Showing posts with label iran. Show all posts
Showing posts with label iran. Show all posts

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Gulliver Tied Down by Lilliputians

by David P. Goldman

One in five applicants for jobs at the Central Intelligence Agency have ties to Muslim terrorist organizations, according to the latest round of Snowden leaks. And Israel is a major target of American counterintelligence. Washington is insane.

Three years ago, the Washington Post sketched the elephantiasis in the U.S. intelligence establishment without, of course, access to the detailed numbers leaked by Edward Snowden last week. It doesn't matter how much money you spend if you can't hire people you can trust. If you spend $52 billion in the "black budget," you create so many conflicting bureaucratic interest groups as to cancel out any possible signal with a wave of noise.

As I pointed out in a 2010 post at First Things, at last count there were fewer than 2,500 Americans studying Arabic at advanced university courses (not counting, of course, the internal training of the U.S. military). Fewer than 250 were studying Farsi. The total pool of truly competent Arab speakers coming out of American universities per year probably is in the low hundreds. How many of these can U.S. intelligence agencies recruit? If we can't recruit translators among Americans whose background is verifiable, we rely on first- and second-generation immigrants from Arab countries whose background is not verifiable. We should assume that our intelligence services are riddled with hostiles. We are Gulliver tied down by Lilliputians.

Israel, by contrast, has a surfeit of Arabic translators — the language is taught in every Israeli high school, and is easy for Hebrew-speakers to master. Israeli friends of mine who were trained as Arabic translators for intelligence work were sent to guard duty in the Negev because the military had too many skilled linguists.

The U.S. has relied extensively on friendly Arab intelligence services, above all the Egyptians, to fill the gap — except that the Obama administration did its best to bring down the Egyptian military in 2011 and install the Muslim Brotherhood. The Israelis have plenty to tell, but little that Washington wants to hear: Israel never fell victim to the mass delusion about the so-called Arab Spring, and has warned throughout (along with Saudi Arabia) that Iran's nuclear ambitions must be crushed. Israel therefore is treated as an intelligence target rather than as a collaborator, while the Arab intelligence services who most might help us — Egyptian and Saudi — must regard us with skepticism in the best of cases and hostility in the worst.

America is flying blind into a hurricane. Americans who write about the Middle East now depend on what other countries choose to leak to us. Washington isn't in the loop any longer.

Mr. Goldman, president of Macrostrategy LLC, is a fellow at the Middle East Forum and the London Center for Policy Research.


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Administration Believed Iran would Ditch Assad over Use of WMD

by Rick Moran

The notion that Iran would abandon President Assad because he gassed his own people may strain credulity for you and me, but recall that this is a president who actually thought writing a nice letter to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei would lead to a breakthrough in nuclear negotiations.

Self delusion is a large part of Obama's foreign policy so why should it surprise us that he thinks Iran is a sane actor on the world stage?

Washington Examiner:

Samantha Power, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, hoped that a team of UN investigators - many of whom, presumably, have a longstanding relationship with Iranian leaders -- could write a report that would convince Iran to abandon its ally at the behest of the United States.
"We worked with the UN to create a group of inspectors and then worked for more than six months to get them access to the country on the logic that perhaps the presence of an investigative team in the country might deter future attacks," Power said at the Center for American Progress as she made the case for intervening in Syria.
"Or, if not, at a minimum, we thought perhaps a shared evidentiary base could convince Russia or Iran - itself a victim of Saddam Hussein's monstrous chemical weapons attacks in 1987-1988 - to cast loose a regime that was gassing it's people," she said.
Rather than "cast loose" Assad after the latest chemical weapons attack, as the Obama team hoped, "Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei has warned the Obama administration against any proposed military strike on Syria," as the International Business Times reports.
Only someone besotted with an ideology that believes the rest of the world acts selflessly and is animated by humanitarian and other lofty concerns would make such a remarkably ignorant statement like that.  To actually believe that Russia and Iran would act against their own national interest regardless of what their ally has done reveals  a dangerous - even suicidal mind set.

Liberals believe everyone in the world thinks as they do because, obviously, they are morally superior to those who think differently. I don't know whether it's political correctness or idealism run wild that causes people supposedly smarter than the rest of us to believe nonsense like this, but whatever it is, there is real potential for these incompetents to blunder into World War III - and then blame it on Bush.

Rick Moran


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Humanitarian Tragedy: Iran’s Beleaguered Jewish Community

by Majid Rafizadeh


One of the crucial humanitarian tragedies- that the world and the mainstream media has failed to focus on- is the fate and current living situation of Jewish communities in the Muslim-dominated countries, particularly the Shiite-Islamist country of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Jewish community in the Islamic state of Iran has been subject to little scholarly work and research. Largely due to the fact that the Islamist theocratic regime of Iran has not granted access to scholars, journalists, and other researchers to deeply investigate the conditions of the Jewish community under Islamist rule in Iran.

Although the Jewish community has long faced discrimination, inequality, and intolerance in Muslim communities such as Iran (for example in March 1839 many Jews in Iran were horrifically forced to convert to Islam in what is known as the Allahdad incident), the persecution of the Jewish people exponentially increased since the Shiite-Islamist and Sharia law-based ruling cleric came to power under the rule of the Ayatollah Ruhallah Khomeini. The Jewish community of Iran is a staple of the nation’s history though, as the Jews of Iran trace their history back 2,800 years, when communities of the tribes of Israel were taken into captivity by the Assyrian king and sent into exile. The Jewish community primarily settled in the Giliard region of Damavand, near Tehran.

When Ayatollah Khomeini began galvanizing the Iranian people against Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, he issued statements on the condition of Iran’s Jewish community. Before ascending to power; Khomeini claimed that he believed the Jewish people in Iran should enjoy the same citizenship rights as every other citizen. This classic Machiavellian strategy was intended to gain the support of influential Jewish social groups in Tehran, which comprised approximately 150,000 members.

