Exclusive: Iran-based political influence operation - bigger,...
An apparent Iranian influence campaign is bigger than previously reported:
An apparent Iranian influence operation targeting internet users worldwide is significantly bigger than previously identified, Reuters has found, encompassing a sprawling network of anonymous websites and social media accounts in 11 different languages.
FaceAche and others saying multiple accounts and websites are apparently part of the project. A Reuters investigation has found ten more sites and dozens of social media accounts on FB, Instagram, Tw@tter etc.
Facebook and other companies said last week that multiple social media accounts and websites were part of an Iranian project to covertly influence public opinion in other countries. A Reuters analysis has identified 10 more sites and dozens of social media accounts across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

U.S.-based cyber security firm FireEye Inc and Israeli firm ClearSky reviewed Reuters’ findings and said technical indicators showed the web of newly-identified sites and social media accounts - called the International Union of Virtual Media, or IUVM - was a piece of the same campaign, parts of which were taken down last week by Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc.
The International Union of Virtual Media (IUVM) has pushed pro Iranian stories which originate from PressTV, FARS news agency and al-Manar TV run by Hezbollah:
IUVM pushes content from Iranian state media and other outlets aligned with the government in Tehran across the internet, often obscuring the original source of the information such as Iran’s PressTV, FARS news agency and al-Manar TV run by the Iran-backed Shi’ite Muslim group Hezbollah.

PressTV, FARS, al-Manar TV and representatives for the Iranian government did not respond to requests for comment. The Iranian mission to the United Nations last week dismissed accusations of an Iranian influence campaign as “ridiculous.”
A Snr Fellow from the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research who has analysed previous DisInfo campaigns for FB said “It’s a large-scale amplifier for Iranian state messaging,”.

It’s a quantity not quality campaign and remained undetected for years:
Ben Nimmo, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab who has previously analyzed disinformation campaigns for Facebook, said the IUVM network displayed the extent and scale of the Iranian operation.

“It’s a large-scale amplifier for Iranian state messaging,” Nimmo said. “This shows how easy it is to run an influence operation online, even when the level of skill is low. The Iranian operation relied on quantity, not quality, but it stayed undetected for years.”
FB say they’re still investigating accounts and pages linked to Iran:
Facebook spokesman Jay Nancarrow said the company is still investigating accounts and pages linked to Iran and had taken more down on Tuesday.

“This is an ongoing investigation and we will continue to find out more,” he said. “We’re also glad to see that the information we and others shared last week has prompted additional attention on this kind of inauthentic behavior.”
Twitter referred to an earlier announcement. They’ve suspended 770 accounts:
Twitter referred to a statement it tweeted on Monday shortly after receiving a request for comment from Reuters. The statement said the company had removed a further 486 accounts for violating its terms of use since last week, bringing the total number of suspended accounts to 770.

“Fewer than 100 of the 770 suspended accounts claimed to be located in the U.S. and many of these were sharing divisive social commentary,” Twitter said.
Google declined to comment, but took down the IUVM YouTube account:
Google declined to comment but took down the IUVM TV YouTube account after Reuters contacted the company with questions about it. A message on the page on Tuesday said the account had been “terminated for a violation of YouTube’s Terms of Service.”
IUVM haven’t commented, but their website does say it’s HQ is in Tehran and their objectives include "confronting with remarkable arrogance, western governments and Zionism front activities.":
IUVM did not respond to multiple emails or social media messages requesting comment.

The organization does not conceal its aims, however. Documents on the main IUVM website said its headquarters are in Tehran and its objectives include "confronting with remarkable arrogance, western governments and Zionism front activities."
They’re pushing their message which includes a hub of satirical cartoons against Israel and KSA. It’s in multiple languages such as English, French, Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Pashto, Russian, Hindi, Azerbaijani, Turkish and Spanish:
IUVM uses its network of websites - including a YouTube channel, breaking news service, mobile phone app store, and a hub for satirical cartoons mocking Israel and Iran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia - to distribute content taken from Iranian state media and other outlets which support Tehran’s position on geopolitical issues.

Reuters recorded the IUVM network operating in English, French, Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Pashto, Russian, Hindi, Azerbaijani, Turkish and Spanish.
The breathtaking unveiling of Iran’s latest ‘indigenous’ fighter is hugely awe-inspiring.

But at :30 secs in the true secret weapon can be see perched on the head of the General beside Rouhani. Unlike any other, this top secret design one again demonstrates the seriousness of Iran’s military might.

