© IBI World Limited
The British referendum campaign to leave the European Union marked the point of no return of a structural crisis of information and, therefore, of the entire democratic system. A British company created a new market sector, social manipulation, building a public campaign made of lies, millions of posts scattered across social networks, blackmail against politicians and smear campaigns that, during the referendum campaign, even led to the murder, by a white supremacist, of Jo Cox MP, who was fighting for ‘remain’. To understand how, watch an extraordinary film from 2019: ‘Brexit: the uncivil war’.
This company, Cambridge Analytica, opens a new era, turning political espionage, even the most technological, into a thing of the past. Espionage, in fact, has as its purpose the discovery and disclosure of secrets. The new technique of social manipulation, on the other hand, does not give a damn about secrets: it creates a series of fictitious proofs of facts that never happened, rewrites our email and social network conversations, falsifies footage and evidence to manipulate the courts, bribes politicians, journalists and the military, and erases the credibility of information: today, because of this technology, it is no longer possible to truly believe anything, especially what we believe we have seen with our own eyes.
Fortunately, in all parts of the world, there is still someone fighting against this tentacular hydra, and debunking, one by one, the mystifications that have now become public knowledge. Cambridge Analytica has been disbanded, many of its operators have ended up on trial. But this changes nothing: on the wave of the violent smear campaign orchestrated by the Arab Emirates, Israel and Saudi Arabia against their enemies, an even more aggressive and dangerous company has been in action for some years now: Team Jorge.
Mossad, CIA, American extreme right: the usual poisonous soup
The very powerful Roger F. Noriega, for years diplomatic, military and intelligence advisor to the Republican administrations in the White House
Team Jorge is a disinformation company, which uses artificial intelligence to produce huge amounts of fake social profiles in order to influence the course of public debates, political controversies, directing discussions to generate discredit, stir the waters, create and feed false beliefs. Behind all this is the software AIMS (Advanced Impact Media Solutions), used by the team of Jorge, alias Tal Hanan.
The fake users created by AIMS amount to around thirty thousand; the falsification of the profiles reaches high levels of sophistication, the result of the work of an artificial intelligence that provides a credible background for each fake user made up of pictures, royal family likenesses, salacious jokes, pay-per-view subscriptions. It is the most advanced in the world today in the field of social manipulation.
Tal Hanan-Jorge is an Israeli with a past in the special forces, the mastermind of the team – operating in the city of Modi’in – that has developed the software responsible for numerous successful disinformation operations in election campaigns and trade disputes in dozens of countries around the world: 33 presidential elections (including the 2015 election in Nigeria), 27 of which were successfully conducted, and fake campaigns on trade disputes in twenty countries, including Great Britain, the United States, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Mexico, Senegal, India and the United Arab Emirates. Nevertheless, Tal Hanan and his brother Zohar, the group’s managing director, declare that they have always acted in accordance with the law.
Through AIMS, fake Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Telegram, Twitter and Gmail profiles are created, but it is also possible to hack any Telegram and Gmail account, exploiting vulnerabilities in the SS7 system: members of Team Jorge go directly to a telecommunication service provider in the country where they are working and install a physical device that allows the team to enter fake commands into the system. This causes the telecommunications provider to send an SMS to authenticate the forged target account, allowing Team Jorge to read messages from their target and even send messages from the hacked accounts.
The journalistic investigation, which allowed Hanan’s work to be revealed, took place as part of a global collaboration called Story Killers, coordinated by Forbidden Stories, involving more than 100 journalists from 30 media outlets. Forbidden Stories is an international consortium of investigative journalists who investigate the work of colleagues who have been killed or work under threat.