Nevertheless, when the Ayatollah Khomeini was capable of overthrowing the Shah’s government, and when the Islamist state of Iran was established, he and the ruling clerics immediately arrested some of the most prominent Iranian-Jewish community leaders and businessmen, including Habib Elghanian. The Jewish community leaders were tortured and executed. Since the onset of the persecution, the Israeli flag has been repeatedly torched, and the Star of David desecrated, in Palestine Square in Tehran. The Jewish community found their survival threatened and humanitarian rights repressed. These actions forced them to flee the area after calling the area home for thousands of years. The Iranian-Jewish population decreased to approximately 10,000 people who chose to remain in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Jewish community that was unwilling to flee from Iran was made up of devout and committed people aiming to protect their sacred places and synagogues regardless of the threats and persecutions, as well as seniors who were unable to resettle elsewhere.

When I lived in the city of Esfahan in Iran— a place where a few hundreds of Jewish people still reside— I met a young intelligent, cheerful, and kind girl called Zahra. After time I realized that her real name, what she was called at home, was indeed Abbey. She explained the reason for having two names:  “I feel as if we live two different lives. We have to keep everything secrets about our faith, religion, and family from the public. We even have to have different names in the public. All my family members have two names. My parents always tell me that these times will pass.”

As the Islamist party of Iran came to power, verses of the Quran claiming the inferiority of the Jewish and Christian peoples became popular slogans for the Shiite-Islamist ruling clerics. The several verses of the Quran include:

“5:51- O you who believe! Do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people”,  “4:91- If the unbelievers do not offer you peace, kill them [The Jews] wherever you find them. Against such you are given clear warrant”, “5:59-Jews and Christians are evil-livers”, and “9:30- Christians and Jews are perverse. Allah himself fights against them.”

Disregarding the public persecution, intolerance, and inequality that other religions face, the constitution has been used to safeguard the rights of the Muslim population in Iran. Article 12 of the Iranian Constitution states:

“The official religion of Iran is Islam and the Twelver Ja’fari school, and this principle will remain eternally immutable.  Other Islamic schools are to be accorded full respect, and their followers are free to act in accordance with their own jurisprudence in performing their religious rites.  These schools enjoy official status in matters pertaining to religious education, affairs of personal status (marriage, divorce, inheritance, and wills) and related litigation in courts of law.  In regions of the country where Muslims following any one of these schools constitute the majority, local regulations, within the bounds of the jurisdiction of local councils, are to be in accordance with the respective school, without infringing upon the rights of the followers of other schools”

Currently, Jewish people are not allowed to take key governmental positions in Iran. According to the constitution, the Jews cannot hold decision-making positions such as being a member of the influential Guardian Council, a Commander in the Iranian Army, and serving as the President of the nation, among others. More fundamentally, the Jewish people can neither become judges at any level nor assist in the judicial and legislative systems. Furthermore, Jewish-Iranians are banned from becoming members of parliament (The Consultative Assembly) through general elections.

In addition, qisas or the right to equal retaliation has not been specified in the Penal Code for the Jewish people. Meaning that in the case of murder, the right of a family member to demand execution of the murderer would be totally left to the discretion of the Islamist judges. Furthermore, the diya, or blood money (compensation for the family of a victim) is half for the Jews and women.

These few Islamist rules and laws based on the Quran, Shiite-Iranian clerical and Shari’a law only begin to encompass the deep-rooted religious inequality of the region. Western Muslim scholars who enjoy their lives in the majority Christian societies, must look more closely at how other minorities, particularly the Jews, are being treated in nations such as Iran under majority Islamic and Shiite rule.

