IBM Egypt cleared in bugging investigation

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

TEL AVIV An Israeli military investigation has determined that an Egyptian-based company could not have inserted bugs in software employed in the joint U.S.-Israel Arrow-2 missile defense program.

Senior Israeli military sources said an investigation by the Israel Air Force in conjunction with the Defense Ministry determined that IBM Egypt, a software company based in Cairo, did not introduce any bugs or so-called trojan horses into software provided for the Arrow-2. The sources said the involvement of IBM Egypt was negligible although they said the ministry could decide to find another supplier, Middle East Newsline reported.

"No Israeli software was sent to IBM Egypt," a senior military source said. "IBM Egypt was used in development and revisions."

The sources said that for nearly two years IBM Egypt has provided Hebrew text software for systems operated by Israel's military. They said that so far there have been no reports of attempts to sabotage the software.

In late 2003, the Defense Ministry began a review of the role of IBM Egypt in the Arrow missile defense program. Israeli military personnel conducted tests on all of the software in the Arrow to determine whether it was corrupted.

The sources did not rule out a search for another supplier for the Hebrew text software required for Motif, the program that helps run the Arrow system. But they said no such decision has been taken.

The IBM Egyptian Technology Development Center in Cairo, known as IBM Egypt, is responsible for a small role in the development of the Motif software. The sources said the U.S.-based IBM chose its Cairo branch to develop the software for a small portion of the program that deals in Semitic languages.

Motif is a graphical user interface guideline and development tool kit employed in most Unix-based operating systems. Developed in 1989, Motif has become an IBM and industry standard for computer desktops and provides graphic user interface for such tasks as cut and paste, multi-line text editors, file browsers and drag and drop mechanisms.

In October 2002, IBM Egypt was chosen to provide support for Semitic languages -- such as Arabic and Hebrew -- used in Motif graphic user interface. IBM Egypt developed support for Semitic language text that included adaptations to key parts of the user interface and input/output handling software as well as such basic applications as text editing.

IBM Egypt, launched in 1982 and which contains 200 software engineers and programmers, was authorized to resolve problems in the difficulty of placing Arabic and Hebrew letters in relation to surrounding segments, which may contain other characters. The company provides support for the entire Middle East region.

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