IRAN’S CYBER THREAT NEEDS MORE ATTENTION

By INU Staff

INU- The West must pay more attention to the growing cyber threat posed by the Iranian Regime, according to political scientist Dr Majid Rafizadeh, as it has “direct and indirect implications on global security”.

Iran’s cyber warfare programme fact file
• Established in 2012
• Run by the Supreme Council of Cyberspace, which answers to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei
• An indispensable pillar of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) and Iran’s foreign policies
• Fourth-largest cyber power in the world, according to IRGC, and a major player according to some think tanks

What is Iran’s cyber warfare programme used for?
It is used solely to carry out cyber espionage and launch cyber attacks in an attempt to damage the financial, security and political infrastructures of other countries.
Just last week, two Iranians were indicted in the US for a series of cyber attacks, targeting hospitals, schools, state agencies and other institutions, that held data hostage for ransom payments.

Brian Benczkowski, the head of the criminal division of the Justice Department, said that those individuals “deliberately engaged in an extreme form of 21st-century digital blackmail, attacking and extorting vulnerable victims like hospitals and schools — victims they knew would be willing and able to pay”.
And this is far from the first time that the Iranian regime has been accused of something like this.

In 2013, US banking systems were attacked on an unprecedented level, which US officials said pointed to the Iranian government, while the US Justice Department recently indicted seven Iranians for attacks on 46 companies mainly in the banking and financial sector.
Furthermore, US intelligence believes that Iran was behind the 2012 “Shamoon” attack on Saudi Arabia’s Aramco oil corporation.

Why is Iran doing this?
Iran likes to avoid direct confrontation, as they know they are no match to the US’ military might, so they use proxy groups and cyber warfare, which are much harder to track and in some cases much more devastating.

Sadly, Iran’s cyber warfare programme is advancing too quickly for it to be ignored any longer and the international community must act now.

Dr Majid Rafizadeh wrote: “The regime has shown that it will not hesitate to attack rival countries through cyber platforms and inflict significant damage on ordinary people, as well as governmental, private and public institutions.

It is incumbent on the international community to act swiftly and hold the Iranian regime accountable for its cyber attacks against other governments and their citizens.”

Advertisements

EUROPE MUST STOP TRYING TO SAVE IRAN REGIME

By INU Staff

INU- Europe is still shamelessly trying to appease the Iranian Regime by sticking steadfastly to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal at seemingly any cost, which is awfully reminiscent of how British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain treated Hitler in the late 1930s, according to human rights advocate Heshmat Alavi.

While the US is imposing sanctions on the mullahs and putting international security above trade deals, Europe is trying to figure out a way to evade these sanctions and continue trade with Iran. It seems they have not learnt their lesson about cosying up to dictators, so they are neglecting terrorist threats posed by Iran in favour of securing short-term economic benefits.

Europe’s main idea for protecting Iran from US sanctions involves a special purpose vehicle that works on a barter system or uses the Euro for trade or possibly something else by the time you read this as no one seems to be sure how it would work. No one even knows where it would be located as no country seems to want to take it on. One thing that many experts agree on though is that it will still violate US sanctions, leaving all parties involved liable to severe penalties.

Then, of course, there are the consequences of continuing to fund the Iranian Regime, when we know that all of their money goes into their malign plot for regional domination, which has resulted in countless proxy wars across the Middle East and attempted terrorist attacks in Europe. How can Europe justify giving money to the mullahs when they know it will be used to kill and maim people anywhere, let alone the Europeans?

This year alone, Iran has been using proxies across the Middle East to create chaos in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine, to cite just the most prominent examples. They’ve also been caught up in numerous terror plots in Europe, in Albania, France, Denmark, Turkey and the Netherlands; all of which were thankfully caught in time by the European authorities.

Just recently, Iran test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple warheads in violation of the UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which enshrines the nuclear deal, and earned condemnation from Britain and France. But both countries remain committed to the nuclear deal.