Former Mossad deputy chief Ilan Mizrahi
In the course of 2022, reporters Gur Meggido (TheMarker), Frédéric Métézeau (Radio France) and Omer Benjakob (Haaretz) worked undercover, contacting the Jorge team in the guise of intermediaries of a secret and powerful client with a major interest in indefinitely delaying the elections in Chad. In order to influence US policy to support the operation in Chad, Hanan claims to be able to count on the cooperation of former Mossad deputy chief and national security advisor Ilan Mizrahi, as well as a certain Roger F. Noriega, who turns out to be a powerful man in the US federal administration with an extremely cumbersome past.
The investigation reveals that the mysterious Jorge is Tal Hanan thanks to a boast by the latter, which emerged during a meeting the undercover reporters had at Team Jorge’s headquarters in December 2022. Hanan, who makes sure never to reveal his identity to clients, declares at the end of the meeting that he worked with Cambridge Analytica – the world’s first and largest social manipulation company, capable of convincing the British people to vote for Brexit and the American people to vote for Donald Trump, now outlawed.
Searching through the defunct consultancy’s emails published after its closure, his name actually emerges as the CEO of Demoman International (registered to his home address in Modi’in), a company founded in 1999 that provides services for security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies, working with various government agencies; it also appears on the Israeli Ministry of Defence’s website as a company that promotes defence exports. A biography of Tal Hanan was also featured on the website of ‘Visión Américas’, a strategic advisory firm headed by Roger F. Noriega, Assistant US Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere during the George W. Bush administration.
Hanan is also listed as an associate of Visión Américas, in close relationship with a US ultra-right-wing figure (Noriega) who has been involved in US affairs in Latin America since the early 1980s: he, working at the US Agency for International Development (USAID) of the Reagan administration, supervised the sending of ‘non-lethal’ aid to the Nicaraguan Contras as part of the long operation of financing the paramilitary group, born from the ashes of the Guardia Nacional of dictator Anastasio Somoza, deposed with the Sandinista revolution of 1979. Investigations linked to the Iran-Contra scandal have shown that the account used by Noriega to donate aid to the Contras was used by the Medellin drug cartel to clean 230,000 dollars from drug trafficking.
Tal Hanan, as a cover for his social manipulation activities, uses a renewable energy trading company of which he is owner and director, Sol Energy Ltd. (Kensington, Maryland). Among his partners, the best known is the Venezuelan Martin Rodil, with a past position at the International Monetary Fund: thanks to Hanan’s mediation, Rodil becomes a Mossad source against Hezbollah and the alleged funding of Iranian terrorism in Latin America, with particular reference to hypothetical links between Venezuela and Tehran’s nuclear programme. Rodil is a partner in Visión Américas.
A case in point: Kenya
Nairobi, 9 February 2023: Kenya’s President William Ruto (left) meets the bloodthirsty dictator of Eritrea, Isaias Afwerki (right)
In a meeting via Zoom last July with undercover journalists, Hanan provides a demonstration of the capabilities of the AIMS software, while revealing the vulnerability of the social media and mailing tools currently used by billions of people: he shows reporters a screen containing the Telegram account of Kenyan political strategy consultant and journalist Dennis Itumbi, at the time working as a digital strategist in the presidential campaign of William Ruto, who became president of Kenya after the August 2022 elections. Hanan goes live in a recent conversation Itumbi had with a Kenyan businessman and writes a message, showing that he can edit and read all profile conversations.
During the virtual meeting, Hanan shows email and Telegram accounts of four other personalities linked to the upcoming elections in Kenya: Farouk Kibet, William Ruto’s aide, Davis Chirchir, Minister of Energy and Petroleum in President Kenyatta’s government at the time (he was confirmed by Ruto) , James Omingo Magara, a former member of parliament in Nairobi, and Simon Mbugua, a former member of the East African Legislative Assembly. After William Ruto’s victory, the side that supported Raila Odinga’s presidential candidacy (defeated by a few hundred thousand votes)  embarked on a campaign to delegitimise the result; part of the basis on which the accusations of this campaign were based involved Itumbi and Chirchir themselves.
