Police seize on COVID-19 tech to expand global surveillance
GARANCE BURKE, JOSEF FEDERMAN, HUIZHONG WU, KRUTIKA PATHI and ROD McGUIRK
Tue, December 20, 2022 at 12:26 AM EST AP
JERUSALEM (AP) — Majd Ramlawi was serving coffee in Jerusalem’s Old City when a chilling text message appeared on his phone.
“You have been spotted as having participated in acts of violence in the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” it read in Arabic. “We will hold you accountable.”
Ramlawi, then 19, was among hundreds of people who civil rights attorneys estimate got the text last year, at the height of one of the most turbulent recent periods in the Holy Land. Many, including Ramlawi, say they only lived or worked in the neighborhood, and had nothing to do with the unrest. What he didn’t know was that the feared internal security agency, the Shin Bet, was using mass surveillance technology mobilized for coronavirus contact tracing, against Israeli residents and citizens for purposes entirely unrelated to COVID-19.
In the pandemic’s bewildering early days, millions worldwide believed government officials who said they needed confidential data for new tech tools that could help stop coronavirus’ spread. In return, governments got a firehose of individuals’ private health details, photographs that captured their facial measurements and their home addresses.
Now, from Beijing to Jerusalem to Hyderabad, India, and Perth, Australia, The Associated Press has found that authorities used these technologies and data to halt travel for activists and ordinary people, harass marginalized communities and link people’s health information to other surveillance and law enforcement tools. In some cases, data was shared with spy agencies. The issue has taken on fresh urgency almost three years into the pandemic as China’s ultra-strict zero-COVID policies recently ignited the sharpest public rebuke of the country’s authoritarian leadership since the pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
For more than a year, AP journalists interviewed sources and pored over thousands of documents to trace how technologies marketed to “flatten the curve” were put to other uses. Just as the balance between privacy and national security shifted after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, COVID-19 has given officials justification to embed tracking tools in society that have lasted long after lockdowns.
“Any intervention that increases state power to monitor individuals has a long tail and is a ratcheting system,” said John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the Toronto-based internet watchdog Citizen Lab. “Once you get it, is very unlikely it will ever go away.”
In China, the last major country in the world to enforce strict COVID-19 lockdowns, citizens have been required to install cell-phone apps to move about freely in most cities. Drawing from telecommunications data and PCR test results, the apps produce individual QR codes that change from green to yellow or red, depending on a person’s health status.
The apps and lockdowns are part of China’s sweeping pandemic prevention policies that have pushed the public to a breaking point. When an apartment fire in Urumqi last month left at least 10 dead, many blamed zero-tolerance COVID policies. That sparked demonstrations in major cities nationwide, the largest display of defiance in decades, after which the government announced it would only check health codes in “special places,” such as schools, hospitals and nursing homes.
Last week, the government went further, saying it would shut down a national-level health code to ease travel between provinces. But cities and provinces have their own codes, which have been more dominant. In Beijing last week, restaurants, offices, hotels and gyms were still requiring local codes for entry.
Over the past few years, Chinese citizens have needed a green code to board domestic flights or trains, and in some cities even to enter the supermarket or to get on a bus. If they were found to have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, or if the government imposed a local quarantine, the code would turn red, and they were stuck at home.
There’s evidence that the health codes have been used to stifle dissent.
This story, supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, is part of an ongoing Associated Press series, “Tracked,” that investigates the power and consequences of decisions driven by algorithms on people’s everyday lives.
In early September, former wealth manager Yang Jiahao bought a train ticket to Beijing, where he planned to lodge various complaints with the central government. The night before, a woman he described as a handler invited him to dinner. Handlers are usually hired by state security as part of “stability maintenance” operations and can require people to meet or travel when authorities worry they could cause trouble. Yang had a meal with the handler, and the next morning Guangzhou health authorities reported a COVID-19 case less than a kilometer from where they dined, he said.
Based on city regulations, Yang’s code should have turned yellow, requiring him to take a few COVID tests to show he was negative.
Instead, the app turned red, even though tests showed that he didn’t have COVID. Yang was ordered to quarantine and a paper seal was placed on his door.
“They can do whatever they want,” he said.
An officer at the Huangcun station of the Guangzhou police referred comment to city-level authorities on Yang’s case, saying he required proof that the caller was from the AP. Guangzhou’s Public Security Bureau and the city’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention did not respond to faxed requests for comment.
In another show of how the apps can control lives, in June, a group of bank customers were effectively corralled by the health codes when they tried going to Henan’s provincial capital in Zhengzhou to protest being unable to access their online bank accounts.
A notice said the problem was due to a system upgrade. But the customers soon found out the real reason: a police investigation into stockholders in the parent bank had rendered 40 billion yuan in funds inaccessible, according to local media reports. Frustrated after months of complaints, a group of customers decided to hold a protest in Zhengzhou at the provincial banking commission.
Customer Xu Zhihao uploaded his itinerary to get the Henan province health code after he tested negative for COVID-19 in his coastal city of Tianjin, just south of Beijing. As he got off the train in Zhengzhou, Xu was asked to scan his QR code at the station, and immediately it turned red. The train station employee called security and took him to a police booth.
Xu said police took him to the basement to quarantine. Three other people joined him, and all four realized that they had come to get their money back.
“They had set the net in place, waiting for us,” Xu said.