Alavi wrote: “Europe must learn from the mid-20th century and modern history, and finally bring an end to its humiliating indulging of Iran’s terror-fuelling regime. Tehran’s malign activities must not go ignored, including human rights violations, the proliferation of ballistic missiles and a very suspicious nuclear program while sitting on an ocean of crude oil and natural gas.”

He advised that Iran’s Regime will soon fall, especially as the Iranian people step up their protests, so Europe should decide to stand on the right side of history and oppose the mullahs.

IED Attacks on US Troops in Iraq War Point to Iran Regime

In the second day of a federal trial, where civilian law firms and hundreds of victims of terrorist attacks during the Iraq War are taking on the Iranian Regime, experts have been connecting the dots between the improvised explosive device (IED) attacks that killed or maimed over 1,000 US troops and the lingering pain and suffering that they caused.

According to military experts, the initial attacks on coalition forces were brutal, but not sophisticated, meaning that they were easily countered. Later in the war, Army Capt. Wade Barker said, the enemy began using more sophisticated bombs and deployment methods, i.e. the “explosively formed penetrator”. This leads us to the source of the training and devices: the Iranian Regime.

The attorneys – Tab Turner from Arkansas and a collection of lawyers from the New Jersey firm Osen – are wanting to prove a link between the weapons, training and tactics used against coalition forces by terrorist groups in Iraq and the Iranian Regime. If they are successful, the plaintiffs could be eligible for financial compensation from a specially designated fund for victims of state-sponsored terrorism.

The explosively formed penetrator (EFP), which was capable of getting through multiple layers of amours, was used in most of the 90 attacks being dealt with in this court case and is the key piece of evidence of Iran’s involvement. After all, the engineering prowess required to build one was far greater than the typical insurgent would have.

Experts can easily tell the difference between an EFP device and any other bomb because of the shape of the hole created in the armour and the traces of copper present at the site. It’s the physical evidence that points to Iran as the guilty party, according to attorneys.

Baker analyzed the physical traces of a handful of the 90 attacks listed in the lawsuit, but also determined that the militants employed more sophisticated techniques that they likely learnt from the Iranian Regime direct or through their Lebanese-based Hezbollah militia.

He explained that the ignition systems and machined parts, as well as the methods used, point to Iran-backed Hezbollah, as it would require a “classically trained engineer”.

Attorneys in the trial had already shown how Iran would lead terrorist groups like Hezbollah to attack US forces, using testimony from civilian experts and military leaders.

The troops affected by these attacks suffered both mental and physical wounds that far exceed the normal combat trauma, which experts said can be impossible to shake.

US, EU or protestors: Who has the final word on Iran?

By Hassan Mahmoudi

The Trump administration on November 20, 2018 announced new sanctions designed to disrupt an alleged Iranian and Russian scheme to ship oil to Syria, billing it as part of Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign on Tehran and a push to cut off fuel supplies for Syrian leader Bashar Assad.

The Treasury Department designated nine targets linked to what it called an illicit plot involving officials in Iran working with Russian companies to send millions of barrels of oil to the Assad government in exchange for funds that Tehran then used to fund designated terrorist groups.

When US, UK, and French forces launched air strikes in April 2018 targeting sites associated with Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities, as reprisal for a chemical attack that killed at least 43 civilians and injured hundreds more, Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, said these coordinated air strikes were a crime that would bring no benefit.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry has also lashed out at the Western states that conducted the joint massive missile strike on targets in Syria and warned of “regional consequences.”

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has said the US-led attack against Syria would lead to the destruction of the Middle Eastern countries. This bluster and heated rhetoric about “the region” sounds on the face of it about par for the course for the mullahs, but in truth, they probably do realize that it was really a strike against Iranian capacities in the region.

This event proved the rightful cry of Iranians protesting against the regime “No Gaza, No Lebanon, I Sacrifice My Life for Iran”. Iranian social unrest and protests have spread widely across the country.

Sources in Iran say the anxiety has increased daily over the corruption, high inflation, and growing unemployment and direct action continues despite the constant threats, deceptive promises and other strike-breaking measures of the regime. These also include the arrests of a large number of workers, as the strikes continue in Shush, Ahvaz, Esfahan, Karaj.

