Category Archives: Cyber-warfare

Hacked e-mails reveal ‘Washington approved’ plan to stage Syria chemical attack

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January 30, 2013

On Saturday, Cyber War News released a cache of e-mails allegedly hacked by someone in Malaysia from a British private defense contractor called Britam Defence.

One of the e-mails contains a discussion between Britam’s Business Development Director David Goulding and Philip Doughty, company founder. In the exchange, it’s revealed that there is a plan to unleash chemical weapons in Syria in order to blame it on the Bashar Al Assad regime to justify a direct intervention by U.S. and NATO forces in the country’s civil war. The plan, thought up by the government of Qatar according to the e-mail, is “approved by Washington.”

Phil

We’ve got a new offer. It’s about Syria again. Qataris propose an attractive deal and swear that the idea is approved by Washington.

We’ll have to deliver a CW (chemical weapon) to Homs, a Soviet origin g-shell from Libya similar to those that Assad should have.

They want us to deploy our Ukrainian personnel that should speak Russian and make a video record.

Frankly, I don’t think it’s a good idea but the sums proposed are enormous. Your opinion?

Kind regards

David

If this e-mail is authentic, it would confirm what has been reported in the past: that the al-Qaida connected Syrian rebels are planning to unleash chemical weapons as a false flag.

In June, Russia Today reported that Syrian rebels had acquired gas masks and chemical weapons from Libya and “allegedly plan to use it against civilians and pin the atrocity on the Bashar al-Assad regime.”

A Saudi company had further allegedly fitted 1,400 ambulances with a filtering system to protect passengers from gas and chemicals after Syrian rebels launch a chemical weapons attack using mortar rounds, all at the cost of $97,000 each. These ambulances, labeled with “Syrian People’s Relief,” would actually be carrying U.S. and NATO troops. According to Paul Joseph Watson:

The attack, which will involve the use of white phosphorus, sarin and mustard gas, will be launched on a heavily populated town near the Syria/Jordan border, possibly Daraa, after which the vehicles will pour in under the cover of humanitarian aid.

The ambulances…will operate under the guise of an aid mission to help the victims of the chemical weapons attack, but in reality are nothing short of armored personnel carriers.

A buffer zone will be created “that will lead to a NATO military intervention under the pretext of punishing Assad’s regime for the atrocity.”

In December, a video was posted online showing a member of the Syrian rebels testing chemicals on rabbits while jihadist chants go on in the background. In the video, containers labeled Tekkim are shown, which is a Turkish chemicals company. On the wall is a poster with Arabic writing on it that reads “The Almighty Wind Brigade (Kateebat A Reeh Al Sarsar),” according to the Syria Tribune.

A person wearing a lab mask then mixes chemicals in a beaker in the glass box, and we see some gas emitting from the beaker. About a minute later, the rabbits start to have random convulsions and then die. The person says: You saw what happened? This will be your fate, you infidel Alawites, I swear by ALLAH to make you die like these rabbits, one minute only after you inhale the gas.

Assad has maintained that he will not use chemical weapons in Syria’s ongoing war. It would seem unlikely that he would, considering that it would put the militaries of most of the world’s powers against him. Further, an official from within the Pentagon told NBC News that there was no evidence that Assad was planning such attacks.

Intervention in Syria is not about protecting civilians. The Assad regime is allied with the Iranian government, and by overthrowing it, the West has an advantage in an attack on the Islamic Republic.

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U.S. anti-war, religious leaders meet with Iranian President Ahmadinejad

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The following article below was originally published by Fight Back! News, the news wing of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization

September 26, 2012

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaking at the 67th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

New York, NY – 150 prominent anti-war activists, religious leaders and supporters of Iran attended a special here on Sept. 25 with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He is in New York to address the opening meeting of the 67th session of the UN General Assembly.