To be clear: in this way Hanan can create fictitious conversations between these people, about their real personal accounts, and in this way he can get them to say anything: to admit to a murder, an episode of corruption, a betrayal, the organisation of a terrorist act or a Sato coup. A tremendous weapon of manipulation. The extent of Team Jorge’s interference in the Kenyan elections and the subsequent campaign is unclear, but what is certain is that both sides have used disinformation as an instrument of prevarication; proof of this is, among other things, the dissemination of anonymous videos denouncing electoral fraud and accusing the West of vote rigging.
The relationship between Kenyan politicians and consulting firms is not limited to this election round: in 2013 and 2017 Cambridge Analytica worked for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s campaigns, playing a key role in his election. In 2017, Hanan offered its services in Kenya to SCL Group, the company that controls Cambridge Analytica. In 2022, as Kenyatta could not run for a third term, he decided to support former rival Odinga in the race against William Ruto, whose candidature was sabotaged by Hanan’s group.
In Nigeria with Cambridge Analytica
The Cambridge Analytica team, still in action, in Nigeria with Team Jorge
Further evidence of the relationship between Cambridge Analytica and Tal Hanan emerges from Brittany Kaiser’s words to British MPs in 2018 regarding the election influence scandal in which the company is involved. Kaiser, SCL Group’s former director of programme development reveals that she introduced Goodluck Jonathan, president of Nigeria, to Israeli consultants tasked with gathering information for governments and providing services not officially offered by SCL. In December 2014, a Nigerian oil tycoon was introduced to Ms Kaiser to commission Cambridge Analytica to run a secret election campaign in support of the president’s re-election – budget for the operation: $2.5 million.
In order to enable Jonathan to defeat his rival Muhammadu Buhari, who relies on AKPD Message and Media (the communications company that oversaw Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns) for his campaign, Cambridge Analytica collaborates with an Israeli private intelligence company called Black Cube to illegally acquire medical and financial information on Buhari.
There are currently no known direct links between Tal Hanan’s Team Jorge and Black Cube, whose founders Dan Zorella and Avi Yanus and an employee were convicted in 2022 in Romania for intimidation and corruption, after two other elements of the company suffered the same fate in 2016 and 2017. Certainly, both groups are working on the Cambridge Analytica operation in Nigeria, which did not prevent Jonathan’s defeat in favour of Buhari, despite the incidents and demonstrations instigated by the group of saboteurs near Buhari’s strongholds with the aim of discouraging citizens from going to the polls.
Another tool widely used in the campaign is the continuous dissemination of false information, with the aim of irreparably polluting the political debate around election programmes and making it difficult for voters to access correct information. One of the false rumours repeatedly conveyed by the authors of the secret pro-Jonathan campaign claims a non-existent proximity of Buhari to the terrorist formation Boko Haram.
An endless list
The American Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, expensive, antiquated and dangerous, but whose closure was avoided thanks to the initiatives of Team Jorge
In the course of other demonstrations via Zoom to undercover reporters, Hanan shows the hacked accounts of Celso Ismael Correia, who has been the Mozambican Minister of Agriculture since February 2020, as well as those of an Indonesian businessman, a Tanzanian citizen and Zhaxylyk Zharimbetov, a former official of the Kazakhstan bank BTA, who ended up under investigation in 2021 together with the former president and 51 other people in the British Virgin Islands on charges of $231 million offshore fraud against the BTA.
Many of Team Jorge’s clients have serious problems with the justice system. One example: without raising moral questions, the group works on behalf of Tomás Zerón, a former Mexican official who fled to Israel and is wanted by the Mexican justice system to answer for the following crimes: torture of people interrogated during the investigation of forty-three people who disappeared in 2014 on their way to anti-government protests, as well as tampering with evidence. Zerón, who at the time of the events is director of Mexico’s Criminal Investigation Agency, is also accused of orchestrating the kidnapping itself. It is highly unlikely at the moment that Israel will grant extradition. Hanan, through his avatar network, highlights Zerón’s role in the capture of drug lord Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán, branding the accusations against him as pure political manipulation.
