Wikistrat is a little consulting company affiliated with Israeli intelligence. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team has investigated the owner of the company Joel Zamel, but why? The reason is that the Trump campaign hired Wikistrat, because it had very special dark abilities.
The firm had been researching how a foreign entity could interfere in U.S. politics and shape perceptions among Americans. Zamel pitched the campaign explaining how it did its work, and Trump asked them to provide the same research to his people for the 2016 presidential election.
The Daily Beast did an exclusive report on how this all unfolded. One of Wikistrat’s analysts Peter Marino worked on the firm’s report in 2015. He spoke to The Daily Beast and said it was all “disturbing:”
“At the time we were discussing the subject of cyber interference in democratic processes, it felt like just another idle intellectual exercise. But retrospectively, it feels a bit too on-the-nose not to be disturbing.’
Zamel is an Israeli-Australian with “deep contacts in Middle Eastern intelligence circles,” The Daily Beast found. Interestingly enough, no one seems to have a photograph of him.
Top Trump campaign member Rick Gates went over the information provided by another company named Psy Group. Zamel appears to own that one, too. Its approach was:
‘…creating thousands of fake social media accounts to support then-candidate Trump and disparage his opponents.’
Wikistrat explained that it could weaponize social media using bots to Trump’s advantage:
‘Cyber-mercenaries are mainly hired by governments as online counter-information and counter-counter-information officers. Disguised as ordinary citizens, these cyber-mercenaries are experts at sensationalizing and distorting political issues in a manner that appeals to common sense.’
‘Their objectives are not to convince explicitly, but rather subconsciously, by inserting a seed of doubt that leads to confusion and encourages fact-skepticism. Their ultimate targets are foreign governments, but their attacks are launched on proxy targets, ordinary citizens, chiefly ignorant, vulnerable, and uneducated populaces of a particular nation-state.’
The analyst said that places such as “Russia’s Internet Research Group” already had been weaponizing the social media internally before it attacked the U.S. elections:
‘As a foreign policy tool, misinformation can be used to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt among the population of antagonist countries, therefore furthering the instigator’s own agenda,” the analyst added. “Instead of direct government involvement, using cyber-mercenaries to enact these operations would create a degree of indirection and a veneer of plausible deniability that would make it harder to clearly separate propaganda from facts.’
Then, another analyst said this about trolling:
‘(T)hese ‘cyber-trolls’ are trained controversialists: they openly engage in public controversy…People are drawn to the excitement of controversy and these cyber-trolls are experts in sensationalizing a political issue. The objective of cyber-trolls is not to convince explicitly, but rather subconsciously, by inserting a seed of doubt that leads to confusion and encourages fact-skepticism.’
‘They are not afraid to use provocative and confrontational language, as it is to their advantage if it leads to an emotional rise in the reader because the reader is then more likely to engage in debate, which in-turn, creates more buzz and attracts a greater audience, increasing the potential number of people exposed to this misinformation campaign.’
The Daily Beast reported on a Lebanese-American representative for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) George Nader met with the former owner of Blackwater and brother to Trump’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos:
‘The problem is when you combine that with the fact of all the other allegations against Mr. Zamel, including the allegations that he received payment from George Nader, that Psy Group was allegedly involved with a social media manipulation campaign first during the primary and then during the general—you combine all of that with the fact that at another company he owns, Wikistrat, his analysts came up with a scenario that’s eerily similar to what wound up happening. It’s circumstantial, certainly, but it is very concerning.’
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.