For the past year there have been escalating threats by the U.S. over Iran’s alleged development of nuclear weapons. Many speakers made it clear that Iran has no nuclear weapons and no plan to develop them. In fact, Phil Wilayto, one of the event organizers, said, “Iran has called for a nuclear free Middle East.” Unlike Israel, which has over 150 nuclear weapons, Iran has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and allows inspectors of its nuclear facilities.

According to a number of speakers, the U.S. is already intervening. Economic sanctions are an act of war, according to international law; the U.S. has admitted to carrying out cyber attacks on Iran’s nuclear processing facilities; and to having special operation troops on the ground. As with Libya and Syria, the U.S. is also looking for opposition groups to back inside Iran.

In addition, this past week the U.S. government removed the Mojahedin el Khalk from the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations. It is widely believed that they have carried out assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists.

Ironically, two of the anti-war activists attending the meeting – Joe Iosbaker, a key organizer of the Chicago anti-NATO protest and Sarah Martin, a member of Women Against Military Madness and Freedom Road Socialist Organization – have been targets of a grand jury investigation for allegations of “providing material support to terrorist organizations” in Palestine and Colombia.

‘Terrible time in history of America’

Prominent among guests was Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam. “This is a terrible time in the history of America. America and Israel are pushing this nation to war with Iran over alleged attempts to build weapons of mass destruction.” He warned, “We have to stand against the war mongers.”

Ramsey Clark, who was U.S. Attorney General when the Non-Proliferation Treaty was signed in 1968, said, “The heart of the treaty was for the nuclear powers to eliminate their nuclear weapons.” He concluded, “The nuclear powers failed,” explaining how the U.S. has not lived up to its end of the deal.

Ellie Ommani, of the American Iranian Friendship Committee congratulated Iran “… for successfully hosting the 16th summit of the Non-Aligned movement with 125 nations. This puts to rest the myth of Iran’s isolation.”

Leah Bolger, president of Veterans for Peace, called for the U.S. to, “Remove carrier battle groups armed with nuclear weapons from the region.” In a proposal to President Ahmadinejad, Bolger also called for a delegation of vets to visit Iran.

In closing remarks, President Ahmadinejad said, “The U.S. wants to expand its hegemony over the center of energy. Iran will not allow this.” This brought cheers from the crowd.

Qatar’s Aljazeera propaganda network hacked by pro-Assad Syrians

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By Rania El Gamal and Erika Soloman
September 4, 2012

A still-image of the Aljazeera webpage defaced by pro-Assad Syrian hacktivists.

(Reuters) – The website of Qatar-based satellite news network Al Jazeera was apparently hacked on Tuesday by Syrian government loyalists for what they said was the television channel’s support for the “armed terrorist groups and spreading lies and fabricated news”.

A Syrian flag and statement denouncing Al Jazeera’s “positions against the Syrian people and government” were posted on the Arabic site of the channel in response to its coverage of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad which began in March last year.

Al Jazeera took the lead in covering the uprisings across the Arab world, and Qatar, one of the Sunni-led states in the region, publicly backed the predominantly Sunni rebel movement in Syria against Assad’s Alawite-led government.

Opposition activists on Twitter blamed the hacking on Assad loyalists.

Jazeera officials were not immediately available for comment.

The hacking attack, claimed by a group calling itself “al-Rashedon”, is the latest in a wave of cyber attacks on news agencies and energy companies, carried out by hostile governments, militant groups or private “hacktivists” to make political points.

Last month, Qatar’s Rasgas, the world’s second-biggest liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter, found a virus in its office computer network, just two weeks after the world’s biggest oil producer, Saudi Aramco, in neighbouring Saudi Arabia was hacked into.

The blogging platform of the Reuters News website was also hacked last month and a false posting saying Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal had died was illegally posted on a Reuters journalist’s blog.

Although the identity of those hackers is not known, there is an intensifying conflict in cyberspace between supporters and opponents of Assad. Saudi Arabia has emerged as a staunch opponent of Assad.