From a group chat, Xu and others learned that many protesters had met a similar fate, at the high-speed rail train station, at the airport and even on the highway. A government inquiry later found that red codes were given to 1,317 people, many of whom had planned to protest.
China’s National Health Commission, which has led the COVID response, did not reply to a fax requesting comment. The Henan provincial government did not respond either.
Even after China ends lockdowns, some dissidents and human rights activists predict the local-level health codes will stay on as a technological means of social control. Early on, provinces didn’t share data, but in the past few years, that has changed.
Some provincial governments have created local apps that can link health, location and even credit information, which leaves open the possibility for these apps or the national databases they draw from to be used to monitor people in the future, according to an AP review of procurement documents, research and interviews. Xu and Yang, for instance, were both stopped in their tracks by local health codes.
In February, police in northeastern Heilongjiang province sought to upgrade their local health code so they could search PCR test results for anyone in China, in real time, according to procurement documents provided exclusively by ChinaFile, a digital magazine published by the Asia Society. A company whose parent is government-owned won the non-competitive bid to connect that app to a national database of PCR data run by the State Council, China’s Cabinet, fulfilling a national directive, the documents show. The same company, Beijing Beiming Digital Technology, also claims on its website that it has developed more than 30 pandemic apps.
“It’s the governance model, the philosophy behind it is to strengthen social control through technology. It’s strengthened by the health app, and it’s definitely going to stay after COVID is over,” said Yaqiu Wang, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch. “I think it’s very, very powerful.”
“THERE ARE TWO SETS OF LAWS”
In Jerusalem’s Old City, tourists sipping fresh pomegranate juice, worshippers and locals taking a shortcut home are all monitored by Israeli security forces holding automatic weapons. The labyrinth of cavernous pathways is also lined with CCTV cameras and what authorities have described as “advanced technologies.”
After clashes in May 2021 at the Al-Aqsa Mosque helped trigger an 11-day war with Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, Israel experienced some of the worst violence in years. Police lobbed stun grenades into the disputed compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount, home to Al-Aqsa, Islam’s third-holiest site, as Palestinian crowds holed up inside hurling stones and firebombs at them.
By that time, Israelis had become accustomed to police showing up outside their homes to say they weren’t observing quarantine and knew that Israel’s Shin Bet security agency was repurposing phone surveillance technology it had previously used to monitor militants inside Palestinian territories. The practice made headlines at the start of the pandemic when the Israeli government said it would be deployed for COVID-19 contact tracing.
A year later, the Shin Bet quietly began using the same technology to send threatening messages to Israel’s Arab citizens and residents whom the agency suspected of participating in violent clashes with police. Some of the recipients, however, simply lived or worked in the area, or were mere passers-by.
Ramlawi’s coffeeshop sits in the ornate Cotton Merchant’s Market outside the mosque compound, an area lined with police and security cameras that likely would have identified the barista had he participated in violence.
Although Ramlawi deleted the message and hasn’t received a similar one since, he said the thought of his phone being used as a monitoring tool still haunts him.
“It’s like the government is in your bag,” said Ramlawi, who worries that surveillance enabled to stop COVID-19 poses a lasting menace for east Jerusalem residents. “When you move, the government is with you with this phone.”
The Shin Bet’s domestic use of the technology has generated an uproar over privacy and civil liberties within Israel, as well as questions about its accuracy. The Ministry of Communications, which oversees Israel’s telecommunications companies, refused a request seeking further details submitted for the AP by the Movement for Freedom of Information, a nonprofit that frequently works with media organizations.
Gil Gan-Mor, an attorney with the nonprofit Association for Civil Rights in Israel, estimates that hundreds of Arabs in Jerusalem received the threatening message during the unrest and said the mass text message blast was unprecedented.
“You cannot just say to people, ‘We are watching you … and we will get revenge,” he said. “You cannot use this tool to frighten people. If you have something against someone, you can put them on trial.’”
After Gan-Mor’s organization sued, Shin Bet made no apologies.
“There was a clear security need to send an urgent message to a very large number of people, all of whom had a credible suspicion of being involved in performing violent crimes,” the agency said in a legal filing last year. The filing, signed by “Daniella B.,” the Shin Bet’s legal adviser for the Jerusalem district, also acknowledged that “lessons were learned.”
In February, Israel’s attorney general upheld the continued use of the technology, saying it was a legitimate security tool, while acknowledging glitches in the system and that messages were distributed to a small number of unintended targets. Israel’s Supreme Court is now reviewing the matter.
Sami Abu Shehadeh, a former Arab lawmaker who served in Israel’s parliament at the time Shin Bet sent its warning texts, said the messages demonstrate the broader struggles of Israel’s 20% Arab minority.
“The state does not deal with us as citizens,” he said. “There are two sets of laws — one for Jews and one for Arabs.”
‘360 DEGREE SURVEILLANCE’
Technologies designed to combat COVID-19 were redirected by law enforcement and intelligence services in other democracies as governments expanded their digital arsenals amid the pandemic.
In India, facial recognition and artificial intelligence technology exploded after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party swept into power in 2014, becoming a tool for police to monitor mass gatherings. The country is seeking to build what will be among the world’s largest facial recognition networks.