Majid Rafizadeh


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

IRGC Claims Iran Can Hack Enemy's Advanced Weapons Systems

by Y. Mansharof

The Iranian regime views the cyber arena as an active warzone with the U.S. and its allies, and in recent years has invested substantial efforts in it, for both psychological warfare and physical sabotage of Western infrastructure. The cyber arena is also used by the regime as a tool for spreading its ideology, by exporting the Islamic Revolution and by preparing for the arrival of the Hidden Imam (the Shi'ite messiah).
Regime officials and mouthpieces often depict Iran as defending itself against a Western cultural onslaught, with the cyber arena – chiefly social networks – being one of the main elements of the "soft warfare" being waged against the regime. For that reason, the regime blocks Facebook and Twitter in the country, even though many Iranian users know how to circumvent this using special software.[1]
Regime spokesmen often state that Iran's cyber capabilities are aimed at protecting regime infrastructure from Western cyber-attack, and deny that the regime is involved in Iranian cyber-attacks on Western infrastructure.[2] However, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) claims that Tehran has developed cyber capabilities that enable it to penetrate the enemy's advanced military infrastructure. Thus, alongside its defensive cyber system, the regime has also established an offensive cyber system, which includes organized hacker groups as part of the Basij, as well as independent groups, working in concert with the regime. This system has been behind a series of cyber-attacks on websites and infrastructure outside Iran in recent years, including against the NASA website.
IRGC and Basij officials have repeatedly boasted about the regime's offensive cyber capabilities. Abdolreza Azadi, the IRGC commander in Hamedan, said in 2011, during Friday prayers: "On the instructions of Leader [Khamenei], the IRGC and the Basij have conquered the Internet arena and have to a large extent shut down the enemy's cyber force."[iii] Basij deputy commander Ali Fazli said in March 2013: "Just as there are cyber-attacks against us, our cyber corps – which comprises experts from the instructor, student, religious student, and sisters' Basij – attacks enemy websites... Warfare, especially cyber warfare, is bilateral, and defense will be successful if it is accompanied by a planned and calculated offensive."[4]
This paper will review the Iranian regime's preparations in the cyber arena, with a focus on its offensive capabilities.
The Iranian Regime Sets Up Its Cyber System
Establishing Cyber Institutions, Conducting Cyber Maneuvers
The importance that the Iranian regime places on the cyber arena was clearly illustrated in statements by Gholam Reza Jalali, director of the Passive Defensive Organization, which is the regime's emergency system plan and which is tasked with managing the civilian cyber system. In August 2012, he said, "The world is currently heading towards cyber warfare."[5]
In October 2011, the Passive Defense Organization established the Cyber Headquarters, which oversees these activities as well as the defense of the country's infrastructure, and which is deployed nationally via cyber headquarters that have been set up in various cities.
In addition to the Passive Defense Organization, cyber headquarters in the Iranian military and IRGC are also in operation. In October 2009, Iran founded the Cyber Police, a body that tracks regime opponents on the web and arrests them.[6]
From time to time, the Passive Defense Organization conducts cyber maneuvers in an attempt to institute and establish the cyber system and to improve its defensive capabilities against cyber-attacks. In early July 2013 Jalali said that the regime would soon conduct national cyber maneuvers, and that his organization would set regulations for vital infrastructure in Iran in order to attain complete cyber safety.[7] In August 2011, the Passive Defense Organization conducted a national drill aimed at testing state organizations' and institutions' vulnerability to cyber-attacks.[8] Jalali even said that between March 2011 and March 2012, the organization had conducted 500 cyber maneuvers across the country.[9]
Regime officials have claimed that Iran has attained cyber warfare capabilities matching and even surpassing those of the U.S. In February 2011, Ali Saeedi, Khamenei's representative in the IRGC, said that Tehran was ahead of Washington in terms of cyber-warfare;[10] in February 2013, Saeedi's deputy, Mohammad Hossein Sepehr, called Iran "the world's fourth biggest cyber power;"[11] and in May 2012, the commander of the IRGC in Qom, Ebrahim Jabbari, claimed that "the IRGC has managed to establish the second [strongest] cyber army in the world."[12]
Recruiting Hackers For Regime Activity
In an attempt to centralize cyber activity, regime organizations began recruiting hackers for a "Basij Cyber Council." In November 2010, Tehran IRGC commander Hossein Hamedani stated that "the Basij Cyber Council has trained 1,500 cyber-warriors who have assumed their duties and will in future carry out many operations."[13]
IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari said in February 2011 that his organization extensively utilizes the Basij's cyber capabilities: "[The IRGC's] cyber army operates in the virtual arena, which many countries today use for defensive, security, political, and cultural purposes. In light of the capabilities of Basij experts, and with attention to the link between the IRGC and the Basij and forces of the revolution [i.e. the regime], there are no limits with regard to the scope of the forces specializing in cyber warfare, and we use those forces extensively. The assistance from these forces is the reason the IRGC is successful."[14]
On another occasion, Jafari also implied that Iran is receiving help from foreign hackers for cyber-attacks: "It is possible that many cyber war soldiers and officers from other countries will assist us in this war."[15]
In March 2011, Gholam Reza Jalali called on hackers loyal to the regime to join its cyber ranks, saying: "We welcome hackers who wish to work for the Islamic Republic with motivations of good will and revolutionary activism."[16] In June 2011, the IRGC weekly Sobh-e Sadeq called on the regime to recruit hackers for government activity in order "to train an expert force and to pay close attention to the role played by information technology and communications in dealing with the enemy... Establishing cyber headquarters and recruiting revolutionary hackers are vital steps that are appropriate for this."[17]
In addition, the regime is preparing to train skilled academic manpower. In March 2012, various universities in Iran opened cyber defense schools, as part of a program launched by the Passive Defense Organization.[18] At a February 8, 2012 student conference, then-deputy head of Iran's National Security Council, Ali Baqeri, called on students "to play a key role in the cyber area" and boasted that "a document recently published by the U.S. intelligence apparatus said that Iranian intelligence operations against the U.S. have increased in recent years, and so have [Iran's] cyber capabilities."[19] He added: "Your actions in the cyber arena can be highly effective, as was proven in the Islamic Awakening [the Iranian term for the Arab Spring], when [Iranian] students spontaneously contacted Islamic Awakening activists and achieved very important results."[20]
Iranian Regime-Backed Hacks Of Websites Outside Iran
In recent years Tehran has shown offensive cyber-warfare capabilities, as manifested by its hacking of opposition websites inside and outside Iran, and websites of foreign media outlets it considers hostile such as Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Zamaneh, and even government websites in the Gulf, U.K., and U.S., and well as websites in France.[21]
