Top Israeli spy reveals real identity in online security breach Isra Yale

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The identity of the commander of Israel’s Unit 8200 is a closely guarded secret. He is one of the most sensitive characters in the military, one of the most powerful surveillance agencies in the world. To the US National Security Agency.

Yet after more than two decades operating in the shadows, the Guardian can reveal how the controversial spy chief – named Yossi Sariel – exposed his identity online.

The embarrassing security lapse is linked to a book he published on Amazon, which left a digital trail of his unique ID and links to account maps and calendar profiles along with a private Google account created in his name. .

The Guardian has confirmed with multiple sources that Suriel is the undercover author of The Human-Machine Team, a book in which he presents a radical vision of how artificial intelligence could transform the relationship between military personnel and machines.

Published in 2021 using a pen name consisting of his initials, Brigadier General YS, it provides a blueprint for the advanced AI-powered systems that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) deployed in Gaza six months ago. are advancing during the ongoing war.

An electronic version of the book also included an anonymous email address that could easily be traced back to the serial’s name and Google account. Contacted by the Guardian, an IDF spokesman said the email address was not Sariel’s personal, but “dedicated specifically to issues related to the book”.

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The security lapse is likely to put more pressure on Sariel, who is said to be “living and breathing” intelligence but whose tenure runs the IDF’s elite cyber-intelligence division. I am surrounded.

Unit 8200, once respected inside and outside of Israel for intelligence capabilities that rivaled Britain’s GCHQ, is believed to have carried out a wide-ranging surveillance program to closely monitor the Palestinian territories. Made equipment.

However, Hamas has been criticized for its failure to contain and prevent the deadly October 7 attack on southern Israel last year, in which Palestinian militants killed nearly 1,200 Israelis and kidnapped nearly 240 others. was

Since the Hamas-led attacks, there have been allegations that Unit 8200’s “technological hubris” came at the expense of more conventional intelligence-gathering techniques.

In its war in Gaza, the IDF has fully embraced Sariel’s vision of the future, in which military technology represents a new frontier where AI is used to accomplish increasingly complex tasks on the battlefield. is being done.

After the October 7 attacks at the Supernova Music Festival. Some have blamed Unit 8200’s ‘technological hubris’ for the intelligence failure. Photo: Manuel de Almeida/EPA

Suriel argued in a book published three years ago that his ideas about using machine learning to transform modern warfare should be mainstreamed. “We just need to take them from the periphery and bring them to the center of the stage,” he wrote.

One section of the book outlines the concept of an AI-powered “Targets Machine,” the specifications of which closely resemble the target recommendation systems the IDF is now known to use to bombard Gaza.

Over the past six months, the IDF has deployed a number of AI-driven decision support systems that have been rapidly developed and refined by Unit 8200, led by Saril.

These include Gospel and Lavender, two targeted recommendation systems that have been exposed in reports by the Israeli-Palestinian publication +972 magazine, its Hebrew-language outlet Local Call and The Guardian.

The IDF says its AI system is intended to assist human intelligence officers, who need to verify that military suspects are legitimate targets under international law. A spokesman said the military used “a variety of tools and methods”, adding: “Obviously, there are tools to benefit intelligence researchers that are based on artificial intelligence.”

Target machine

On Wednesday, the +972 and local call highlighted a link between Unit 8200 and a book authored by a mysteriously named Brigadier General YS.

Serial is understood to have written the book with the IDF’s permission after a year as a visiting researcher at the US National Defense University in Washington, DC, where he made the case for using AI to transform modern warfare.

For high-level military commanders and security officials, the book describes a “human-machine teaming” concept that seeks to achieve synergy between humans and AI rather than building fully autonomous systems.

According to a former intelligence official, this reflects Suriel’s ambition to become a “thought leader”. In the 2000s, he was a leading member of a group of academically minded spies known as “The Choir”, which agitated for an overhaul of Israeli intelligence practices.

The April 1 devastation near al-Shafa hospital in Gaza, the book argues, could be more effective using AI to create military targets. Photo: Anadolu/Getty Images

As of 2017, he was the head of intelligence for the IDF’s Central Command, according to an Israeli press report. His subsequent promotion to commander of Unit 8200 was the military establishment’s endorsement of his technological vision for the future.

Sariel cites in the book “a revolution” within the IDF in recent years, which has “developed a new concept of intelligence-based warfare to connect intelligence to combatants in the field”. He advocates going further, fully integrating intelligence and warfare, especially when conducting lethal targeting operations.

In one chapter of the book, he provides a template for how to build an efficient machine drawing on “big data” that the human brain can’t process. “The machine needs a lot of data about battlefields, demographics, visual information, cellular data, social media connections, photos, cell phone contacts,” he writes. “The more data and the more diverse, the better.”

Such a targeting machine would develop complex models that make predictions based on “many small, diverse features,” he said, citing examples such as “people who are members of Hezbollah in a WhatsApp group.” are with, people who get new cell phones every few months, people who change their addresses frequently.”

He argues that using AI to create potential military targets could be more effective and avoid the “interference” created by intelligence officers or soldiers. “There is a human barrier to both the detection of new targets and the decision-making to approve targets. The way to process large amounts of data is also a barrier. Then there is the barrier to connecting intelligence to fire. They further Says: “A team of machines and investigators can open and blow up this barrier.”

The distribution of intelligence

The revelation of the serial security lapse comes at a difficult time for the intelligence boss. In February, he came under public scrutiny in Israel after the Israeli newspaper Mario published an account of corruption within Unit 8200 following the October 7 attacks.

Suriel was not named in the article, which referred to Unit 8200’s commander only as “Y”. However, rare public criticism has focused a split within Israel’s intelligence community on its biggest failure in a generation.

The report states that critics of Serial believed that Unit 8200’s preference for “addictive and exciting” technology over more old-fashioned intelligence methods led to the disaster. A senior official told the newspaper that Suriel’s unit “followed the new intelligence bubble”.

For his part, Suriel is quoted as telling colleagues that October 7 will “haunt him” until his last day. “I take responsibility for what happened in the deepest sense of the word,” he said. “We lost.” I was defeated.”

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