The list of special clients continues: William and Roberto Isaias are two prominent Ecuadorean businessmen, convicted in their home country in 2012 for embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars from their credit institution, Filanbanco. The two reside in the USA, which does not extradite them to Quito. Accused of having contributed to the destruction of the Ecuadorian economy, the Isaias brothers avail themselves of the services of Team Jorge, which portrays the trial and conviction against them as a political persecution orchestrated by former President Rafael Correa. Rafael Noriega is said to have contributed to this campaign by writing two articles in favour of the bankers (and against President Correa) on the website of the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think-tank.
Another example: Diablo Canyon is the name of a Californian nuclear power plant that will run out of steam in 2025; the state’s governor, Democrat Gavin Newsom, publicly expresses his doubts about the idea of extending the plant’s life beyond the legal deadline, for reasons related to safety and the huge expenses involved. Newsom pushes, tying in with the ambitions of the Democratic Party at the national level, for an accelerated transition to renewable forms of energy supply free of dangerous operational waste. Team Jorge wages a social campaign against the governor, which only ceases when Newsom, in September 2022, signs the renewal of the plant’s operating licence.
Tal Hanan reveals to undercover journalists that he used the account of the Trinidad and Tobago government’s chief of staff, at the time when it was led by Kamla Persad-Bissessar (2010-2015), for the purpose of fomenting a political crisis. In the Venezuelan general elections of 2012, Team Jorge circulated, with the aim of influencing the outcome of the contest, documents from the staff of the (then winning) candidate Hugo Chávez after editing them; these documents were also published by ABC.
Rachid M’Barki, well-known French TV talk-master, paid by Team Jorge to spread fake news
Hanan shows reporters a report recently broadcast on the French channel BFMTV, in which French journalist Rachid M’Barki claims that US sanctions against the Russian oligarchs would lead to the unemployment of tens of thousands of people due to a slowdown in the activity of the shipyards that manage the oligarchs’ yachts in Monaco: it is a news report of dubious reliability, like others that M’Barki reads on the news in the second half of 2022, broadcast without the consent of the editorial staff. While showing the images of the report, Hanan declares to the reporters that he is able to have French media reports published.
This episode triggered an internal investigation that led to M’Barki’s suspension in January 2023. The other fake reports he published concerned: a leafleting campaign in Paris accusing a former Qatari state prosecutor of corruption; a Sudanese general considering running for president; a fair in the disputed territory of Western Sahara, which is purposely called Moroccan Sahara in the report. These reports, broadcast late at night, do not have a large circulation per se, but gain prominence after being taken up on social media by the avatars of Team Jorge, which uses those reports, from a traditional medium, to increase the credibility of its web campaigns. In the latest case, M’Barki’s lies were part of a social campaign with the hashtag #PolisarioCrime, in which he alleged links between the Polisario Front in Western Sahara, Hezbollah and Iran.
The Finnish-Canadian fashion magnate Peter Nygård is currently facing trials in Canada and the United States, in which he has to answer to charges of human trafficking and rape, detailed in several indictments against him: he allegedly recruited and retained several women, who were hired as sex slaves for him and his accomplices; these women often came from economically and socially difficult situations, sometimes even having histories of abuse behind them. Tal Hanan is said to have initiated the investigations after coming into possession of a non-disclosure agreement in which Nygård paid $100,000 to a 16-year-old girl in exchange for her silence about alleged sexual abuse; in parallel, his army of avatars is conducting a social campaign against Oprah Winfrey, guilty of having interviewed Nygård, the real target of the whole operation.
The list of criminal acts committed by Tal Hanan is truly interminable: in an excess of vanity, he took responsibility for a DDoS (Denial of service attack), the aim of which was to disrupt (unsuccessfully) the 2014 referendum on Catalan independence. A similar attack was carried out by Russian hackers against Italian government sites on 23 February 2023. On the other side of the planet, Team Jorge offers documents obtained by hacking the email account of the former prime minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Timothy Harris.