As the pandemic took hold in early 2020, state and central governments tasked local police with enforcing mask mandates. Fines of up to $25, as much as 12 days’ pay for some laborers and unaffordable for the nearly 230 million people estimated to be living in poverty in India, were introduced in some places.
In the south-central city of Hyderabad, police started taking pictures of people flaunting the mask mandate or simply wearing masks haphazardly.
Police Commissioner C.V. Anand said the city has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years on patrol vehicles, CCTV cameras, facial recognition and geo-tracking applications and several hundred facial recognition cameras, among other technologies powered by algorithms or machine learning. Inside Hyderabad’s Command and Control Center, officers showed an AP reporter how they run CCTV camera footage through facial recognition software that scans images against a database of offenders.
“When (companies) decide to invest in a city, they first look at the law-and-order situation,” Anand said, defending the use of such tools as absolutely necessary. “People here are aware of what the technologies can do, and there is wholesome support for it.”
By May 2020, the police chief of Telangana state tweeted about his department rolling out AI-based software using CCTV to zero-in on people not wearing masks. The tweet included photos of the software overlaying colored rectangles on the maskless faces of unsuspecting locals.
More than a year later, police tweeted images of themselves using hand-held tablets to scan people’s faces using facial recognition software, according to a post from the official Twitter handle of the station house officer in the Amberpet neighborhood.
Police said the tablets, which can take ordinary photographs or link them to a facial recognition database of criminals, were a useful way for officers to catch and fine mask offenders.
“When they see someone not wearing a mask, they go up to them, take a photo on their tablet, take down their details like phone number and name,” said B Guru Naidu, an inspector in Hyderabad’s South Zone.
Officers decide who they deem suspicious, stoking fears among privacy advocates, some Muslims and members of Hyderabad’s lower-caste communities.
“If the patrolling officers suspect any person, they take their fingerprints or scan their face – the app on the tablet will then check these for any past criminal antecedents,” Naidu said.
S Q Masood, a social activist who has led government transparency campaigns in Hyderabad, sees more at stake. Masood and his father-in-law were seemingly stopped at random by police in Shahran market, a predominantly Muslim area, during a COVID-19 surge last year. Masood said officers told him to remove his mask so they could photograph him with a tablet.
“I told them I won’t remove my mask. They then asked me why not, and I told them I will not remove my mask.” He said they photographed him with it in place. Back home, Masood went from bewildered to anxious: Where and how was this photo to be used? Would it be added to the police’s facial recognition database?
Now he’s suing in the Telangana High Court to find out why his photo was taken and to limit the widespread use of facial recognition. His case could set the tone for India’s growing ambition to combine emerging technology with law enforcement in the world’s largest democracy, experts said.
India lacks a data protection law and even existing proposals won’t regulate surveillance technologies if they become law, said Apar Gupta, executive director of the New Delhi-based Internet Freedom Foundation, which is helping to represent Masood.
Police responded to Masood’s lawsuit and denied using facial recognition in his case, saying that his photograph was not scanned against any database and that facial recognition is only used during the investigation of a crime or suspected crime, when it can be run against CCTV footage.
In two separate AP interviews, local police demonstrated both how the TSCOP app carried by police on the street can compare a person’s photograph to a facial recognition database of criminals, and how from the Command and Control Center police can use facial recognition analysis to compare stored mugshots of criminals to video gathered from CCTV cameras.
Masood’s lawyers are working on a response and awaiting a hearing date.
Privacy advocates in India believe that such stepped-up actions under the pandemic could enable what they call 360 degree surveillance, under which things like housing, welfare, health and other kinds of data are all linked together to create a profile.
“Surveillance today is being posed as a technological panacea to large social problems in India, which has brought us very close to China,” Gupta said. “There is no law. There are no safeguards. And this is general purpose deployment of mass surveillance.”
‘THE NEW NORMAL’
What use will ultimately be made of the data collected and tools developed during the height of the pandemic remains an open question. But recent uses in Australia and the United States may offer a glimpse.
During two years of strict border controls, Australia’s conservative former Prime Minister Scott Morrison took the extraordinary step of appointing himself minister of five departments, including the Department of Health. Authorities introduced both national and state-level apps to notify people when they had been in the vicinity of someone who tested positive for the virus.
But the apps were also used in other ways. Australia’s intelligence agencies were caught “incidentally” collecting data from the national COVIDSafe app. News of the breach surfaced in a November 2020 report by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, which said there was no evidence that the data was decrypted, accessed or used. The national app was canceled in August by a new administration as a waste of money: it had identified only two positive COVID-19 cases that wouldn’t have been found otherwise.
At the local level, people used apps to tap their phones against a site’s QR code, logging their individual ID so that if a COVID-19 outbreak occurred, they could be contacted. The data sometimes was used for other purposes. Australian law enforcement co-opted the state-level QR check-in data as a sort of electronic dragnet to investigate crimes.
After biker gang boss Nick Martin was shot and killed at a speedway in Perth, police accessed QR code check-in data from the health apps of 2,439 drag racing fans who attended the December 2020 race. It included names, phone numbers and arrival times.
Police accessed the information despite Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan’s promise on Facebook that the COVID-related data would only be accessible to contact-tracing personnel at the Department of Health. The murder was eventually solved using entirely traditional policing tactics, including footprint matching, cellphone tracking and ultimately a confession.
