By Kayhan Life Staff
On Nov. 4, the U.S. Department of Justice seized 24 domain names reportedly linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
“The United States has seized 27 domain names that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) unlawfully used to further a global covert influence campaign,” a press release by the U.S. Justice Department said. “The action follows last month’s seizure of 92 IRGC domains.”
“As described in the seizure documents, all 27 domains were being used in violation of U.S. sanctions targeting both the Government of Iran and the IRGC. Four of the domains purported to be genuine news outlets but were controlled by the IRGC and targeted audiences in the U.S., to covertly influence United States policy and public opinion, in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA),” the press release explained. “The remainder targeted audiences in other parts of the world. This seizure warrant follows an earlier seizure of 92 domains used by the IRGC for similar purposes.”
The press release included comments by Assistant Attorney General for National security, John C. Demers, who said: “Within the last month we have announced seizures of Iran’s weapons, fuel, and covert influence infrastructure. As long as Iran’s leaders are trying to destabilize the world through the state sponsorship of terrorism and the taking of hostages, we will continue to enforce U.S. sanctions and take other legal steps to counter them.”
“Today’s 29 seizures are another important step against Iran’s worldwide disinformation campaign,” U.S. Attorney Anderson was quoted by the press release as saying. “This work will continue. We cannot allow Iran’s attachment to fake news to overtake our commitment to the rule of law.”
The press release also included comments by FBI Special Agent in Charge Craig D. Fair, who noted: “The FBI is aggressively investigating any evidence of foreign influence and the unlawful spread of disinformation by hostile nations. Today, we seized 27 additional domains that Iran’s IRGC was illegally using in an attempt to manipulate public opinion in other countries, including the United States. Thanks to our ongoing collaboration with Google, Facebook, and Twitter, the FBI was able to disrupt this Iranian propaganda campaign, and we will continue to pursue any attempts by foreign actors to spread disinformation in our country.”
On Nov. 5, the Farsi-language U.S. government Twitter account, @USAdarFarsi, said: “Another failed attempt by @khamenei_ir and its cyber-thugs to undermine our democracy. The U.S. seized 27 domain names linked to the IRGC, which were operating secretly and illegally.”
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, some of the domains were ostensibly legitimate Arabic and Farsi-language news websites, whose real aim was to disseminate misinformation among the American public. Some of the websites distributed anti-Saudi, Israeli, and U.S. propaganda.
“Four of the 27 domain names, ‘rpfront.com,’ ‘ahtribune.com,’ ‘awdnews.com,’ and ‘criticalstudies.org,’ were also seized pursuant to FARA,” the press release noted. “The four domains purported to be independent news outlets, but they were operated by or on behalf of the IRGC to target the United States with pro-Iranian propaganda in an attempt to covertly influence the American people to change United States policy concerning Iran and the Middle East.”
“These domains targeted a United States audience without proper registration pursuant to FARA and without notifying the American public with a conspicuous label that the content of the domains was being published on behalf of foreign principals, the IRGC and the Government of Iran,” the press release added.
In an earlier press release, the U.S. Department of Justice said it had seized 92 domain names linked to the IRGC.
“The United States has seized 92 domain names that were unlawfully used by Iran’s IRGC to engage in a global disinformation campaign,” the press release said on Oct. 8. “According to the seizure documents, four of the domains purported to be genuine news outlets but were controlled by the IRGC and targeted the U.S. for the spread of Iranian propaganda to influence United States domestic and foreign policy in violation of the FARA, and the remainder spread Iranian propaganda to other parts of the world.”
“In addition, the seizure documents describe how all 92 domains were being used in violation of U.S. sanctions targeting both the Government of Iran and the IRGC,” the press release noted. “The seizure documents describe how the 92 seized domain names were being operated in violation of federal law. Four of the domain names, ‘newsstand7.com,’ ‘usjournal.net,’ ‘usjournal.us,’ and ‘twtoday.net,’ were seized pursuant to FARA.”
“In addition, the remaining 88 domains targeted audiences in Western Europe, the Middle East, and South East Asia and masqueraded as genuine news outlets while being operated by the IRGC to spread pro-Iranian disinformation around the globe to the benefit of the Government of Iran,” the press release added.
“The 27 sites, with names including jordan-times.com, yemenpress.org, and criticalstudies.org, appear to recycle articles and claim them as their own,” Bloomberg. reported on Nov. 5. “For example, criticalstudies.org claimed U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders was among its ‘writers,’ but the article supposedly was written by Sanders was cut and pasted from an op-ed he had written in USA Today in 2018.”