And while these events are unfolding inside Iran, on the international stage three were arrested after terror attack foiled: Plot to bomb Iran rally halted after car with explosives found.

On July 2, 2018, an Iranian diplomat was among three people arrested over an alleged terror threat after a plot to bomb a Free Iran rally in Paris was discovered by Belgian authorities. Three terror plot suspects were arrested in France and Germany over an alleged terror attack plot to bomb a rally organized by the main opposition group in Paris.

 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during a meeting with UN nuclear chief Yukiya Amano, in Tehran on Sept. 20, 2015. (AP)

Danish soil

And on Oct 30, 2018, Denmark foiled an “Iranian intelligence agency” attack. Danish security officials have accused Iranian intelligence of “planning an attack on Danish soil” against Iranian Arab dissidents that Tehran has linked to recent terrorist attacks inside Iran.

Characteristically, Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign-policy chief, responded blandly that “we are following events.”

Even as Iranian hit squads are setting up shop across the Continent, the European Union is displaying a fundamental lack of seriousness about a country uninterested in distinctions between bombs, missiles, and assassinations.

The European Union vowed to follow the failed policy of appeasement under the pretext of economic relations with Iran.

Press reports said then that Western intelligence services were concerned about the possibility of Iran stepping up terrorist attacks in Europe and the US. The most destructive type of appeasement in the face of the Iranian regime’s religious dictatorship is remaining silent following terror attacks.”

However, those who doubt that US President Donald Trump’s Iran sanctions will hit their target should reconsider. It is true that their immediate impact on Iran’s oil export revenues will likely be minimal. But in the longer term, the effects of the sanctions on the regime could be significant.

And, in conclusion, whether or not the sanction has a significant effect the right solution lies in the hands of a generation risen in this path demanding the regime’s overthrow.

As the Iranian Resistance’s Leader has said, “The days of Khomeini’s heirs and the brutal mullahs are numbered. The dawn of freedom and justice is on the horizon.”
_________________________
Hassan Mahmoudi is a human rights advocate, specializing in political and economic issues relating to Iran and the Middle East. Follow him on Twitter at @hassan_mahmou1

This article was first published by alarabiya

 

A PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION FROM ALBANIA MEETS WITH MARYAM RAJAVI

A delegation from the Parliament of Albania, headed by Deputy Chairman of the Parliament Edi Paloka, met and held talks in Albania with Maryam Rajavi on Tuesday evening, December 4, 2018.

Five members of the Albanian Parliament, Messrs. Edmond Spaho, Endri Hasa, Xhemal Gjunkshi, and Mses. Grida Duma and Valentina Duka, also attended this meeting.

Deputy Chairman Edi Paloka said in this meeting, “No only we in the parliament but all the people of Albania are happy with the presence of the PMOI in this country.”

Edmond Spaho, MP, stated, “Your courage, resolve and perseverance is an historical example and this is why the international support for your resistance grows by the day.”

Another MP, Grida Duma, said, “It is a pleasure for us to welcome you and say that all of us in Albania support your presence here because you represent the values of freedom and democracy. You have revived the original humanitarian principles of Islam and stood up to religious coercions.”

Valentina Duka, MP, also said, “We thank you for all the good work you have done for Iran’s freedom and particularly for women’s rights.”
MP Endri Hasa pointed out that he always follows the news of Iran and the uprisings, and added, “We actively support your movement.”
Mr. Xhemal Gjunkshi, MP, stated, “My colleagues and I support you and we wish that you succeed in reaching your ultimate goal which is Iran’s freedom.”

Welcoming the parliamentary delegation from Albania, Maryam Rajavi expressed her gratitude for the solid support lent to the PMOI by Albanian MPs from the ruling party to the opposition parties. She asserted, “Demonstrations and protests by various social strata have been continuing and expanding. Although Iran is a rich country, the majority of the people of Iran today live below the poverty line, an unemployment, inflation, and corruption are rampant. So, the people of Iran are determined to put an end to this situation and achieve their freedom.”