Western Australia police didn’t respond to requests for comment. Queensland and Victoria law enforcement also sought the public’s QR check-in data in connection with investigations. Police in both states did not address AP questions regarding why they sought the data, and lawmakers in Queensland and Victoria have since tightened the rules on police access to QR check-in information.
In the U.S., which relied on a hodge-podge of state and local quarantine orders to ensure compliance with COVID rules, the federal government took the opportunity to build out its surveillance toolkit, including two contracts in 2020 worth $24.9 million to the data mining and surveillance company Palantir Technologies Inc. to support the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ pandemic response. Documents obtained by the immigrant rights group Just Futures Law under the Freedom of Information Act and shared with the AP showed that federal officials contemplated how to share data that went far beyond COVID-19.
The possibilities included integrating “identifiable patient data,” such as mental health, substance use and behavioral health information from group homes, shelters, jails, detox facilities and schools. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control does not use any of that individual-level information in the platform CDC now manages, said Kevin Griffis, a department spokesman. Griffis said he could not comment on discussions that occurred under the previous administration.
The protocols appeared to lack information safeguards or usage restrictions, said Paromita Shah, Just Futures Law’s executive director.
“What the pandemic did was blow up an industry of mass collection of biometric and biographical data,” Shah said. “So, few things were off the table.”
Last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control purchased detailed cellphone location data revealing people’s daily whereabouts, nationwide. “Mobility insights” data from at least 20 million devices could be used to “project how much worse things would have been without the bans,” such as stay-at-home orders and business closures, according to a July 2021 contract obtained by the nonprofit group Tech Inquiry and shared with the AP.
The contract shows data broker Cuebiq provided a “device ID,” which typically ties information to individual cell phones. The CDC also could use the information to examine the effect of closing borders, an emergency measure ordered by the Trump administration and continued by President Joe Biden, despite top scientists’ objections that there was no evidence the action would slow the coronavirus.
CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said the agency acquired aggregated, anonymous data with extensive privacy protections for public health research, but did not address questions about whether the agency was still using the data. The CDC could still access aggregate, county-level mobile phone data through October, several months after its contract ended, Cuebiq spokesman Bill Daddi said on Tuesday. He added that before then, the CDC also could have analyzed privacy-protected individual mobile phone data, but chose not to.
For Scott-Railton, that sets a dangerous precedent.
“What COVID did was accelerate state use of these tools and that data and normalize it, so it fit a narrative about there being a public benefit,” he said. “Now the question is, are we going to be capable of having a reckoning around the use of this data, or is this the new normal?”
Former AP video journalist Rishabh R. Jain contributed to this report from Hyderabad, India. AP staffers Lori Hinnant contributed from Paris; María Verza from Mexico City; Astrid Suárez from Bogotá, Colombia; Edna Tarigan from Jakarta, Indonesia; Tong-hyung Kim from Seoul, South Korea; and Eileen Ng from Singapore. Daria Litvinova and retired Associated Press Afghanistan and Pakistan Bureau Chief Kathy Gannon also contributed. Deputy Editor of The Mail & Guardian Athandiwe Saba assisted from Johannesburg. Burke reported from San Francisco; Federman from Jerusalem; McGuirk from Canberra, Australia; Pathi from Hyderabad, India; and Wu from Taipei, Taiwan.
This reporting was produced in collaboration with researcher Avani Yadav with support from the Human Rights Center Investigations Lab at the University of California, Berkeley. It was partially supported by the Starling Lab for Digital Integrity, co-founded by the University of Southern California and Stanford University, where Burke was a journalism fellow.
‘7’ Paul Rolland, Night Watchman, Night Watchman Ministries;
Five (5) -fold World Systems Satanically Controlled:
Economic system. (Buy, sell, merchants, trade, mark, name, number). (18X). (Rev. 13:16, 13:17, 14:9, 14:11, 15:2, 16:2, 18:3, 18:7, 18:9, 18:11, 18:12, 18:13, 18:14, 18:15, 18:17, 18:19, 18:22, 18:23).
Communication system. (Nations shall see, in the sight of men, saying to them that dwell on earth). (15X). (Rev. 11:9, 11:10, 11:11, 11:12, 13:3, 13:4, 13:5, 13:6, 13:12, 13:13, 13:14, 13:15, 13:16, 13:17, 17:8).
Political system. (Kingdom, seat, authority, kings, power over nations). (12X). (Rev. 13:1, 13:2, 13:7, 16:10, 16:14, 17:3, 17:7, 17:12, 17:13, 17:16, 17:17, 17:18).
Military system. (Power, make war). (15X).(Rev. 6:2, 6:4, 10:16, 10:18, 10:19, 13:2, 13:7, 13:15, 16:14, 16:16, 17:12, 17:13, 17:14, 19:18, 19:19).
Religious system. (Mystery Religion Babylon). (24X). (Rev. 9:20, 9:21, 13:4, 13:8, 13:11, 13:12, 13:14, 13:15, 14:8, 14:9, 14:11, 16:2, 17:1, 17:2, 17:4, 17:5, 17:15, 17:16, 18:3, 18:4, 18:5, 18:9, 19:2, 19:20).
Commentary: Babylon System is the beast’s/antichrist’s kingdom of power and control on earth during the Tribulation. It is the Beast / Antichrist’s political and military systems. It is an economic and communication system. It is the name of a physical city believed to be the capital of this kingdom. Lastly, it is a false, blasphemous religious and worship system (Mystery Religion Babylon). Satan controls and manipulates all these global systems, through his beast/antichrist and the false prophet. The number of references for each of these systems CONFIRMS his influence on these systems.
