The Prince And The Spy

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by Whitney Webb, Unlimited Hangout:

Erik Prince, the man behind Blackwater, recently teamed up with an Israeli spy, creating a front company with her to help Israeli defense technology providers exploit loopholes and sell their products to the American military.

For years, Erik Prince – the founder of mercenary firm Blackwater (now Academi) – has been a major source of controversy. Ever since he left Blackwater over a decade ago, Prince has appeared in the news for pushing to privatize several wars, his ties to former President Donald Trump’s presidential campaigns, his violation of international arms embargoes and his unusually close ties with Project Veritas, among other notable events and connections.

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However, some of Prince’s antics in recent years have not yet made it into the news – namely his decision to team up with an Israeli spy to build a very secretive company that has – until now – evaded scrutiny. That company, Comframe Solutions, appears to operate as an intelligence front and explicitly targets parts of the American military involved in highly sensitive combat operations. As this investigation will show, Prince’s partner in Comframe – Lital Leshem – has been tied to a series of apparent, and admitted, Israeli intelligence front companies, several of which have a focus on technology. Yet Prince and his close associate Chris Burgess – Comframe’s supposed president – have done everything they can to hide their association with the incredibly secretive company. Why might that be and what exactly is Comframe up to?

From “Army Brat” to Cyber Spy

Lital Leshem was raised as an “army brat” in Reut, Israel and Pennsylvania, USA. She later enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as she was “truly devoted to safeguarding the State of Israel.” She quickly rose in the ranks, becoming Operations Officer in the IDF of the besieged Gaza Strip and later becoming a Major, a position she continues to hold to this date through her “reserve duty activities.” According to her LinkedIn, she served in Israeli military intelligence from 2005 to 2011 and, more specifically, served in its signals intelligence unit – Unit 8200. She later attended IDC Herzliya, an Israeli university deeply tied to its military and intelligence apparatus. There, she met Amir Elichai and the two would co-create the company Reporty, which later became Carbyne911 – today known only as Carbyne.

Carbyne was originally founded as Reporty in 2014 by Leshem, Elichai and Alex Dizengof. Leshem and Elichai are Unit 8200 veterans, while Dizengof previously worked for Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office. Before it was revealed that Jeffrey Epstein had poured at least 1 million dollars into the company at the behest of his close associate Ehud Barak, Cabryne’s board of directors – which Barak chaired – included the former commander of Unit 8200, Pinchas Buchris, as well as Epstein associate turned venture capitalist Nicole Junkermann. In the wake of the Epstein scandal, Buchris, Barak and Junkerman, among others, were removed from the board and were largely replaced with veterans and former heads of American intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Leshem had left the company in 2017, but has continued to own shares in the company.

Ehud Barak, center, poses with Carbyne co-founders Alex Dizengof, Amir Elichai and Lital Leshem; Source: Yossi Seliger

Carbyne is a Next-Generation 9-11 (NG911) platform and the explicit goal of NG911 is for all 911 systems nationwide to become interconnected. It is currently active throughout the United States, its main target market. Its software has been criticized due to “serious privacy concerns” about the amount of information it harvests from smartphones that call a 911 call center running Carbyne’s software. For instance, Carbyne’s smartphone app extracts the following information from the phones on which it is installed:

“Device location, video live-streamed from the smartphone to the call center, text messages in a two-way chat window, any data from a user’s phone if they have the Carbyne app and ESInet, and any information that comes over a data link, which Carbyne opens in case the caller’s voice link drops out.”

The potential for Carbyne as a tool for mass surveillance has been extensively reported by NarativMintPress News and other outlets. In addition, Carbyne stores all data on past calls and events in order to “enabl[e] decision makers to accurately analyze the past and present behavior of their callers, react accordingly, and in time predict future patterns.” As a result, Carbyne – along with other Israeli intelligence-connected companies seeking to dominate the American “public safety” market – has the potential to facilitate controversial “predictive policing”, i.e. pre-crime, policies.

Screengrab from Carbyne’s website describing its c-Records feature, which has since been deleted; Source: Carbyne (archived)

In addition to Carbyne, Leshem also worked for Black Cube, which has since been removed from her LinkedIn. There, she had been the firms Director of Marketing. Black Cube was specifically outed as an Israeli intelligence front organization in a 2019 article published by Calcalist Tech. That same article also contains the stunning revelation that many Israeli companies, including Black Cube, have been founded as fronts for intelligence operations since 2012. It states that “since 2012, cyber-related and intelligence projects that were previously carried out in-house in the Israeli military and Israel’s main intelligence arms are transferred to companies that in some cases were built for this exact purpose.” The article also adds that:

“In some cases, managers of development projects in the Israeli military and intelligence arms were encouraged to form their own companies which then took over the [military and/or intelligence] project.”

With Leshem having worked for one company already known to be a product of this deliberate policy, it is worth scrutinizing Carbyne as being one such front, especially considering the common tie of Ehud Barak to both companies. In addition, Leshem has also worked for another company tied to Barak that has been described as worse than the NSO Group, which produced the notorious Pegasus software. Called Toka, its top executives – like Carbyne – are largely veterans of Israeli’s Unit 8200, where Leshem also served, or former commanders of Israeli military cyber operations.

Toka, which Ehud Barak founded in 2018, is very, very likely to be one of the front organizations produced as a result of the aforementioned 2012 Israeli intelligence policy. The company is directly partnered with Israel’s Ministry of Defense and other Israeli intelligence and security agencies since its founding and the company only sells its products to countries that are considered allies of Israel. It purports to be able to hack, not just smartphones, but any device with internet connectivity, such as doorbell cameras and other “smart” devices. As will be noted later in this article, Leshem herself has noted that Toka has a relationship with the CIA.

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