Maryam Rajavi extended her appreciation to members and leaders of the Parliament of Albania for their support and expressed her wishes that with the victory of the Iranian people and Resistance, the region and the world would be relieved of the mullahs’ belligerence and terrorism, and a new season would start in the relations between Iran and Albania.

http://www.maryam-rajavi.com

Shocking Report by Amnesty International: Iran Regime’s Crime Against Humanity

Dec. 4, 2018. Today Amnesty International published a shocking report about the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran titled:

Iran committing crimes against humanity by concealing fate of thousands of slaughtered political dissidents

The following are excerpts from this report:

By concealing the fate and whereabouts of thousands of political dissidents who were forcibly disappeared and secretly executed in prison 30 years ago, Iranian authorities are continuing to commit crimes against humanity, said Amnesty International in a damning report published today. The report Blood-soaked secrets: Why Iran’s 1988 prison massacres are ongoing crimes against humanity calls on the UN to set up an independent investigation into the mass enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings which have gone unpunished for three decades.

• Thousands forcibly disappeared and extra judicially executed in prison in 1988

• Ongoing campaign to deny, distort truth and abuse victims’ families

• UN must establish independent investigation into crimes against humanity

• High-profile figures accused of involvement in 1988 prison massacres named

By concealing the fate and whereabouts of thousands of political dissidents who were forcibly disappeared and secretly executed in prison 30 years ago, Iranian authorities are continuing to commit crimes against humanity, said Amnesty International in a damning report published today.

The report Blood-soaked secrets: Why Iran’s 1988 prison massacres are ongoing crimes against humanity calls on the UN to set up an independent investigation into the mass enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings which have gone unpunished for three decades.

“These blood-soaked secrets from Iran’s past continue to haunt the country to the present day. This report unravels the web of denials and distortions that the Iranian authorities have perpetuated over 30 years, both at home and internationally, to hide the truth that they forcibly disappeared and systematically killed thousands of political dissidents within a matter of weeks between late July and early September 1988,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

“The fact that to this day the Iranian authorities refuse to acknowledge the mass killings, tell relatives when, how and why their loved ones were killed and identify and return their bodies, means that the enforced disappearances are continuing today. This has inflicted torturous suffering on victims’ families. Until Iran’s authorities come clean and publicly reveal the fate and whereabouts of the victims, these crimes against humanity are ongoing.”

This report unravels the web of denials and distortions that the Iranian authorities have perpetuated over 30 years, both at home and internationally, to hide the truth that they forcibly disappeared and systematically killed thousands of political dissidents within a matter of weeks.

For 30 years, families of victims have been denied the right to bury their loved ones and mourn their loss. Those who dare to seek truth and justice have faced relentless harassment, intimidation, arbitrary arrest and detention, as well as torture and other ill-treatment. Further suffering has been caused by the desecration and destruction of mass grave sites.

Meanwhile, individuals responsible for these crimes against humanity have evaded justice and in some cases those involved have held and continue to hold powerful positions in Iran today. More recently, after further evidence of what happened emerged, the mass killings have been celebrated in the country and those involved hailed as heroes.

“Instead of continuing their cruel attacks against families, the Iranian authorities should be ensuring their right to truth, justice and reparation – including returning victims’ bodies and identifying remains by allowing professional exhumations of mass graves and DNA analysis,” said Philip Luther.

For this report, Amnesty International gathered testimonies of more than 100 family members and survivors from across Iran and examined hundreds of documents from the organization’s own historical archives; reports, memoirs and other written materials from survivors and Iranian human rights groups; and statements from the UN and Iranian authorities. It also crosschecked lists containing the names of thousands of victims and examined victims’ death certificates, many of which deceptively give no explanation or cite “natural causes” as the cause of death. The organization’s research reveals the shocking national scale and geographical spread of the mass killings, identifying at least 32 cities across Iran where these atrocities took place.