Various Iranian functionaries have encouraged hacking. Vice President Elham Aminzadeh, who was at the time a former Majlis member, said, "It is Iran's right to respond to cyber-attacks with reciprocal attacks, if Iran does not receive the cooperation of international organizations in preventing them."[22] In May 2011, then-intelligence minister Heydar Moslehi called on Iranian citizens to carry out "the necessary actions with regard to the Farsi-language Facebook page opened by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, thus showing their revolutionary spirit."[23] In addition, the cultural director at Lorestan University in Western Iran, Mohammad Reza Khodaei, offered 10 million rials for students who manage to hack into and shut down "immoral" websites, explaining, "Today the enemy is waging soft warfare against divine morality... Today we are dealing with bestial Western culture."[24] In addition, Khodaei asked the science-oriented Informatic student association at Lorestan University to "make it top priority to hack into websites spreading immoral values that operate inside and outside Iran."[25]
Hacker Groups Working For The Regime
Several hacker groups operate as part of the regime; the main ones are the Iranian Cyber Army (ICA), Ashiyane, and Virtual Anonymous Jihad. Smaller groups include the Hezbollah Cyber Army,[26] Shabgard, and Simorgh.
 Ashiyane – Hacking Into NASA And Infrastructure Websites In U.S., U.K, France, And Gulf
Behrouz Kamalian, the head of the Ashiyane hacker group,[27] which in recent years has targeted regime oppositionist websites operating outside Iran, said in October 2009 that his group works in concert with governmental and military organizations.[28]
In May 2008, Kamalian said that the group had hacked into websites in the Gulf, to protest against their use of the term "Arabian Gulf" instead of "Persian Gulf," and added that it had "planted an announcement with a map of Iran with the caption 'The Persian Gulf' on the websites of various companies in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, and Iraq."[29] The Iranian website Tabnak stated that the websites hacked were those of the UAE newspaper Al-Khaleej; the Arabian Gulf League, which is the UAE soccer league; Iraq's Ministry of Higher Education; the Abu Dhabi Police website; Mayadin University in Saudi Arabia; and Oman's gas company.[30]
In 2010, Kamalian said that to mark the regime's Fight Against Terrorism Day, the group had hacked, over the course of two days, 1,000 important websites in the U.K., the U.S., and France – notably the official websites of the State of Louisiana and of the city of Pevensey in the U.K., the website of the U.K. company Logmein, and the website of a web security company in France.[31]
In January 2009, Kamalian claimed that in 2005, his group began hacking websites outside of Iran in response to statements by U.S. officials that Iran was involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He explained: "In protest, we attacked the website of NASA, and managed to hack into it and plant an announcement stating 'Iranians and Muslims are not terrorists' in English alongside an Iranian flag."[32]
Announcement planted by Ashiyane on websites in the U.S., U.K., and France[33]
Kamalian also said that in recent years, Ashiyane had hacked hundreds of websites, including ones hosted in Denmark in response to the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, Arabic-language websites in response to the use of term "Arabian Gulf" instead of "Persian Gulf," and Wahhabi websites in retaliation for a cyber-attack on websites belonging to senior ayatollahs Ali Sistani in Iraq and Makarem Shirazi in Iran. He said that the group had also hacked hundreds of Israeli websites during the second Lebanon war in 2006 and Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2009.[34]
In 2010, Kamalian said that his group operates independently and spontaneously, but acknowledged: "We cooperate with [Iranian] military apparatuses in advising and improving security... Many countries are waging cyber-wars because this type of war is more worthwhile with regard to cost, time, and loss of life. Therefore, the world's most powerful governments, such as Russia, China, Iran, and the U.S., need to have organized groups for cyber-warfare. We have always operated in the framework of the goals of the state, the nation, and the religion, and have never conducted projects against the Iranian country and people."[35]
The Iranian Cyber Army (ICA) – Operating Under IRGC Command
In February 2011, Khamenei's representative in the IRGC, Ali Saeedi, acknowledged that the Iranian Cyber Army (ICA) was operating on behalf of the IRGC. After the hacking that month of the VOA Farsi-language website, Saeedi said: "The attack on the VOA website by the ICA and the message left there ['We have proven that we can' – see image below] for U.S. Secretary of State [Hillary Clinton] reflects the IRGC's capability and strength in the cyber arena."[36] He added that the hack was in response to the U.S.'s support of Iran's Green protest movement.[37]
ICA hacks VOA Farsi-language website[38]
In December 2009, the ICA hacked Twitter, likely in response to the widespread use of the microblogging service in the organization of protests following the June 2009 elections in Iran, and caused it to shut down for two hours.[39] A statement left by the group on the Twitter website (see image below) read: "If Leader [Khamenei] gives the order – we will attack. If he asks us – we are willing to sacrifice our lives. If he asks us for restraint – we will obey."
 Announcement left by the ICA on Twitter[40]
Twitter's announcement that it was hacked[41]
In recent years, the ICA has hacked websites associated with Iranian regime opponents, mainly those who operate abroad. In January 2010 it was reported that the group had hacked Baidu, China's largest search engine,[42] and the website of Radio Zamaneh, which operates out of the Netherlands.[43] In February 2010, the group hacked the website of Mohsen Sazegara, an IRGC founder who defected to the U.S.;[44] Jaras, which is associated with supporters of the Green Movement and operates out of Virginia;[45] and, which is associated with supporters of Mir-Hossein Mousavi, one of the leaders of the Green Movement. In November 2010, the ICA hacked the website of Farsi1, a channel for expatriate Iranians.[46] In February 2012 it was reported that the ICA had hacked the website for the Azerbaijan Broadcast Authority and the website for Azerbaijan Airlines, due to the tension between the two countries.[47]
In the run-up to the June 2013 presidential election, the ICA hacked into 13 regime opponent websites operating outside Iran, among them and, which belong to the Ahwaz separatist opposition; the blog of Iranian journalist Arash Sigarchi, who works for VOA; and the websites and, which are associated with regime opponents.[48]
Virtual Anonymous Jihad – Hacking Websites Belonging To Saudi Government, Exiled Regime Opponents
In June 2013, Iranian human rights activist and Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi revealed that "the hacker group Virtual Anonymous Jihad, which took responsibility for several attacks on websites operating outside Iran, is run and guided by Iranian regime members."[49]
In February 2013, the group hacked and shut down the websites and, which are associated with former Iranian president and regime opponent Abu Al-Hasan Bani Sadr, who is in exile in France.[50] Also, in March 2013, the group hacked, belonging to the Saudi Ministry of Higher Education, to protest against Saudi Arabia's involvement, beginning in 2011, in the Bahraini government's ongoing suppression of Shi'ite protests in Bahrain. (see image below). In May 2013, it also hacked, belonging to an Iranian oppositionist TV channel operating in the U.S., and the Facebook page of BBC Farsi journalist Siavash Ardalan (May 2013).
Hacked Saudi government website: "Bahrain in blood, Saudi is criminal"[51]
On June 13, 2013, the day before Iran's presidential election, the group hacked and shut down prominent regime opponent websites operating outside Iran, among them,, and On some of the hacked websites, the group posted the message: "To those who talk nonsense, and to the mercenaries of the foreigners – there is no safe place. Anywhere you are – you are within range of Hezbollah [Iran] forces."
Message left by the group on
Article In IRGC Weekly: Iran Has The Power To Hack The Enemy's Advanced Weapons Systems
A February 4, 2013 article in the IRGC weekly Sobh-e Sadeq explained the importance of the cyber arena in the struggle between Iran and the U.S., and detailed Iran's offensive capabilities in this area. Following are excerpts from the article:
