evidence that the N.S.A. had infiltrated the backbone of the Middle East’s banking infrastructure.
The latest leaks suggest that, by hacking EastNets, the N.S.A. may have successfully hacked, or at minimum targeted, computers inside some of the biggest banks in the Middle East, including ones in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates; Kuwait; Qatar; Syria; Yemen; and the Palestinian territories.
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On Friday, EastNets denied that it had been hacked. In a statement, the company said its Swift service bureau runs on a separate secure network that cannot be reached over the public internet. The company said the leaked documents that claimed its computers had been compromised referred to an old server that the bureau had retired in 2013.
“While we cannot ascertain the information that has been published, we can confirm that no EastNets customer data has been compromised in any way,” Hazem Mulhim, EastNets’ chief executive, said in the statement.
Among those listed as having been successfully “implanted,” or infected with spyware, are Noor Bank, Tadhamon International Islamic Bank, Al Quds Bank for Development and Investment, Arcapita Bank and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development.
When you see that, I immediately called General Mattis.
I said, what can we do?
And they came back with a number of different alternatives. And we hit them very hard.
Now, are we going to get involved with Syria?
No. But if I see them using gas and using things that — I mean even some of the worst tyrants in the world didn't use the kind of gases that they used. And some of the gases are unbelievably potent.
So when I saw that, I said we have to do something.