Targeting U.S. Technologies
Near East

Case Study


While collection activity associated with actors in the East Asian and Pacific region continued to dominate fiscal year 2009 (FY09) reporting, actors from the second most active region, the Near East, accounted for an increasingly significant share of suspicious incident reporting to the Defense Security Service (DSS). Although DSS noted some shifts in emphasis and technique, the type, manner, and focus of Near East collection efforts remained relatively consistent with the previous year’s reporting.

In FY09, Near Eastern collectors continued to focus their efforts on information systems, aeronautics, and sensors technology, primarily using direct requests as the preferred method of operation (MO). Solicitation and seeking employment once again represented the second most common collection method for Near Eastern actors, while exploitation of foreign travel and visits rebounded from a precipitous drop noted in FY08. Although only representing the third most commonly noted Near Eastern MO, this method witnessed the largest increase in FY09.

Not to be overlooked, Near Eastern entities continued to use a multi-faceted approach to target cleared industry, employing a wide variety of collection affiliations to include government-associated, commercial, and non-traditional collectors like students, professors, and engineers to mask true end-user affiliation.


Similar to last year’s findings, the commercial sector was, once again, the most prolific Near Eastern collector affiliation, accounting for half of all suspicious collection attempts targeting cleared industry. Near Eastern entities continued to use seemingly legitimate companies in apparent attempts to obtain classified technology or information, often routing requests through third parties in their efforts to circumvent export embargoes and trade sanctions.

The most dramatic change in regional collection attempts in FY09 was the increase of reporting on entities with unknown affiliations. These unknown entities were responsible for 15 percent of all collection attempts from the Near East, more than double the rate from the previous year.

Analyst Comment: Suspicious entities contacting cleared industry are providing less identifying information and becoming more evasive likely in efforts to conceal any association with specific end-users, accounting for the increase in the unknown collector affiliations. Many of these masked collection activities were aided through the relative anonymity the Internet provides as a low-cost, high gain method to contact cleared industry. Cleared contractors should continue to be aware of this masked affiliation technique that shows no signs of future abatement. (Confidence Level: High)

Figure 8


The most noteworthy change in this year’s reporting was the apparent propensity of Near Eastern collectors attempting to exploit foreign visits and joint ventures to target and collect classified or restricted technology and information. Reports of Near Eastern actors using this method to contact cleared industry more than tripled from previous years, growing from four percent of all efforts in FY08 to 14 percent in FY09.

However, as has traditionally been the case, the direct request for information MO retained its position as the dominate collection technique, with Near Eastern collectors most frequently attempting to elicit information through emails, web-card submissions, faxes, phone calls, and face-to-face encounters.

Analyst Comment: Targeting using direct requests increases the number of targets of opportunity and likely increases the success rate for illegally acquiring classified or restricted U.S. technology. It is highly likely collectors commonly exploited this technique to pursue service agreements, joint ventures, or business relationships with U.S. cleared contractors in hopes of acquiring access to U.S. facilities, personnel, or classified technology. Once successful with the direct request method, Near Eastern collectors will often follow this approach with requests to visit sites within the United States seeking information outside standard official agreements. This strategy not only gains access to cleared industry but also increases opportunities to circumvent export control laws or sanctions. (Confidence Level: Moderate)

Although markedly less common than the use of direct requests, Near Eastern entities made consistent use of the solicitation and seeking employment method to acquire access, making that category the second-most common Near Eastern MO, replicating last year’s placement. Several Near Eastern countries used non-traditional collectors such as university students, scientists, professors, and engineers as collection surrogates. These collectors approached cleared industry seeking research positions and student placement within various U.S. universities and research and development facilities.

Figure 9


Near Eastern entities continued to target information systems technologies with the same emphasis as evidenced in FY08. Entities from the Near East specifically targeted information systems related to U.S. sensor-to-shooter command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) technology and aeronautics technology related to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The most significant change in Near Eastern collection priorities during this reporting period was the decline of laser and optics targeting with a concomitant increase in illicit efforts to obtain sensors technology. Targeting of lasers and optics technology dropped from second to fourth place in the hierarchy directly behind foreign collection efforts for sensors technology.

Analyst Comment: Industry reporting demonstrated consistent targeting of laser and optics technology over the last few years. However, during this reporting period, collectors from the Near East likely augmented their targeting efforts by expanding collection to include sensors and electronics technology related to missile defense radars; anti-ballistic missile defense capabilities; and advanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance technology. This intense interest in missile defense technology is likely attributable to gaps in regional military defense technology and constant military modernization efforts. (Confidence Level: Moderate)

Table 2


Near East collection efforts against information systems technology are likely to continue as the region attempts to acquire training simulators, software, and more sophisticated missile guidance and navigation technology necessary for force modernization. Advanced sensor systems, especially anti-ballistic missile radar systems, UAV control and weapons delivery technologies, and advanced C4ISR capabilities are likely to remain the focus of Near Eastern technology collection efforts. It is also likely regional stability will continue to influence the type and intensity of regional collection priorities with a focus on dual-use technologies and early warning systems.

It is also highly likely Near Eastern collectors will continue to exploit the direct request MO in efforts to acquire classified or restricted U.S. technology and information. These regional collectors will continue to manipulate the Internet, as it offers a low-cost, high gain method to approach cleared industry either directly or through computer network operations.

Technology diversion through third-party nations and the use of front companies are likely to persist as embargoes and sanctions continue to impede Near Eastern opportunities to legally obtain U.S. technology. The exploitation of classified or restricted information and knowledge through academic exchange is also expected to continue. Furthermore, because of current embargoes on countries within the region and their aging military equipment, foreign efforts to illegally acquire U.S. technology are likely to persist. (Confidence Level: High)

Back to Top