Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia were in a long list of countries the CIA spied on using encryption company for 50 years, in a case that came to be known as the century’s intelligence coup, the Washington Post reported.
Over half a century, from the 1970s on, governments and their intelligence security agencies across the globe used encryption devices made by Swiss company Crypto AG, which was secretly owned by the CIA in a highly classified partnership with West German intelligence.
“These spy agencies rigged the company’s devices so they could easily break the codes that countries used to send encrypted messages,” the US paper said.
The news was laid bare in a classified, comprehensive CIA history of the operation obtained by The Washington Post and ZDF, a German public broadcaster, in a joint reporting project.
“It was the intelligence coup of the century,” the CIA report concludes.
The operation gave US intelligence vital information on Iran’s mullahs during the 1979 hostage crisis, fed intelligence about Argentina’s military to Britain during the Faulklands War, tracked the assassination campaigns of South American dictators, and caught Libyan officials congratulating themselves on the 1986 bombing of a Berlin disco.
However, the program had limits since America’s main adversaries, including the Soviet Union and China, were never Crypto customers, the media noted.