1988 prison massacres

The report describes how, in late July 1988, the authorities put prisons on lockdown across the country and suspended family visits without giving any reasons. Over the following weeks at least 5,000 political dissidents were extrajudicially executed in a co-ordinated effort to eliminate political opposition. This was on the orders of at least one secret fatwa issued by the then Supreme Leader of Iran, Rouhollah Khomeini….

Instead of continuing their cruel attacks against families, the Iranian authorities should be ensuring their right to truth, justice and reparation – including returning victims’ bodies and identifying remains

Across Iran, groups of prisoners were rounded up, blindfolded and brought before committees involving judicial, prosecution, intelligence and prison officials. These “death commissions” bore no resemblance to a court and their proceedings were summary and arbitrary in the extreme. There was no possibility of appeal at any time.

Prisoners were asked questions such as whether they were prepared to repent for their political opinions, publicly denounce their political groups and declare loyalty to the Islamic Republic. Some were asked cruel questions such as whether they were willing to walk through an active minefield to assist the army or participate in firing squads.

They were never told that their answers could condemn them to death. Some thought they were appearing before a pardon committee. Often, they only discovered they were to be executed minutes before they were lined up before a firing squad or nooses were put around their necks.

Most of the victims were serving prison terms issued years earlier. Some had been detained for years without trial, and some had already completed their sentences but were due to be released. Most had been imprisoned because of their political opinions and peaceful activities such as distributing leaflets and attending demonstrations.

The majority of the victims were affiliated with the PMOI, but hundreds of prisoners affiliated with leftist political organizations and Kurdish opposition groups were also executed.

Key figures involved in the killings

Many of the officials who participated in the “death commissions” in 1988 have held, and in some cases continue to hold, positions of power in Iran today. In particular, the report compiles evidence showing that the following officials participated in the “death commissions”:

• Alireza Avaei, Iran’s current minister of justice, was the prosecutor general of Dezful in Khuzestan province and was tasked with participating in the “death commission” in that city.

 Hossein Ali Nayyeri, who acted as Shari’a judge in the Tehran “death commission”, is today head of the Supreme Disciplinary Court for Judges.

• Ebrahim Raisi, the deputy prosecutor general of Tehran in 1988 and another member of the Tehran “death commission”, ran for the presidency in 2017 and has held several high-profile positions, most recently as the country’s prosecutor general until 2016.

• Mostafa Pour Mohammadi, who served as justice minister between 2013 and 2017, represented the ministry of intelligence in the Tehran “death commission”. In August 2016, he was quoted boasting about his role saying, “We are proud to have carried out God’s commandment concerning the [PMOI]”, and openly declared that he had not “lost any sleep all these years” over the killings.

• Mohammad Hossein Ahmadi, who participated in the Khuzestan “death commission”, is currently a member of the Assembly of Experts, a constitutional body that has the power to appoint or dismiss Iran’s Supreme Leader.

In August 2016, an audio recording was leaked of an August 1988 meeting in which some of the key officials from the Tehran “death commission” are heard discussing its harrowing work. In response to the publicity sparked by this revelation, Iranian leaders have openly celebrated the events of 1988, glorifying the purge and describing those responsible as worthy of receiving “medals of honour”.

The grotesque distortion of the truth about these heinous crimes, coupled with the clear lack of remorse displayed by those with blood on their hands, is sickening.

These statements follow a three-decade long campaign of misinformation in which the authorities have downplayed the scale of the killings and demonized the victims as a “few terrorists”.

“The grotesque distortion of the truth about these heinous crimes, coupled with the clear lack of remorse displayed by those with blood on their hands, is sickening. All individuals involved in committing and concealing these crimes must be brought to justice in fair trials that exclude the death penalty,” said Philip Luther.

Need for international action

Families and survivors have been grossly failed by the UN and international community. The lack of condemnation from the UN Commission of Human Rights at the time and the failure of the UN General Assembly to refer the situation to the Security Council emboldened Iran’s authorities to continue to deny the truth and inflict torture and other ill-treatment on the families.