Economic System (18 references). 6+6+6=18. Six is the evil number of man, the beast and the false prophet. The economic system is man’s ultimate evil because he has to completely prostitute himself (spiritually) to the beast in order to participate in this system through taking the name, mark or number of the beast. 3×6=18. Three (3) denotes God’s intensity and emphasis, Six (6) denotes the evil number of man (mankind, beast, false prophet).
Communication System (15 references). 5+5+5=15. Control and manipulation of the world’s communications systems is under the influence of Satan, via the beast. Five (5) being the number of Satan and his influence in the world. 3×5=15. Three (3) denotes God’s intensity and emphasis. Satan controls the world’s communications systems so he can worshipped worldwide indirectly and eventually directly, through the beast.
Political System (12 references). 2×6=12. Two (2) denotes God’s solid confirmation of a matter. Six (6) is the evil number of man. Twelve (12) denotes God’s divinely constituted organization either in heaven or earth. Remember, even though the beast’s political system is evil, God is in control and allows this political system to exist for a limited time. The Bible is very clear about God’s desire to influence and orchestrate the development of this political system in Revelation 17:17, “For God hath put in their hearts to fulfill his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.”
Military System (15 references). 5+5+5=15. Control and manipulation of the world’s military systems are under the influence of Satan, via the beast. Five (5) being the number of Satan and his influence in the world. 3×5=15. Three (3) denotes God’s intensity and emphasis. Revelation 13, 14 and 16 indicate that an unclean spirit is spewed forth by the dragon (and beast and false prophet) to go out into the world to motivate kings and their armies to arrive at Armageddon in order to do battle on the Great Day of the Lord.
Religious System (24 references). Ultimately, it is the whore (Mystery Religion Babylon) who causes religious/spiritual fornication among everyone on earth. This is the most evil of all five (5) worldwide systems influenced by Satan. He does everything in his power to shield or hide the truth about the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. He wants to destroy all men, and send them to hell and the lake of fire. He wants to blaspheme God. He wants the world to worship only him. He wants to world think he is equal to God. All of these satanic goals are manifest in Mystery Religion Babylon. The other four world systems (economic, communication, political and military) just serve a means to an end. The end culminating in the direct (false) worship of Satan. The religious system of Babylon receives the most references by the world of God through His Holy Spirit. 2×12=24. Two (2) signifying God’s solid confirmation of a matter and twelve (12) denoting God’s divinely constituted organization either in heaven or on earth. Another way to think of twenty-four (24) is 4×6=24. Four (4) denoting God’s foursquareness of balance and symmetry, and of intelligent design multiplied by six (6) the evil number of man (mankind, beast, false prophet). Once again, God is in control and only lets this evil religious system exist only for a divinely determined time and purpose.
WHO is the ‘Beast’ that rides a ‘WHITE ARABIAN STALLION’ During the Beginning of the 7 Year Tribulation?
Revelation 6:2 And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
Commentary; the rider is the ‘beast’ or ‘antichrist’. His being clothed in white suggests ‘3’ false righteousness, false peace and false authority. He has a bow, but no arrows. He rules with lies and threats, but no military or arms. He conquers and subjugates, not with force but with ‘5’ lies, deception, false covenants and false agreements and false promises. He is the world’s greatest ‘political’ leader and deceiver. He is the one who ‘confirms the false covenant of seven years with Jacob’ which starts the tribulation. You should know now of who I speak. His ‘crown’ represents authority, rulership and position. It even literally represents his ‘position’ as Crown Prince, once the tribulation begins. My discernment is that the ‘white horse upon which he sits’ is symbolically a white Arabian stallion.
‘7’ The ‘Stage’ for the Antichrist, ‘First Horseman’ is set.
America Divided and ‘7’ No Mention of It In The Bible. ‘7’ Western hegemony is coming to an end, and the world is ‘7’ about to enter a very dangerous period. For 500 Years, the world has ‘7’ been run from Europe or the US; (the US will withdraw): that’s about ‘7’ to change and nobody is sure what (5) its replacement will look like.
‘7’ The most dramatic and unique aspect of (5) the current state of affairs in ‘7’ international politics is that we cannot count ‘7’ on the ability of a single state, or ‘7’ a group of sufficiently powerful countries, to ‘7’ play a leadership role in the future. This means it is ‘7’ difficult for us to imagine ‘WHO WILL’ ‘7’ be able to force states to comply with the ‘7’ rules of conduct in their foreign policy, and ‘7’ how such strictures can even be enforced.
The Antichrist; ‘A King of Dark Sentences’ (political language, false agreements, deceiving covenants, lies, back-room dealing, deception, intrigue, announcements and deceiving doctrines and programs.)
23 “ And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.
24 And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.
25 And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.” (Daniel 8:23-25)
Revelation 13:7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and POWER was ‘GIVEN’ him (Prince, Beast, Antichrist) over ALL kindreds, and tongues, and NATIONS.
The One World Government Leader Has Power OVER ALL THE NATIONS of the EARTH.
