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How did I get involved in the Bezos hack story? It starts in August 2018 when my late friend Jamal Khashoggi came to me with an idea for a disinformation monitor to track the propaganda output of Arab dictatorships, esp the Saudi regime's...
Unfortunately Jamal was killed too soon and the disinformation monitor as a formal project did not take off, but my team had already started closely monitoring Saudi propaganda output, especially after Jamal's murder
It was in mid October that we noticed some curious trends in the Saudi disinformation space re disparagement of Bezos. In November, this disparagement campaign escalated. There were videos, TV programming, newspaper articles, cartoons etc all attacking Bezos in Saudi media
The disinformation output had a few clear narratives, but the meta message was that Jeff Bezos was to blame for the WaPost's relentless reporting of the Khashoggi murder, and that Bezos should have stopped this reporting, given that he owns the WaPost
Then in January, when the National Enquirer revealed Bezos's affair, we also saw activity in the Saudi disinformation networks, essentially saying "this is what happens to whoever targets Saudi Arabia".
Still we didn't fully connect the dots until Jeff Bezos published a Medium blog in February 2019 saying that he was the target of a blackmail attempt. We proceeded to put together as much information as we could about what we thought happened, and we published it.
A couple days after we made that information public, I was contacted by the head of Bezos's security team. We established a working relationship and coordinated closely from then on. We were now able to ask Bezos's team about what happened on specific dates.
By March of 2019, we became convinced that there was indeed a hack. A full forensic report later convinced us further.
On 25 April 2019, Norwegian intelligence agents show up at my door and take me into protection. They tell me I'm the target of a threat from Saudi Arabia. I immediately knew what for.
And so we had our eyes on this months before Bezos's team contacted us. And we've been working on it for most of 2019 with coordination with Bezos's security team.
Random, but last night I was clearing out an old bag (I was asked to change apartments by Norwegian security authorities a few months ago). I found a bunch of cards, and among them, I found this...
And only then I realized that I never cried for my fallen friend. Since his death it's been blind rage and a solid determination to make them pay. But last night... I cried for my fallen friend.
Rest in peace and power, Jamal. We will never forgive, we will never forget, and we will never stop fighting.
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