By Kim Zetter
November 3, 2009
Agents of Israel's Mossad intelligence service hacked into the computer
of a senior Syrian government official a year before Israel bombed a
facility in Syria in 2007, according to Der Spiegel.
The intelligence agents planted a Trojan horse on the official's
computer in late 2006 while he was staying at a hotel in the Kensington
district of London, the German newspaper reported Monday in an extensive
account of the bombing attack.
The official reportedly left his computer in his hotel room when he went
out, making it easy for agents to install the malware that siphoned
files from the laptop. The files contained construction plans for the Al
Kabir complex in eastern Syria - said to be an illicit nuclear facility -
as well as letters and hundreds of detailed photos showing the complex
at various stages of construction.
At the beginning - probably in 2002, although the material was
undated - the construction site looked like a treehouse on stilts,
complete with suspicious-looking pipes leading to a pumping station
at the Euphrates. Later photos show concrete piers and roofs, which
apparently had only one function: to modify the building so that it
would look unsuspicious from above. In the end, the whole thing
looked as if a shoebox had been placed over something in an attempt
to conceal it. But photos from the interior revealed that what was
going on at the site was in fact probably work on fissile material.
Early in the morning of September 6, 2007, Israeli fighter jets bombed
the complex, located in the desert near the Euphrates river about 80
miles from the Iraq border. The attack, dubbed "Operation Orchard,"
seemed to come out of nowhere and was marked by a resounding silence
from both Israel and the United States afterward.