WHO is the Abraham Accords ‘Confirmer,’ the BEAST, the Eighth (8th) King, the ‘ONE-WORLD GOVERNMENT LEADER’, the FIRST RIDER OF THE APOCALYPSE who goes to Perdition (Utter Destruction), The LAST CAESAR, PHARAOH or ANTICHRIST?
And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshipped the dragon [Satan, Allah, Prince of the Power of the Air] which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast [Antichrist, Man-by-Satan ‘MbS’], saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? (Emphasis mine. Discernment mine.)
Five (5) references to ‘beast.’ 5 denotes satanic influence over evil men.
Jesus Identified the Sign of the Antichrist: He is NOT Macron, Biden, Obama, Trump, Putin, Jinping, Gates, Pope Francis or Klaus Schwab. The ‘Beast’ has been identified NOW, and his role changes to the Antichrist 3.5 years into the Tribulation.
Revelation 17:8-11 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.
‘Seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.’ = NEOM Babylon sits on the seven (7) tallest mountains in the Midian Mountain range in the Tabuk region of Saudi Arabia. Tallest mountain is Mount Sinai. These mountains are scarlet and purple colored due to volcanic origin and related minerals deposited in rock. NEOM is a $500 (5) billion technological/hedonistic paradise. No mention or acceptance of Christ.
The seven and eight kings are in reference to the genetic lineage (bottomless pit of evil) of the House of Saud. These are ALL the modern kings since the foundation of modern Saudi Arabia.
Proof of the ‘line of’ of the 8 kings.
Kings of Saudi Arabia (1932–present)
1. King Ibn Saud. 9/22/1932 – 11/9/1953. Kingdom founded by conquest. Had six (6) sons that became Kings of the Kingdom. Six (6) is the number of evil man/men. The ground work for this kingdom was being created at the same time as the ground work for the State of Israel. Satan started establishing his ‘chosen people’ (those who worship the dragon and beast) at the same time God was re-establishing his ‘chosen people’ (the Jews) over the 1930’s to late 1940’s. 1 of the 5 ‘fallen/dead’ kings.
2. King Saud. 11/9/1953 – 11/2/1964. 2 of the 5 ‘fallen/dead’ kings.
3. King Faisal. 11/2/1964 – 3/25/1975. 3 of the 5 ‘fallen/dead’ kings.
4. King Khalid. 3/25/1975 – 6/13/1982. 4 of the 5 ‘fallen/dead’ kings.
5. King Fahd. 6/13/1982 – 8/1/2005. 5 of the 5 ‘fallen/dead’ kings.
6. King Abdullah. 8/1/2005 – 1/23/2015. The king ‘that is.’ This is the 6th king revealed by the Holy Spirit to John the Apostle. He is the signpost for the ‘season of the times’ of the latter days, prior to the tribulation. A sign for the evil Gentile nations.
7. King Salman. (King 2015 – ?). 1/23/2015- (2022) This is the 7th and ‘future’ king revealed to John the Apostle who will reign for a ‘short time or while’. If his reign lasts for 7 years, from 2015 on into 2022, it will truly reflect a short reign and denotes God’s divine completion to his plan or purpose for the seven kings, including the seventh king. King Salman is the LAST of the six (6) sons of Ibn Saud to be King of Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Is The De Facto King Amid Concerns Over Father’s Health
8. Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. He is the 8th and final ‘future’ king revealed to John the Apostle. He is the ‘beast’, comes from seven (7) kings/lineage before him and goes to perdition. His reign is over the seven (7) years of the tribulation. Born 1985, he will be 35 (7×5) years old in 2020. Seven (7) denotes God’s divine completion to His plan or purpose. Five (5) denotes Satanic influence of men and kings. God’s influence over men in greater than Satan’s influence over men 7>5. Notice that MBS will be the FIRST king who is NOT a direct son of founding King Ibn Saud in 1932. Becoming the 8th king, MBS represents a ‘new epoch’ a ‘new future’ for the kingdom that forms an ideological break from the past. Eight (8) denotes a new beginning, new timeline, new season, new plan. God is addressing the evil status quo of the House of Saud (bottomless pit of evil, wealth, influence, power, corruption) and ushering in the time of great wrath, the tribulation for Gentile nations. From a spiritual perspective, MBS not being one of the six (6) sons of the founding King Ibn Saud, now holds claim to being the son of perdition under the power and influence of the dragon (Satan). MBS has no allegiance to his family tree, tradition, other family princes and historical political protocol. Only an extremely evil, pathological soul manipulated by Satan would turn on his own family. In Satan’s plan, he used the ‘bottomless pit’ of evil House of Saud to raise MBS, the beast, the son of perdition to be in the positions he both currently and in future, will hold. Just as Jesus Christ had an earthly family tree and lineage, Satan used the House of Saud as the earthly family tree, lineage for his son of perdition, the beast, the coming Antichrist.
At the time John the Apostle was in the Holy Spirit and given a ‘vision’ of the future, 5 of the Saudi Kings were already dead (fallen). He was shown the sixth king, and told that a future 7th and 8th king were coming. The sixth king was a ‘sign post’ of the beginning of the ‘end times’ prior to the tribulation. The 7th King ‘short while’ in current King Salman, the last son of founder Saud. Mbs, Mohammed bin Salman is ‘Crown Prince’ and will become the 8th king (goes into perdition). MbS is the ‘Beast’ who rules during the seven (7) year tribulation and great tribulation (last 3.5 year period.) MbS (Beast now), becomes the Antichrist midway during the 7 year tribulation, at the occurrence known as the ‘Abomination of Desolation.’