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Wanted: An anti-low-intensity warfare movement

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By Stephen Gowans
June 20, 2012

While the United States and its allies warn that a military attack on Iran is an option they won’t rule out, this doesn’t mean that a war on Iran is only a future possibility, not a present reality. The war is underway, and has been for years. “I often get asked when Israel might attack Iran,” says Patrick Clawson, director of the Iran Security Initiative at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “I say, ‘Two years ago.’”

Clawson has a point, but two years is too short. A case can be made that the war has been going on since 1979, when Iranians booted out the US-backed dictator, the Shah, and set out on a path of independent development.

It’s just that in the last decade, the intensity of the war has been ratcheted up.

True, cruise missiles haven’t smashed into downtown Tehran. And Israeli bombers haven’t flown missions to reduce Iranian nuclear sites to rubble, despite Tel Aviv’s incessant threats to do so. But the United States and its allies have:

• Imposed crippling sanctions
• Kept up threats of military intervention
• Used cyber-warfare to cripple Iran’s uranium enrichment program
• Assassinated Iran’s nuclear scientists
• Met with Iranian dissidents to plan covert actions to destabilize the government
• Funded opposition groups
• Financed anti-government media
• Worked to foment a popular revolution under the guise of democracy-promotion
• Created Farsi language satellite television programming to broadcast anti-government propaganda into Iran.

A US military attack on Iran would be “a last option” explained the former US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton. But for the moment, the United States is relying on “economic sanctions and attempts to foment a popular revolution.

Why?

One view is that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, and so must be stopped. Of course, we might question whether it’s legitimate for countries that have nuclear weapons aplenty, Israel included, to demand that no other country challenge their monopoly.

And since many of these countries have threatened Iran militarily on numerous occasions, we might wonder whether Iran should indeed have nuclear weapons to deter the threats.

But lay these considerations aside, for Iran’s leaders say they’re not developing nuclear weapons, and the 16 intelligence agencies that make up the US intelligence community say they believe them. It’s not only the absence of evidence, but also the evidence of absence, that leads the intelligence agencies to this conclusion. There are certain things the Iranians aren’t doing that you would expect them to do if they were developing warheads.

We can also quickly dispense with the canard that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatened to wipe Israel off the map. While war-mongering Machiavellis trot out this myth whenever they wanted to whip up fear of Iran, it has long been disproved. See here.

The likely reasons for the war can be separated into an immediate one and a strategic one. The immediate reason is to prevent Iran from acquiring the capability of building nuclear weapons. The strategic reason is to recover Iran as a US sphere of influence. The latter means replacing the current regime, committed to Iran’s independent development, with a government amenable to Iran’s economic domination by the United States and integration into the US military machine. Since a nuclear-armed Iran would be better able to resist US pressure to kow-tow to Washington and Wall Street, it must be denied even the threat of (nuclear) self-defence.

The recent talks between Iran and the P5+1 group (US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany) on Iran’s nuclear program broke down because the two sides are completely at odds. Iran wants the big powers to acknowledge its right to enrich uranium. The big powers want to deny Iran the right. And so economic sanctions—which have already driven consumer prices up by 40 percent, cut the value of Iran’s currency in half, and led to the lay-off of 100,000 factory workers this year—will be ratcheted up.

The style of war the US and its allies is waging against Iran is hardly new. The United States has conducted “low-intensity” warfare against other countries outside its sphere of domination before. North Korea and Cuba have been the targets of this style of warfare for decades. Low-intensity wars mobilize:

• Economic sanctions
• Funding and support for a political opposition and overthrow movements
• Broadcasting anti-government propaganda
• Sabotage
• Assassinations
• Threats of military intervention

Here’s how it works: Economic sanctions cripple the economy. Standards of living plummet. To counter threats of military intervention, the besieged country spends more on defence. This, in turn, exacerbates the country’s economic troubles.