Hanan promotes, in 2020, the activities of Alexander Zingman, a businessman close to Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko. In March 2021, Zingman, honorary consul of Zimbabwe, was arrested and later released in Congo, together with Belarusian Oleg Vodchits and Italian businessman Paolo Persico, on charges of arms trafficking. Zingman and Sergei Sheiman, who is also in contact with Lukashenko, own shell companies with which to hide lucrative gold mining deals with the Zimbabwean state mining company. Team Jorge’s campaign in favour of Zingman targets rival Vitaly Fishman, who wins a libel suit in the US.
The top of Team Jorge: Tal Hanan, Mashi Meidan and Zohar Hanan
The CEO of Team Jorge, Zohar Hanan, brother of Tal, known as Nick, is officially a polygraph expert with a background in the Israeli company Sensority Ltd, now acquired by Pangea IT. Sensority sells technology that can detect a subject’s state of psychological stress. Tal Hanan claims to have orchestrated lobbying operations in the US through companies and consultants already registered in the country; he recently founded the company Axiomatics in order to promote Team Jorge within existing lobbying groups.
One of his partners is 63-year-old Mashy Meidan, a well-known figure in Israeli business intelligence; he formerly worked with the Israeli internal security service Shabak (like Team Jorge member Shuki Friedman); his code name in Team Jorge is Max. Meidan is the first contact used by journalists in their approach to the group. The network of mediators used to get to Hanan includes Yaakov Tzedek, a digital entrepreneur and co-founder of the Israeli real estate company Proptech Investments; Ishay Shechter, who also appeared in Zoom meetings with reporters, is strategy director at Goren Amir Consultants, a major Israeli lobbying firm.
The construction of disinformation knows no boundaries or moral barriers; it is money that determines whether a job is accepted or rejected. Yet there are three exceptions, according to Zohar ‘Nick’ Hanan: Team Jorge does not accept jobs on Israeli territory (he states, with great delicacy: ‘We don’t want to shit where we sleep!’), assignments involving US parties (the team claims to have turned down an assignment to help elect former president Donald Trump) and, as Nick himself says: ‘Never against Mr Putin’.
Journalistic investigation, unfortunately, is not a criminal investigation. On the contrary, it may even turn out to be a kind of publicity stunt for Tal Hanan and his partners. The vast majority of the world’s population is still not at all aware of what is happening – but, at the same time, accepts the fruits of social manipulation as fact. It is a truly frightening dystopian image, worthy of the writings of George Orwell and films about technological dictatorships like ‘Brazil’. We, in our own small way, can only continue to recount its misdeeds.
 https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jun/16/labour-mp-jo-cox-shot-in-west-yorkshire ; https://web.archive.org/web/20160616203516/http://news.sky.com/story/1713039/mp-jo-cox-killed-in-appalling-street-attack ; https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/nov/23/thomas-mair-slow-burning-hatred-led-to-jo-cox-murder
 https://www.france24.com/en/africa/20220822-kenya-s-odinga-files-court-petition-against-presidential-election-outcome ; https://www.bbc.com/news/62724762 ; https://edition.cnn.com/2022/08/22/africa/odinga-challenges-kenya-elections-results-intl/index.html
 https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/security-aviation/2022-11-16/ty-article-static-ext/the-israelis-destabilizing-democracy-and-disrupting-elections-worldwide/00000186-461e-d80f-abff-6e9e08b10000 ; https://www.offshorealert.com/tag/zhaksylyk-zharimbetov/
 https://www.aei.org/articles/ecuadors-decision-to-grant-assange-asylum-is-a-bold-act-of-hypocrisy/ ; https://www.aei.org/articles/expulsion-of-u-s-envoy-in-ecuador-kicks-off-correas-authoritarian-offensive/