King Salman brought his son, MBS into the kingdom’s political arena in 2015. 2015-2020 is also a 5 year period of Satanic influence on MBS, as he has grown in power and worldwide influence and stature among not only Western countries, but among ‘Kings of the East’, and those who worship the dragon and the beast throughout Middle East / North African countries (MENA – the ‘many’ Arabic and Islamic countries).
Mohammed bin Salman (named Crown Prince, June 2017). He is referred to scripturally as both a Prince and as a King. This is extremely unique and mentioned for a very real reason. He plays a prophetic role as Prince (when he confirms the false peace covenant among many nations throughout MENA regarding Israel and the Palestinians). Please consider that many, if not all, MENA countries are either Arabic and/or Muslim and are financially and politically beholden to Saudi Arabia in one form or another. Religiously, all these countries are beholden to the House of Saud, because it is the ‘custodian’ of Islam’s ‘holiest’ sites in Saudi Arabia. All Muslims must come for Hajj in Saudi Arabia at some point in their life, if capable (those who worship the dragon and the beast). Satanic influence is woven together and throughout ALL of these counties. They will agree to MBS’ confirmation of the covenant, as Crown Prince. They dare not come against the Crown Prince’s wish and confirmation. Thus, they will abide by his confirmation. They have every reason to accept his confirmation, because of their political, financial and religious vested interests with Saudi Arabia. ‘Who can make war or come against the Beast?’
MBS also plays a prophetic role as Saudi Arabia’s 8th King. This will likely occur before he enters the rebuilt Jewish 3rd Temple and causes the Abomination of Desolation (claims to be god and demands to be worshiped as such). Poor man wants to be rich, rich man wants to be prince, prince wants to be king, king wants to be god and rule everything. As such, MBS will likely be the Saudi’s 8th King once he sets foot in the rebuilt Jewish temple half way through the tribulation. After all, he is already the focus of ‘those who worship the dragon and the beast.’ He now wants the Jews to worship him along with the rest of the world (via the destruction of his previous accommodation and approval of the worshipping of the false mystery religions.) It’s not enough that Satan has deceived almost 2 billion Muslims. He now wants to be worshipped by the rest of the earth by Hindus, Buddhists, et.al. Satan destroys the false ‘mystery religion’ being propagated by the False Prophet, so he can be the only focus of mankind’s worship. These false religions served their satanic purpose by deceiving men and leading men away from Christ, now is time to throw these other false religions into the fire so men are forced to worship Satan, through MBS exclusively.
Hence, MBS’ role will have changed from beast/prince to king to Antichrist at this point. He is indwelt by Satan in order for Satan to satisfy his claim that he will rise to be like the true God and to be worshipped as such. As a spiritual entity, Satan can only possess and indwell a flesh and blood human man. Satan has done everything in his power to raise MBS up through the evil bottomless pit of the House of Saud, to become a Crown Prince, to become a King, and now that Satan has possessed him to become the world-wide Antichrist. At this point, MBS is completely under Satan’s authority and power and ensues to blaspheme God and Jesus Christ.
The timing of when MBS became Crown Prince is known (June 2017). When he becomes king is when his father succumbs the throne to MBS (this could be through death or a short political reign for one reason or another – health?). The actual timing is unimportant, all we are told is that the 7th king’s reign is for a ‘short time or while.’ His term could be 5, 6, 7 or 8 years.
Where else is there a family/political dynasty on earth that has had seven (7) consecutive kings that rule a country from the same genetic line? In the Middle East? During the time of Israel’s rebirth from a valley of dry bones to a budding fig tree? Saudi Arabia’s current 7th king and future 8th king fit the Biblical narratives set forth by the Word of God. 7th and 8th kings from the bottomless pit of evil, money, power, influence, corruption (5 Satanic influences). MBS is prince when he confirms the covenant. MBS becomes an Antichrist when he is worshiped as a mujaddid by Muslims, and then becomes the worldwide Antichrist when he is indwelt by Satan.
The timing of John the Apostle’s vision regarding the 8 Kings from the bottomless pit of the House of Saud – 5 ‘fallen’, 1 ‘is current’, 2 ‘are future’.
Why is this even a topic worth mentioning? What is the point? Is there a point? Yes, there is a point. And it is VERY important, from a prophetic viewpoint. In that, it is a ‘viewing point’ of the latter days, leading up to the tribulation. How so?
First, as Christians, we know that the Triune God gave John the Apostle a vision and knowledge of many things pertaining to the days leading up to and into the tribulation and after. The Holy Spirit carried him into the future, from his particular life in time, to witness things that he then explained in his Revelation of Jesus Christ. One of the visions he was given, while in the Holy Spirit, was of the 5 kings that were fallen, a 6th king he was being shown, and that of a 7th king who had not come (but would rule for a short while at some point in the future). Lastly, he was shown a future and last 8th king known and described as the Beast who would be sent to perdition, udder destruction, the lake of fire and brimstone, the second death … alive.
I have attempted to confirm who the 7th and 8th kings are from our point in space and time, relative to the ‘season of the times.’ What about this mysterious sixth king, the king ‘who is’. Why is this king important that John the Apostle was directly being shown? And what possible prophetic importance can he have? Of the 8 kings, why would God single out this particular man?