Economic difficulties create popular discontent. The West’s anti-government propaganda, which blames the slumping economy on the government’s “mismanagement”, inflames discontent and strengthens opposition. The Western-aided political opposition channels the discontent into demands for the government to step down.

To survive, the government curtails civil and political liberties. And this, plus the sanctions-induced economic crisis, provides the West with pretexts for continued low-intensity warfare.

Low-intensity warfare doesn’t inspire anti-war movements. Hot wars do. This is a shame, because politically their effects are the same. And sanctions—as should now be evident from the hundreds of thousands, if not more than one million sanctions-related deaths in Iraq, and the sanctions-driven collapse of North Korea’s healthcare system—can have more devastating consequences than the hot wars anti-war movements have traditionally opposed.

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Obama ordered wave of cyber attacks against Iran

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By David E. Sanger
June 1, 2012

WASHINGTON — From his first months in office, President Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America’s first sustained use of cyberweapons, according to participants in the program.

Mr. Obama decided to accelerate the attacks — begun in the Bush administration and code-named Olympic Games — even after an element of the program accidentally became public in the summer of 2010 because of a programming error that allowed it to escape Iran’s Natanz plant and sent it around the world on the Internet. Computer security experts who began studying the worm, which had been developed by the United States and Israel, gave it a name: Stuxnet.

At a tense meeting in the White House Situation Room within days of the worm’s “escape,” Mr. Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency at the time, Leon E. Panetta, considered whether America’s most ambitious attempt to slow the progress of Iran’s nuclear efforts had been fatally compromised.

“Should we shut this thing down?” Mr. Obama asked, according to members of the president’s national security team who were in the room.

Told it was unclear how much the Iranians knew about the code, and offered evidence that it was still causing havoc, Mr. Obama decided that the cyberattacks should proceed. In the following weeks, the Natanz plant was hit by a newer version of the computer worm, and then another after that. The last of that series of attacks, a few weeks after Stuxnet was detected around the world, temporarily took out nearly 1,000 of the 5,000 centrifuges Iran had spinning at the time to purify uranium.

This account of the American and Israeli effort to undermine the Iranian nuclear program is based on interviews over the past 18 months with current and former American, European and Israeli officials involved in the program, as well as a range of outside experts. None would allow their names to be used because the effort remains highly classified, and parts of it continue to this day.

These officials gave differing assessments of how successful the sabotage program was in slowing Iran’s progress toward developing the ability to build nuclear weapons. Internal Obama administration estimates say the effort was set back by 18 months to two years, but some experts inside and outside the government are more skeptical, noting that Iran’s enrichment levels have steadily recovered, giving the country enough fuel today for five or more weapons, with additional enrichment.

Whether Iran is still trying to design and build a weapon is in dispute. The most recent United States intelligence estimate concludes that Iran suspended major parts of its weaponization effort after 2003, though there is evidence that some remnants of it continue.

Iran initially denied that its enrichment facilities had been hit by Stuxnet, then said it had found the worm and contained it. Last year, the nation announced that it had begun its own military cyberunit, and Brig. Gen. Gholamreza Jalali, the head of Iran’s Passive Defense Organization, said that the Iranian military was prepared “to fight our enemies” in “cyberspace and Internet warfare.” But there has been scant evidence that it has begun to strike back.

The United States government only recently acknowledged developing cyberweapons, and it has never admitted using them. There have been reports of one-time attacks against personal computers used by members of Al Qaeda, and of contemplated attacks against the computers that run air defense systems, including during the NATO-led air attack on Libya last year. But Olympic Games was of an entirely different type and sophistication.

It appears to be the first time the United States has repeatedly used cyberweapons to cripple another country’s infrastructure, achieving, with computer code, what until then could be accomplished only by bombing a country or sending in agents to plant explosives. The code itself is 50 times as big as the typical computer worm, Carey Nachenberg, a vice president of Symantec, one of the many groups that have dissected the code, said at a symposium at Stanford University in April. Those forensic investigations into the inner workings of the code, while picking apart how it worked, came to no conclusions about who was responsible.

