US imposes sanctions on former senior IDF officer over spyware sales to dictators

Col. Tal Dilian heads the Intellexa Consortium, which distributed the Predator spyware worldwide, which was used by foreign countries for surveillance against US government officials and journalists

Itamar Eichner|
The U.S. Treasury Department has placed sanctions on a former senior Israeli military officer, Col. Tal Dilian, and on other individuals and five entities associated with the cyber corporation Intellexa. The sanctions announced on Tuesday were imposed on the development, operation and distribution of commercial spyware against US targets, including government officials.
<< Follow Ynetnews on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | TikTok >>
Read more:
The announcement states that the proliferation of commercial spyware poses "distinct and growing" security risks to the United States and has been misused by foreign actors to enable human rights abuses and the targeting of dissidents around the world for repression and reprisal.
1 View gallery
Former senior Israeli military officer, Col. Tal Dilian, head of the Intellexa Consortium
Former senior Israeli military officer, Col. Tal Dilian, head of the Intellexa Consortium
Former senior Israeli military officer, Col. Tal Dilian, head of the Intellexa Consortium
(Photo: Reuters)
According to the announcement of the sanctions, since its founding in 2019, the Intellexa Consortium has "acted as a marketing label for a variety of offensive cyber companies that offer commercial spyware and surveillance tools to enable targeted and mass surveillance campaigns." These tools are packaged together as “Predator” spyware, which can infiltrate a range of electronic devices through zero-click attacks that require no user interaction for the spyware to infect the device.
Once an electronic device is infected with the Predator spyware, the software can be leveraged for a variety of information theft and surveillance capabilities - including unauthorized data extraction, geographic location tracking, and access to a variety of applications and personal information on the affected device. The operators of the spyware can locate sensitive user information - including contacts, call logs, and information about messages and recordings from the device.
The Intellexa Consortium, which has a global customer base, "has enabled the proliferation of commercial spyware and surveillance technologies around the world, including to authoritarian regimes," according to the U.S. Treasury Department. Furthermore, the Predator spyware has been deployed by foreign actors in an effort to covertly surveil U.S. government officials, journalists, and policy experts. In the event of a successful Predator infection, the spyware’s operators can access and retrieve sensitive information including contacts, call logs, and messaging information, microphone recordings, and media from the device.
Tal Dilian is the founder of the Intellexa Consortium, and is the "architect" behind its spyware tools, according to the sanctions announcement. The consortium is a "complex international web" of decentralized companies controlled either fully or partially by Dilian, including through Sara Aleksandra Fayssal Hamou, Dilian's partner, who has Polish and Cypriot citizenship, and against whom sanctions were also imposed.
The U.S. sanctions prevent access to property, and prohibit people in the U.S. from conducting transactions with those on the sanctions list. Financial institutions and other entities that are in a business relationship with those on the list may expose themselves to sanctions as well.
The commenter agrees to the privacy policy of Ynet News and agrees not to submit comments that violate the terms of use, including incitement, libel and expressions that exceed the accepted norms of freedom of speech.