Consider that God, through the Holy Spirit, could have shown John any or all of the Kings in future ‘real time’. He was not permitted to see the 7th or 8th kings, but only the sixth. What perhaps was God’s reason for this?
The reign of 6th King Abdullah was from 2005 to 2015. This snapshot of time and space is important because it suggests that this time frame is important for us, for Gentiles alive in the final generation. To know that we are indeed in the ‘final season’ prior to our harpazo/rapture and the onset of the tribulation, without any doubt or hesitation. We know that Israel’s prophetic time clock began in 1948. God’s prophetic time clock for the tribulation of Gentile nations suggests that it started during the time of this sixth king. It is beyond the scope of this letter to go into details about what has occurred throughout the entire earth during the time of the sixth king’s reign. Many prophetic things started being revealed over the 5 year period from 2010 to 2015. The time of the sixth king’s reign is a sign post, a flashing light, a notice of when the final season begins and is upon the earth for Gentiles. God has given signs in scripture and the heavens for Jews, and Gentiles alike. The September 23, 2017 occurrence of the ‘great sign in heaven’ is an example of a sign for the Bride of Christ. The 6th Saudi king is a Gentile and a member of the House of Saud and the bottomless pit of evil. His reign (along with all the other past 5 kings and 2 future kings) has been orchestrated by Satan during the growth of this kingdom and the discovery of its bottomless wealth (oil). To a logical mind, clear and sober, this would indicate that God is saying that the age of grace for all Gentiles on earth is coming to a close. It is not important that we don’t know if God considers 2005 or 2015 to be the beginning of the ‘season of the time before the tribulation.’ Just as God spoke generically about the rebirth of Israel, as when you ‘see the fig tree bearing fruit’, he was referring to a time frame or process developing over time. In His divine plan, things develop and take time to grow until their divine timing is ripe to be revealed. Those who can discern can watch this occur, as it happens in ‘real time’ and understand appropriately and accordingly. As God gave a general timeline for Israel, commencing in 1948, he gives a Gentile timeline commencing in 2015. This of course is BEFORE the arrival of the future 7th and 8th kings who would indicate perhaps the middle and end of the ‘Fall Season’ or Season of the Times’ prior to the rapture/harpazo for the Bride and the onset of the tribulation.’
The 7 year period from 2015 to 2022 does indeed represent a 7 year period denoting God’s divine completion to his plan or purpose for the modern kingship lineage (line of) of Saudi Arabia. Time for the ‘Age of Grace’ has almost ended. As I write this letter, there is exactly only three (3) months remaining in 2019 before the world enters 2020 and a ‘new’ decade. Time is running out before the time begins of God’s great wrath on mankind and Gentile nations. We can know this with certainty by looking at the time frame witnessed by John the Apostle of the 6th king from the House of Saud. Six (6) denotes evil man/men. Seven (7) denotes God’s divine completion to his plan or purpose. Eight (8) denotes new era, new epoch, new season, new time span, new series of events. The 7th Saud King indicates that God is finished with Satan’s status quo in Saudi Arabia and of the evil Gentile world. The 8th Saud King indicates that God is ushering in a new time of tribulation and trial for mankind, Jews and Gentiles. Remember, the seven (7) year tribulation is also referred to as the ‘time or week of Jacob’s trouble.’ A week being seven (7) years and Jacob being a reference to Jews and Israel. God is turning his attention back onto Israel, the redemption of the Jews, wrath towards the Gentile world and arranging the coming Millennial Reign of Christ on Earth.
But how can they call on him (Jesus Christ) to save them unless they believe in him (Jesus Christ)? And how can they believe in him (Jesus Christ) if they have never heard about him (Jesus Christ)? And how can they hear about him (Jesus Christ) unless someone tells them?” —Romans 10:14
In His Service,
Night Watchman Ministries
Make Your Decision for Christ NOW!!!!!!! Time is Up!!!!!!!
Jesus Christ’s Offer of Salvation:
The ABCs of Salvation through Jesus Christ (the Lamb)
A. Admit/Acknowledge/Accept that you are sinner. Ask God’s forgiveness and repent of your sins.
. . . “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23).
. . . “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10).
. . . “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8).
B. Believe Jesus is Lord. Believe that Jesus Christ is who He claimed to be; that He was both fully God and fully man and that we are saved through His death, burial, and resurrection. Put your trust in Him as your only hope of salvation. Become a son or daughter of God by receiving Christ.
. . . “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:15-17). For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13).
C. Call upon His name, Confess with your heart and with your lips that Jesus is your Lord and Savior.
. . . “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10).
. . . “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (John 1:8-10).
. . . “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (John 2:2).
. . . “In this was manifested the love of god toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” (1 John 4:9, 14-15).
. . . “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:8-10).
. . . “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23).
. . . “Jesus saith unto them, I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6).
. . . “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.” (Romans 1:16).
. . . “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts: 4:12).
. . . “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth for there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:4-6).
. . . “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
. . . “But as many as received him, to them gave the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12).
True Church / Bride of Christ Spared from God’s Wrath:
Romans 5:8-10. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”
Romans 12:19. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 1:10. And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
1 Thessalonians 5:9. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
Romans 8:35. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Jeremiah 30:7. Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.
Revelation 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
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