Iran’s Revolutionary Guard hacks into US gov’t e-mail accounts

The United States has detected an increase in hacking attacks in recent weeks by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC ) on email and social-media accounts belonging to officials in the Obama administration officials in recent weeks, U.S. officials said. According to the Washington Post, the attacks are believed to be connected to the arrest of an Iranian-American businessman in Tehran at the end of October.

It is not the first occurrence of cyberwarfare against American accounts by the IRGC. They have been known for routinely hacking American government agencies for years. US officials have noted that a recent increase in attacks began at the same time that American-Iranian Siamak Namazi was arrested.

According to the officials, attacks within the administration included officials working at the State Department’s Office of Iranian Affairs and its Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.

“U.S. officials were among many who were targeted by recent cyberattacks,” said an administration official. “U.S. officials believe some of the more recent attacks may be linked to reports of detained dual citizens and others.” The official added that the U.S. is continuing to investigate possible links to the Namazi case.

In addition to administration officials, journalists and academics have also been targeted, said the Washington Post.

Namazi is a Dubai-based energy industry executive and business consultant who has pushed for stronger U.S.-Iranian economic and diplomatic ties.

Three Americans, all of them of Iranian heritage, were already in jail in Iran including Jason Rezaian, a correspondent for the Washington Post who was arrested in July 2014 and accused of spying.

The others are Amir Hekmati, a former US Marine who was charged with spying, and Saeed Abedini, a convert to Christianity who gathered a Bible study group.

An unnamed American businessman was reported arrested by the IranWire website on October 15, and Namazi was afterwards named in tweets by Iranian-Americans, the Washington Post said.

While the West had hopes that signing of the landmark nuclear deal would pave the way for strengthening ties with Iran, Tehran has showed signs that it has changed neither its policies nor its rhetoric towards America.

Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei has endorsed the nuclear deal, which curbs Iran’s atomic drive in return for a lifting of sanctions, but has repeatedly warned against US “infiltration” of the values of Iranian society.

Chanting “Death to America” and burning the US flag, Iranian protesters Wednesday marked the anniversary of the US embassy seizure with a show of anti-Washington fervor despite the nuclear deal.

The 1979 storming of the embassy in Tehran by students, months after the Islamic revolution, led to a 444-day hostage crisis and a break in diplomatic relations that continues to this day.