“The abject failure of the UN and international community to pursue truth and justice for the atrocities committed by Iranian authorities has had catastrophic consequences not only on survivors and victims’ families but also on the rule of law and respect for human rights in the country. Iran’s authorities must no longer be allowed to shield themselves from accountability for their crimes against humanity,” said Philip Luther.

“With no prospects of justice for victims inside Iran, it is even more crucial that the UN establishes an independent, impartial and effective international mechanism to help bring those responsible for these abhorrent crimes to justice.”

ncr-iran

Sanctions relief doesn’t promote Iran’s moderation or help its people

By Kasra Nejat

When the Iran nuclear deal was being sold to Western audiences in 2015, the predominant narrative was that sanctions relief would encourage a general trend toward moderation within the theocratic regime. The preamble of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action even declares that its signatories anticipated the agreement would contribute positively to peace and stability throughout the region.

Three years later, the reality is very different.

The fingerprints of the Islamic Republic are prominent on most every conflict that bars the region from achieving any meaningful stability. Thanks to persistent, hardline Iranian influence, the crises then defining the Middle East have continued unabated and in some cases have even accelerated.

In recent months, Iran’s malign influence has extended to western countries, where various plots and activities have been uncovered that demonstrate the ongoing hostility of the Iranian regime. At least two agents of the Islamic Republic have been indicted in an American court for spying on and apparently setting the stage for would-be attacks on Iranian Resistance activists living in the U.S.

Simultaneous with the prospective use of terrorism and asymmetrical warfare against the West, other activities point to Iran’s reliance on more traditional threats. The regime has continued to stockpile and test ballistic missiles, including those perhaps capable of carrying nuclear warheads — a major justification for President Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA in May.

Meanwhile, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps has resumed its harassment of Western naval and commercial vessels in the Persian Gulf — an active policy throughout much of the time the nuclear deal was in full effect. Dozens of “dangerous and unprofessional” encounters were recorded during 2015 and 2016, with the IRGC sometimes refusing to break off from its fast approach until warning shots were fired into the water.

Last month, several IRGC fast-attack boats shadowed the USS Essex, coming within about 300 yards, while General Joseph Votel, the head of US Central Command, was on board.

Even as much of Europe is supposedly conspiring to help the Iranians avoid the effect of renewed sanctions, Iranian hostility has not been limited to the U.S. Shortly before the USS Essex incident, similar IRGC boats blocked the course of the UK destroyer HMS Dragon. Even more telling were the foiled terrorist attacks on European targets, including the Albanian residence of more than 2,500 members of the leading Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK), in March; and the international rally near Paris of the MEK’s parent coalition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), in June. The second incident was so bold that a high-ranking Iranian diplomat provided two operatives with the explosives and instructions.

The Iranian regime’s behavior in the nearly three years it has been the beneficiary of widespread sanctions relief underscores the fact that regional interference, military build-up and confrontations with Iran’s “enemies” are its priorities, not improvements in its domestic policies or the lives of ordinary Iranians. The domestic unrest that has pervaded the Islamic Republic since a nationwide mass uprising erupted at the end of last year has underscored the public awareness that dire economic problems are the result of government neglect and mismanagement, not international sanctions. Protests have been defined by slogans like, “Forget about Syria; Think about us.”

The same conclusion can be drawn with regard to Tehran’s belligerence and its anti-Western activities. Proponents of sanctions relief can no longer defend the notion that such conciliation promotes moderation, nor can they adjust their narrative to reflect concern for the Iranian people. Clearly, a policy of maximum pressure on the Iranian regime is the right course, benefiting both Western interests and the Iranian people and their prospects for a free, democratic future.

The Iranian people have only one priority: freeing themselves from the grip of the clerical dictatorship. This priority should be shared by the international community when contemplating Iran policy in the days and months to come.

Kasra Nejat is a resident of St. Louis and president of the Iranian American Cultural Association of Missouri, a member of the Organization of Iranian American Communities.

This article was first published by olumbiatribune