The revelations of NSO product abuse led the company to hire a group of outside consultants in 2108 to provide advice on which new customers NSO should take and which to avoid. The group included Daniel Shapiro, the former Obama administration ambassador to Israel, and Beacon Global Strategies, a Washington-based strategic consulting firm.
Beacon is led by Jeremy Bash, a former CIA and Pentagon chief of staff; Michael Allen, former personnel director of the House Intelligence Committee; and Andrew Shapiro, a former senior State Department official.
While the group’s mandate was to examine potential new clients, the international outrage over the murder of Mr Khashoggi in October 2018 led the group to advise NSO to cancel its Saudi contracts and shut down the security systems. NSO in the kingdom.
Separately, NSO conducted an internal investigation to determine whether any of its tools had been used by Saudi officials for the Khashoggi operation and concluded that was not the case. However, a lawsuit against NSO by a friend of Mr Khashoggi’s claims his phone was hacked by Saudi Arabia using Pegasus, and this hack gave Saudi officials access to his conversations with Mr Khashoggi. , including communications on opposition projects.
For several days in late 2018, executives from NSO and the then-owned private equity firm Francisco Partners met in Washington with the advisory group.
According to several people familiar with the meetings, NSO executives argued that the Israeli government strongly encourages the company to weather the storm and continue its work in Saudi Arabia. They also said Israeli officials told them that the Trump administration also wanted NSO’s work with Saudi Arabia to continue.
Eventually, NSO management followed the advice of the outside group and canceled contracts with Saudi Arabia at the end of 2018. Mr. Shapiro, the former ambassador to Israel, ended his work for the company shortly. after.