A similar process is now under way to figure out the origins of another cyberweapon called Flame that was recently discovered to have attacked the computers of Iranian officials, sweeping up information from those machines. But the computer code appears to be at least five years old, and American officials say that it was not part of Olympic Games. They have declined to say whether the United States was responsible for the Flame attack.

Mr. Obama, according to participants in the many Situation Room meetings on Olympic Games, was acutely aware that with every attack he was pushing the United States into new territory, much as his predecessors had with the first use of atomic weapons in the 1940s, of intercontinental missiles in the 1950s and of drones in the past decade. He repeatedly expressed concerns that any American acknowledgment that it was using cyberweapons — even under the most careful and limited circumstances — could enable other countries, terrorists or hackers to justify their own attacks.

“We discussed the irony, more than once,” one of his aides said. Another said that the administration was resistant to developing a “grand theory for a weapon whose possibilities they were still discovering.” Yet Mr. Obama concluded that when it came to stopping Iran, the United States had no other choice.

If Olympic Games failed, he told aides, there would be no time for sanctions and diplomacy with Iran to work. Israel could carry out a conventional military attack, prompting a conflict that could spread throughout the region.

A Bush Initiative

The impetus for Olympic Games dates from 2006, when President George W. Bush saw few good options in dealing with Iran. At the time, America’s European allies were divided about the cost that imposing sanctions on Iran would have on their own economies. Having falsely accused Saddam Hussein of reconstituting his nuclear program in Iraq, Mr. Bush had little credibility in publicly discussing another nation’s nuclear ambitions. The Iranians seemed to sense his vulnerability, and, frustrated by negotiations, they resumed enriching uranium at an underground site at Natanz, one whose existence had been exposed just three years before.

Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, took reporters on a tour of the plant and described grand ambitions to install upward of 50,000 centrifuges. For a country with only one nuclear power reactor — whose fuel comes from Russia — to say that it needed fuel for its civilian nuclear program seemed dubious to Bush administration officials. They feared that the fuel could be used in another way besides providing power: to create a stockpile that could later be enriched to bomb-grade material if the Iranians made a political decision to do so.

Hawks in the Bush administration like Vice President Dick Cheney urged Mr. Bush to consider a military strike against the Iranian nuclear facilities before they could produce fuel suitable for a weapon. Several times, the administration reviewed military options and concluded that they would only further inflame a region already at war, and would have uncertain results.

For years the C.I.A. had introduced faulty parts and designs into Iran’s systems — even tinkering with imported power supplies so that they would blow up — but the sabotage had had relatively little effect. General James E. Cartwright, who had established a small cyberoperation inside the United States Strategic Command, which is responsible for many of America’s nuclear forces, joined intelligence officials in presenting a radical new idea to Mr. Bush and his national security team. It involved a far more sophisticated cyberweapon than the United States had designed before.

The goal was to gain access to the Natanz plant’s industrial computer controls. That required leaping the electronic moat that cut the Natanz plant off from the Internet — called the air gap, because it physically separates the facility from the outside world. The computer code would invade the specialized computers that command the centrifuges.

The first stage in the effort was to develop a bit of computer code called a beacon that could be inserted into the computers, which were made by the German company Siemens and an Iranian manufacturer, to map their operations. The idea was to draw the equivalent of an electrical blueprint of the Natanz plant, to understand how the computers control the giant silvery centrifuges that spin at tremendous speeds. The connections were complex, and unless every circuit was understood, efforts to seize control of the centrifuges could fail.

Eventually the beacon would have to “phone home” — literally send a message back to the headquarters of the National Security Agency that would describe the structure and daily rhythms of the enrichment plant. Expectations for the plan were low; one participant said the goal was simply to “throw a little sand in the gears” and buy some time. Mr. Bush was skeptical, but lacking other options, he authorized the effort.

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