"The Islamic Republic of Iran is one of the most important targets of American cyber-attacks, and accordingly, there have already been several [U.S.] attacks [against Iran]. Among the American-Zionist cyber-attacks on Iran should be noted the insertion of the Stuxnet, Flame, and Duqu viruses. Just as in the real arena, the U.S. and Zionism aim to take over the cyber arena, and the struggle with Iran is one of their most important goals. However, just as in the real arena, the Islamic regime managed to challenge the American and Western lust for power in the cyber arena, as well as via [the ongoing] resistance and steadfastness...
"The list of topics in Iran's resistance in the cyber arena is lengthy, and is not restricted to technical defense or retaliatory attacks on websites that attack [Iran], but also includes spreading the Islamic culture and school of thought in the cyber arena in an attempt to challenge the West and its materialistic and anti-human culture. Therefore, spreading the Islamic values in the cyber arena is in itself the greatest challenge to Zionism and the U.S. At this time, there are many Islamic and Shi'ite websites that spread the religious values and beliefs in many languages. The Internet is not safe [for Iran] from interference by American and Zionist elements, but at the same time it provides an opportunity to disseminate Islamic values.
"In terms of cyber technology, Iran has made great strides in recent years, and U.S. security and intelligence sources believe that right now Iran has the means and technical capabilities to fight the U.S. in a cyber-war... Iran's cyber capabilities are not merely a slogan but also a fact that outside observers cannot deny. Iran can hack into military computers of enemy countries, and crack passwords for aircraft and missile guidance, and even for ship-to-ship communications systems. Likewise, after the Stuxnet virus attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, the Zionists created the Stars virus to carry out another attack, but Iran's capabilities prevented this virus from having an impact...
"Thus far, the ICA has managed to identify and thwart various cyber activist networks that operated against the religion, morality, and human rights. An example of this is the most important operation from February-March 2009 known as the Gerdab Project – in which the IRGC managed to arrest the main elements behind 90 immoral Farsi-language websites and shut them down. Iran's activity in the cyber arena and its resistance and steadfast position in culture and technology in the face of the U.S.'s and Zionism's materialistic ideology and lust for power have thus far been highly successful."[52]
Commander Of Cyber Headquarters Of Iranian Army: "The Cyber Arena Is Actually The Arena Of The Hidden Imam"
In an April 20, 2013 interview with the Iranian, the commander of the Cyber Headquarters of the Iranian Army, Behrouz Esbati, discussed the dissemination of the values of the revolution via the cyber arena: "The virtual arena... is in fact the chief means for preparing the first steps towards the appearance of the reformer of the world and the one who will establish the rule of the just [i.e. the Hidden Imam]. Today, the Western world has reached a dead end in [its attempts to] present a [new] path for human society – from lifestyle to political, cultural, and social discourse...
"This [Western] society – with all its empty viewpoints – is crumbling. Under these conditions, the path is paved for those who want to show [the world] the Islamic school of thought and its logic, who aspire to establish a regime of divine values – which will in turn prepare the conditions for the appearance of the Hidden Imam.
"The cyber arena is actually the arena of the Hidden Imam. Some believe that Iran does not have the initiative in this arena, and that it is the enemy who holds the [real] capabilities. However, others who are much greater in number – and they include the enemy itself – believe that the rapidity of Iran's conquest of the cyber arena is dizzying. We play a substantial role in the virtual arena, and our impact in the 'soft warfare' front has made the enemy's head spin... The Iranian youth has shown its might in this area."[53]
* Y. Mansharof is a Research Fellow at MEMRI.
[1] The regime also set legal penalties for bloggers and websites posting links to Facebook and Google+., February 11, 2013.
[2] In January and May 2013, U.S. officials accused Tehran of being behind cyber-attacks on computer networks of U.S. energy companies and banks., January 8, 2013, May 24, 2013. In October 2012, Washington accused Tehran in an August 2012 attack on computers belonging to the Saudi ARAMCO., October 24, 2012. Washington also accused Tehran of being behind September 2012 cyber-attacks on U.S. banks, but the director of Iran's Passive Defense Organization denied involvement. Fars (Iran), September 23, 2012.
[3] Fars (Iran), July 1, 2011.
[4] Mehr (Iran), March 14, 2011.
[5] Mehr (Iran), August 11, 2012.
[6] Tabnak (Iran), October 30, 2009. See The Cyber Police arrested regime opponent blogger Sattar Beheshti, who was tortured to death during his arrest. See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5057, Iranian Blogger Who Told Supreme Leader Khamenei 'Your Judicial System... Is Nothing But A Slaughterhouse' Tortured To Death In Prison, November 19, 2012.
[7] Press TV (Iran), July 6, 2013.
[8] Mashregh (Iran), August 21, 2011.
[9] Fars (Iran), September 26, 2011.
[10] IRNA, Fars (Iran), February 22, 2011.
[11] Fars (Iran), February 2, 2013. The Secretary of the Supreme Council of Cyberspace, Mehdi Akhavan Bahabadi, even said that Iran is a world leader in cyber defense, and that it is willing to assist its neighbors protect their oil companies based on its extensive experience. Mehr (Iran), October 14, 2013.
[12] Fars (Iran), May 20, 2012.
[13] ISNA (Iran), November 21, 2010.
[14] Hamshahri (Iran), February 7, 2011.
[15] Mehr (Iran), July 4, 2011
[16] Jalali added: "I warned the group of hackers that wishes to harm the people. We follow their activity and we deal with them harshly.", March 6, 2011. In May 2013, the head of the National Iranian Oil Company, Ahmad Qale'bani said that the company intends to hire hackers to help defend against cyber-attacks on Iran's oil infrastructure. Fars (Iran), May 31, 2013.
[17] Sobh-e Sadeq (Iran), June 27, 2011.
[18] IRNA (Iran), March 24, 2012.
[19] Fars (Iran), February 8, 2012. Fars explained that Baqeri meant that "students should join the cyber arena to contend with the U.S."
[20] Fars (Iran), February 8, 2012.
[21] The management of Radio Farda, which operates in Europe, accused the Iranian regime of being behind cyber-attacks on Facebook pages belonging to Iranian journalists that it employs., January 30, 2013. For the BBC Farsi's claim that it was attacked by Iran and for more on the Cyber Police's activity as part of the IRGC, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 2794, In Run-Up To Islamic Revolution Day 2010, Iranian Regime Steps Up Oversight, Censorship On Media, Citizens, February 5, 2010.
[22] Resalat (Iran), May 29, 2012.
[23] Fars (Iran), May 11, 2011.
[24], July 9, 2012.
[25] ISNA (Iran), June 28, 2012.
[26] It was reported in February 2010 that this group hacked into the website of the Iranian oppositionist party The Association of Combatant Clerics.
[27] The group's website is
[29] Tabnak (Iran), May 29, 2008.
[30] Tabnak (Iran), May 29, 2008.
[31] Fars (Iran), August 30, 2010.
[32] Ashiyane also published a communique on its website taking responsibility for the attack on the NASA website, listing the five subdomains that it hacked:,,,, and For Ashiyane's communique, see
[33] Fars (Iran), August 30, 2010.
[34], January 25, 2009.
[35], September 17, 2010.
[36] Mashregh (Iran), February 22, 2011.
[37] IRNA, Fars (Iran), February 22, 2011.
[38] Fars (Iran), February 22, 2011.
[39], December 18, 2009.
[40] Tabnak (Iran), December 18, 2009.
[41] Tabnak (Iran), December 18, 2009.
[42], January 12, 2010.
[43] Fars (Iran), January 31, 2010.
[44] Tabnak (Iran), February 10, 2010.
[45] Tabnak (Iran), February 12, 2010; Kaleme (Iran), February 13, 2010.
[46], November 17, 2010.
[47], February 23, 2012.
[48] Mehr (Iran), June 14, 2013;, June 15, 2013.
[50] Emadnews (Iran), February 13, 2013.
[52] Sobh-e Sadeq (Iran), February 4, 2013.
[53], April 20, 2013.

