strategic infrastructures are included in rules of the threats game.”

While a 2008 U.S. diplomatic cable leaked by WikiLeaks quotes now-Lebanese prime minister, Najib Mikati, describing Nasrallah and Hezbollah as a “tumour that must be removed.”

However, Mikati’s office released a statement this week saying the comments did not “reflect his convictions.”

“The prime minister will not get involved in debates with any party, especially over … words and positions that are in part untrue, in part inaccurate and most of which go back years…”

Today, Hezbollah is said to have an arsenal of more than 40,000 rockets. If war breaks out with Israel, Hezbollah will be able to launch between 500 and 600 rockets every day at the Jewish State.

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