Alex Constantine - October 4, 2021
By Alex Constantine
In a sting video broadcast by the Britain's Channel 4, Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix can be heard explaining that the company had signed subcontractors for the Trump campaign: “We use some British companies, we use some Israeli companies." The primary Israeli firm (a cut-out for submerged Russian partners, as will soon be evident) is branded The Psy Group. (Source: Nast, Condé. "The Dark Truth About Cambridge Analytica's Ties to Trumpworld". Vanity Fair, Retrieved 2019-06-09.)
The Psy Group slogan: "Shape Reality."
According to The New Yorker, Psy Group's techniques included "the use of elaborate false identities to manipulate its targets. Psy Group was part of a new wave of private intelligence firms that recruited from the ranks of Israel’s secret services," private Mossad spin-offs. "The most aggressive of these firms seemed willing to do just about anything for their clients. Its operatives took advantage of technological innovations and lax governmental oversight. 'Social media allows you to reach virtually anyone and to play with their minds,' Uzi Shaya, a former senior Israeli intelligence officer, said. 'You can do whatever you want. You can be whoever you want. It’s a place where wars are fought, elections are won, and terror is promoted. There are no regulations. It is a no man’s land.”" (Source: Adam Entous and Ronan Farrow, "Private Mossad for Hire," The New Yorker, February 11, 2019.)
The trolls at Russia's Internet Research Agency had accomplices in Israel. But Psy Group is not strictly an Israeli concern -- prominent Russians have an appreciable stake in the firm.
Protexer Limited, the parent company of Psy Group, also owns a business run by a Russian billionaire, Mikhail Slipenchuk.
nvestigative reporter Scott Steadman writes that another Soviet-born entrepreneur, Vasyl Khmelnytsky, "used Protexer Limited in his business as well. Multiple reports in mid-2018 revealed that the corporate structure of Khmelnytsky’s UFuture Investment Group included Cypriot and British Virgin Islands companies, including Protexer Limited.
Khmelnytsky is a "multi-millionaire who happens to be longtime business partners with the developers of Trump Tower Toronto, Alex Shnaider and Eduard Shifrin. That project, it was later revealed, was largely funded by the Russian state-owned bank VEB.
"The connection between Khmelnytsky and Protexer Limited, the parent company of Psy Group, further raises questions about the true ownership and funding of the Israel-centered intelligence company. ..."
"It was also revealed in 2018 that Protexer Limited was directly in business with a subsidiary of the Russian-state controlled Gazprombank. With the addition of Khmelnytsky and Slipenchuk, Protexer Limited appeared flush with Ukrainian and Russian money at the same time that Psy Group (at the time owned by Protexer Limited) pitched its spy-like services to the Trump campaign." (Source: Scott Steadman, "New Evidence Calls Into Question Psy Group Ownership on Several Fronts," (Source: Scott Steadman website, March 29, 2019.)
The recently released Senate Intelligence Committee report on Russian interference in the 2016 election notes, "Psy Group was founded in Israel on December 22, 2014, as a private intelligence firm specializing in collection and analysis of information, as well as online reputation management and targeted influence. Joel Zamel, an Australian living in Israel, told the Committee that he founded Psy Group with Daniel Green and Elad Schaffer. Zamel indicated that Psy Group comprised two entities: a parent company named IOCO Ltd. in Cypress, and a subsidiary company based in Israel named Invop Ltd.
"Royi Burstien, an Israeli citizen, was the chief executive officer at Psy Group. Burstien had left the Israeli military in 2014 and established I2A ('Intelligence Influence Analysis'), a private online influence and intelligence company.)
Promotional material reprinted by the Senate intel committee boasted of the firm's capabilities in "influence campaigns" and a suite of attendant services, including "online reputation management, offline campaigns, online campaigns, 'honey traps.'"
Alexander Nix's Channel 4 hot mic reference to prostitutes is thus confirmed by the Psy Group promotional adverts -- sent to the Trump campaign. Look into Psy Group, open any door, there are the painted ladies.
Elsewhere in the Psy-Group sales material, we find that the firm's Intelligence offering included "a "multi-level approach to intelligence collection" that combined open source research, cyber operations including social engineering and "honeypots ... to extract required information from the right sources," "and "covert techniques and capabilities in the physical world."
One proposed Psy Grpup operation is described in the Senate report involving a few familiar names:
ERIK PRINCE. One prpject, alternately named "Black Jack" and "Jack Black," was intended to improve the online reputation of American businessman and co-founder of the Blackwater private security services firm, Erik Prince, presumably in response to a request from Prince. Zamel indicated that a contract for work never materialized. Zamel said that he was introduced to Prince in 2016 :by former CIA official Cofer Black. According to Zamel, several follow-on meetings with Prince occurred, at which Zamel and Prince discussed human rights work related to the Middle East.
OLEG DERIPASKA: According to Burstien, Psy Group engaged in an "intelligence project" (codenamed "Project Starbucks") in 2015 for Oleg Deripaska involving a business dispute with a large Austrian company, possibly connected to real estate. It was unclear what specifically prompted Project Starbucks, but Deripaska was "mad about it," and wanted to find derogatory information on the Austrian company to expose unscrupulous, "fraudulent" business practices. Deripaska hired Israeli national Walter Soriano, who subsequently put Deripaska or his unidentified representatives in touch with Psy Group.
DMITRI RYBOLOVLEV [see the previous section on Dmitri and the Mercer-Trump clique's games of musical yachts and planes]: Psy Group undertook a separate "intelligence project" in 2016 for Dmitry Rybolovlev relating to a dispute with the art dealer Yves Bouvier. Walter Soriano linked Rybolovlev with Psy Group to find derogatory information on Bouvier. (a large block of this paragraph in the Senate intel report is redacted.)
Psy Group's involvement in the Trump campaign came about this way:
,"On March 29, 2016, Birnbaum met with Rick Gates at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Washington, D.C., having been introduced to Gates by mutual friend Eckart Sager. During this meeting, Gates referenced 'the challenge of the delegates' and 'opposition research on Hillary Clinton' and asked Birnbaum whether there was "any Israel[i] technology that could help us with some of these goals?" Specifically, Gates asked about using technology to identify Republican delegates as either 'pro-Trump, anti-Trump, or 'on the fence,' and further, whether the last category of delegates might be influenced through social media. Gates also asked about using publicly available information to conduct opposition research against Hilary Clinton and 'up to ten of her closest circle.'"
The fpllowing day, March 30, 2016, "Birnbaum contacted Charnoff to discuss Psy Group conducting work for the Trump Campaign. Charnoff then sent an email to Psy Group employees Amon Epstein, Royi Burstien, and others, outlining a business opportunity for Psy Group with the Trump Campaign. Charnoff explained that he (Charnoff) and Epstein had been in contact with 'a major American campaign consultant who [had] been tasked by the [T]rump campaign.' Charnoff indicated '[t]hey want us to [use] social platform analytical tools as well as our Rublik department capabilities to identify who is truly with [T]rump and who isn't and then run an influence campaign to impact their decision using avatars and creating third partyassets and outreach.' Charnoff closed his email noting that '[b]y the end of today they want a rough estimate of what it will cost,' and that within the ensuing three days, a timeline and more exact cost estimate were required." (Source: (REPORT OF THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE UNITED STATES SENATE ON RUSSIAN ACTIVE MEASURES CAMPAIGNS AND INTERFERENCE IN THE 2016 U.S. ELECTION, VOLUME 5: COUNTERINTELLIGENCE THREATS AND VULNERABILITIES.)