Y. Mansharof


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Egypt: Obama’s 1979 Iran

by Majid Rafizadeh


Since the clashes between the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt’s security forces broke out early last week, the Western liberal media, Obama administration, and other Western political leaders in Europe have depicted the Muslim Brotherhood as a democratic non-violent movement, and as a political party victimized in the latest clashes. Most of the far left and liberal analyses, as well as the Obama administration’s recent policy stances on Egypt, imply that the Muslim Brotherhood is a political party that advocates for social justice, democratic values, rule of law, and gender equality.

Firstly, it is both a crucial and intriguing point that similar Western-backed foreign policy mistakes and liberal analyses were made with regards to the Iranian Revolution of 1979. The Western liberal media, left-wing journalists and scholars, along with the Carter administration harshly criticized the ruling Shah, siding and sympathizing with the religious movement under Ayatollah Rooh Allah Khomeini’s leadership. Khomeini’s Islamic movement was seen as a democratic and spiritual party, which was victimized by the Shah’s governmental apparatuses. This perception considerably contributed to providing a platform for Khomeini’s anti-Semitic and fundamentalist Islamist movement to come to power in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Some analysts and scholars would defend the current political position of the Obama administration— along with Western liberal media and political leaders—by contending that the only 40-year-old history of Iran cannot be compared to the current situation in Egypt, claiming that it is logical that the Western liberal media, political leaders, and Obama administration may have forgotten lessons that Middle Eastern history has given us on Muslim society (and the socio-political and the socio-religious fabric that links it together).

Nevertheless, there is no need for a history lesson to analyze and discover the political truth about the Muslim Brotherhood movement, and its religious and political leaders’ agenda. Immediately after both Mohamed Morsi was elected as president and the Muslim Brotherhood won the majority of the Egyptian parliamentary seats, the organization pushed for an Islamist constitution that worked to centralize power to the Muslim Brotherhood, discriminate against minorities (particularly Christians), amplify gender inequality by the treatment of women as second-class citizens, diminish basic human rights, and lessen the considerable amount of political and economic power that other institutions possessed.

Additionally, Mohamed Morsi granted himself sweeping powers that primarily exempted his decrees from judicial review, until the ratification of a constitution. Even former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, who ruled the country for 30 years, did not possess that same type of unchecked power that Morsi was able to exert.

Millions of protesters marched in the streets against Mohamed Morsi, choosing to occupy the symbolic Tahrir Square for days so as to avoid having a ruling theocratic regime similar to that of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The clerics and Islamists of Iran slowly changed and revised the constitution after taking control through the revolution. The changes included an enforced dress code for women, a ban on drinking alcohol, increased gender segregation, and a ban on communication between opposite sexes, effectively using Sharia law as the legal guidelines of the nation. Just a mere few years after the 1979 Revolution, the Iranian people found themselves under a complete dictatorial, Islamist, and brutal regime.

After the policy changes by the Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed Morsi, millions of Egyptian citizens, ranging from various social groups, demanded that Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces take serious action and remove the Muslim Brotherhood from power. According to Mustapha, a 22-year-old Egyptian engineering student, “this is what the majority of the Egyptian people want. It is not a military coup. These are demands of millions of people in the street.”

Other major grievances addressed by the Egyptian masses protesting in the street were attributed to political and economic woes stemming from the incapability of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood to produce an effective system of governance. Egyptian citizens demanded that the new government be able to adequately address the country’s economic catastrophe, high unemployment rate, fuel shortages, basic food supply issues, dwindling hard currency reserves, and increasing sectarian conflict between the Sunnis and Coptic Christians. In addition, the Egyptian people have repeatedly shown concern about the increasing influence of Morsi’s party and Muslim Brotherhood in different government institutions, as Mohamed Morsi had been criticized for appointing many of the Muslim Brotherhood’s members to high official positions.

Even further, the Muslim Brotherhood leaders have repeatedly, and particularly after losing power and popularity, threatened to endanger Israel’s security by allowing violence to spill over to Tel Aviv through instigating conflict in the Sinai. Recently, suspected Islamist militants ambushed and killed approximately 25 Egyptian police officers in the northern part of Sinai, proof of the plausibility of the threat. While Israel did not have any role in the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood has threatened to take revenge on what their leaders have referred to as the “ Zionist enemy” or the “Zionist and American collaborators,” essentially jeopardizing the peace between Egypt and Israel.  The Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis group, an Islamist- and al-Qaeda-affiliated terror group based in Sinai, has claimed that their “heroes became martyrs during their jihadi duties against the Jews in a rocket attack on occupied lands.”

With the Obama administration and media pushing for the realease of Musim Brotherhood leaders as those who come from a peaceful, victimized, and democratic organization, the need to examine the ideological agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood becomes important.  The revolutionary spirit of the Middle East once brought forth the Islamist party and theocracy that is Iran, and the ruling Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt has revealed a policy of fundamentalism that foreshadows a similar fate.

Majid Rafizadeh


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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Lessons from Syria’s Chemical Weapons Use

by Michael Rubin

The situation is murky, but multiple reports suggest that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on the outskirts of Damascus killing hundreds, if not more than a thousand. Peter Wehner suggests how the fecklessness of President Obama’s foreign policy has exacerbated the situation. After all, Obama made Syrian chemical weapons use a red line in a speech one year ago today, but then ignored his own pronouncements to justify inaction when reports flooded in beginning in December 2012 that the red line had been breached.

A red line ignored is effectively a green light, but the problem does not start and stop with Obama. If there is one overarching lesson to be drawn from the Syrian chemical weapons abuse it is that the red line imposed on radical and rejectionist regimes should be their acquisition of chemical weapons rather than their use. After all, Syria shows that given enough time, ideological and radical regimes will use the capabilities they have, especially when they are challenged by their own people, as they inevitably will be. No autocracy lasts forever.

It has been no secret for years and, indeed, decades that Syria has had a chemical weapons capability. Here, for example, is a 2002 article dealing with Syria’s capabilities. If the Iraq war made preemption a dirty word and the 2002 National Security Strategy of the United States seem destined for the rubbish bin of history, then the events in Syria should spark a reassessment. Sometimes, preempting the ability of a state to acquire the worst weapons is a paramount national and international interest. Let the world condemn Israel for striking Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981, and Syria’s secret nuclear plant in 2007, but frankly the world is much better off with those programs and facilities eradicated.

President Obama and his supporters might now reconsider what the Syria situation means for Iran: Should Iran achieve a nuclear weapons capability or outright an arsenal of nuclear weapons, then the chance exists that at some point in time, a situation could arise in which Iranian ideologues choose to use such weaponry. The debate about a supreme leader’s fatwa against nuclear weapons use should be moot, not only because the fatwa does not exist in writing in Ali Khamenei’s compiled collections of fatwas or in a consistent form, but also because Khamenei or his successor(s) can change their minds. The time to act is before rogues can equip themselves with weapons beyond the pale; not after.
Michael Rubin


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Monday, August 19, 2013

The Kurdish Awakening in Syria: Could It Lead to Regional War?

by Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah

  • After largely sitting on the sidelines of the Syrian revolution, political groups from Syria's Kurdish minority have moved decisively to claim control of Kurdish-populated areas.
  • For the first time in modern Syrian Kurdish history, Kurds have created an exclusively Kurdish-controlled enclave. Kurdish spokesmen have indicated that they are planning to form a provisional Kurdish government due to the absence of any central authority.
  • The Kurds have faced resistance to their new gains from the jihadist groups Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.
  • For the first time since the start of the Syrian civil war, the president of Iraqi Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani, threatened to intervene on behalf of Syrian Kurds. Immediately after Barzani's statement, Iranian Kurds also announced that they were ready for battle.
  • A "Greater Kurdistan" is no longer a remote possibility. This reality poses challenges for all of the states with large Kurdish populations: Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and Iran.

Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, a special analyst for the Middle East at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, was formerly Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence.


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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Report: Iran, Hamas Trying to Sneak Syrian Arms into West Bank

by IPT News

Iran, Syria: Smuggling Weapons to Gain Influence in the West Bank
Palestinian militants in Saair, West Bank, on Feb. 25. (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)


There are growing indications that Iran, Syria and their local proxies may be attempting to build up militant capabilities in the West Bank to eventually threaten Israel. Physically transferring weapons into Fatah-controlled West Bank will remain a key challenge, as recent arrests of weapons smugglers in Jordan have shown. Though Iran and Syria face many constraints in trying to spread militancy to the West Bank, their quiet efforts are worth noting, particularly as Hamas and Iran are now finding reasons to repair their relationship after a period of strain.


In the past several days, Jordanian authorities have reported two separate incidents in which groups of smugglers traveling from Syria have been caught with weapons and drugs in Jordan. A Jordanian security official speaking anonymously to local media said that five Syrian smugglers were caught the morning of Aug. 6 with anti-tank missiles, surface-to-air missiles and assault rifles in their possession. According to a Stratfor source, the arrests were made near Madaba in central Jordan. The smugglers, carrying Jordanian identity cards, allegedly hid the weapons in two pickup trucks loaded with watermelons, but when the two trucks traveled beyond the main produce market and kept heading south, the Jordanian police became suspicious. Jordan's state-owned Petra news agency said the army had thwarted another attempt to smuggle a large amount of drugs and weapons from Syria into Jordan earlier in the week.

Jordan is the primary supply route for weapons (mostly from Arab Gulf suppliers) meant for rebels in southern Syria. Therefore, weapons traveling the opposite direction -- from Syria into Jordan -- stand out. Jordan is already on high alert for attacks, given its own history with jihadist activity and the proliferation of jihadists in neighboring Syria. Moreover, Jordan's attempt to balance between supporting the rebels and maintaining a relationship with the Syrian Alawite regime could make the country vulnerable to attacks by militants on either side of the conflict. Jordanian authorities have thus tried to reinforce security on the Syrian-Jordanian border and have tightly restricted the movement of Syrian refugees in the north around the Al Zaatari camp, where militants could try to blend in with thousands of refugees.

However, Stratfor's own investigation into the latest weapons shipment traveling through Jordan reveals a different target altogether. Contacts in the area claim that the smugglers caught Aug. 6 were Palestinians from Syria who were affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command. The suspects allegedly were carrying weapons obtained from Syrian army warehouses in Sweida in southwest Syria. The weapons were to be transported through Jordan, from the Syrian border southward to Al Karak, to circumvent the large security presence around the Jordan River Valley. The final destination of these weapons, according to the contacts, was intended to be Hebron in the Fatah-run West Bank.

The smuggling operations fit with a pattern that Stratfor identified in November 2012, when Palestinian contacts in the region reported that Iran was working with Palestinian groups to try to transport munitions through Iraq and Jordan to the West Bank. To achieve this, Iran would likely work through Syrian intelligence and local Palestinian proxies. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, the group the smugglers were allegedly affiliated with, has had a close working relationship with Syrian intelligence, and it is plausible that members would have been commissioned to transport the weapons from Syrian warehouses to the West Bank. Though the secular, left-leaning Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command is at ideological odds with Islamist Hamas, those ideological lines can be blurred in such operations, especially when they are undertaken at the behest of the groups' Syrian patrons. Hamas has a limited presence in the West Bank, but it does enjoy support in some of the surrounding villages in the Hebron Hills, where the weapons were likely to be stored.

Iran and Syria's Plans for the West Bank

Both Iran and Syria would like to build up an additional source of militant leverage against Israel. The Iranian regime grew concerned with the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the region that led Hamas to distance itself from the Iran-Syria axis. When the Muslim Brotherhood came to power in Egypt, and when Syrian Islamists were making gains in their rebellion against the al Assad regime, Hamas calculated that in this sectarian environment it was better to align with its ideological allies than to risk alienating itself by maintaining a close relationship with the Syrian and Iranian regimes. As sectarian tensions grew over the Syrian battle of Qusair in the spring, reports began emerging that some Hamas fighters had joined Sunni rebels in Syria against the regime. At that point, Iran had to worry about its leverage weakening among Palestinian proxies in Gaza, Syria and Lebanon, all while Iran's main ally Hezbollah was heavily preoccupied with trying to hold its ground in Lebanon while fighting Sunni rebels in Syria.

But Iran also sought ways to maintain its leverage among the Palestinians. Even as Hamas tried to publicly distance itself from Tehran, it was Iran's supply of long-range Fajr-5 rockets to Hamas that nearly led to an Israeli invasion of Gaza at the end of 2012 and exposed a still robust relationship between the ideologically opposed allies. With Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood politically sidelined, the Egyptian military bearing down on Hamas in the Sinai Peninsula and cutting off the group's supply lines and Syria's Sunni rebels in a stalemate with the regime, Hamas is likely to find even more reason to remain close to Tehran. Iran, meanwhile, is trying to compensate for the sectarian challenges confronting its allies in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq by widening its militant proxy network wherever it can. Part of this strategy involves building up a presence in the West Bank to threaten Israel. This strategy also falls in line with Hamas' interest in undermining Fatah, especially as the Fatah-led Palestinian National Authority engages in more peace negotiations with Israel that fail to acknowledge Hamas' authority in the Gaza Strip.

Challenges to Iran and Syria's Plans

Physically operating in the West Bank is not easy, though. Fatah is the dominant party in the West Bank and controls local security forces, who frequently arrest Hamas members. The Fatah leadership will continue endeavoring to prevent Hamas from making serious inroads in the West Bank that could end up further threatening Fatah's credibility. Moreover, Jordan's increased security presence on the border with Syria, Israeli-Fatah security collaboration and Israel's heavy security presence around the Jordan River Valley also make any route through Jordan highly susceptible to detection, as the recent arrests in Jordan indicate.

These challenges have not deterred Iran and Syria from trying to use their local networks to build up weapon caches in the West Bank so that eventually Palestinian militant factions can try to ambush Israel Defense Forces patrols. The inclusion of anti-tank weapons and man-portable air-defense systems in these weapons shipments to the West Bank would be particularly alarming to Israel. The threat has not yet materialized, but these efforts bear watching closely.

IPT News


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