This follows the last massively impressive ‘Stealth Fighter that was recently shown.

The US must be trembling in the face of such advances in Iranian Military technology. One only has to see the massive advances in (stealth hats) between the launch of these revolutionary new shapes to realise the dangers posed.

It will be hard to imagine what shape the next one will be.
Tehran has now threatened to take military action in the Gulf to block other countries' oil exports if Mr Trump does not back down. Be interesting to see what various countries will do if that does take place.

Last time a US flagged vessel was damaged by the Iranians there were consequences.

Iran seems ready to try it again.
IRAN V US: Rouhani 'will defeat anti-Iran' White House officials as tensions peak
Iran WILL strike Israel and US allies if Trump attacks, warns cleric

At this time it would seem that internal pressures are driving Iranian leadership to seek external distractions.
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Exclusive: Iran moves missiles to Iraq in warning to enemies
Iran has been shipping some of its missiles to Shi’ite Militias and Quds Force (IRGC abroad) in Iraq:
Iran has given ballistic missiles to Shi’ite proxies in Iraq and is developing the capacity to build more there to deter attacks on its interests in the Middle East and to give it the means to hit regional foes, Iranian, Iraqi and Western sources said.
The idea is to have the (couple of dozen) missiles based within range of US assets, KSA and Israel of course if Iran is attacked:
“The logic was to have a backup plan if Iran was attacked,” one senior Iranian official told Reuters. “The number of missiles is not high, just a couple of dozen, but it can be increased if necessary.”

Iran has previously said its ballistic missile activities are purely defensive in nature. Iranian officials declined to comment when asked about the latest moves.
The missiles sent have a range between 200 and 700km and have been sent to the Quds Force run by Soleimani who have bases in the area:
The Zelzal, Fateh-110 and Zolfaqar missiles in question have ranges of about 200 km to 700 km, putting Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh or the Israeli city of Tel Aviv within striking distance if the weapons were deployed in southern or western Iraq.

The Quds Force, the overseas arm of Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has bases in both those areas. Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani is overseeing the program, three of the sources said.
The 2015 agreement doesn’t include ballistic missiles and is one of the concerns over the deal as Iran says they cannot carry nukes or other CBRN. France is trying to raise this issue with Iran who is declining to talk about it.
Iran is complying with nuclear deal restrictions: IAEA report
IAEA say Iran is still complying with the 2015 deals remit:
It said the Vienna-based U.N. nuclear watchdog was able to carry out all so-called complementary access inspections needed to verify Iran’s compliance with the deal.

“Timely and proactive cooperation by Iran in providing such access facilitates implementation of the Additional Protocol and enhances confidence,” said the report, which was distributed to IAEA member states.

“The production rate (of enriched uranium) is constant. There is no change whatsoever,” a senior diplomat added
E2A: Iran rejects Reuters report that Tehran has moved missiles to Iraq
Iran denies the missile move:
“Such false and ridiculous news have no purpose other than affecting Iran’s foreign relations, especially with its neighbors,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said, according to IRNA.

Iranian, Iraqi and Western sources have told Reuters that Iran has given ballistic missiles to Shi’ite proxies in Iraq and is developing the capacity to build more there.

“This news is solely aimed at creating fears in the countries of the region,” Qassemi added.
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Of course it denies moving missile to Iraq or indeed to Lebanon and to the Hizbollah.

The Israeli’s have been attacking fictitious facilities in Syria that had nothing to do with Iran the Revolutionary Guards or Quds.

With regard to the swarm boats in and around Hormuz. Laser weapons are presently being developed to deal with them but in the meantime...
Iranian Guards claims missile attack on Iraq-based Kurd dissidents
IRGC have been firing rockets with a drone spotter at Kurdish opposition in Iraq. The reason being “group leaders to ignore serious warnings by officials of the Kurdistan Regional Government about Iran’s determination to dismantle their bases ... and the need for an end to terrorist and aggressive actions against Iran”:
“In a successful operation, the Guards’ aerospace unit, along with the army’s drone unit ... targeted a criminal group’s meeting and a terrorist training center with seven short-range surface-to-surface missiles,” the Revolutionary Guards said in a statement carried by the semi-official news agency Fars.
Iran executes three Kurdish prisoners accused of militant attacks
Iran has executed three Kurdish prisoners accused of ‘belonging to a militant group and taking part in attacks against civilians and security forces in the Kurdish region of western Iran’
Khamenei urges Iran's military to 'scare off' enemy: official website
Meanwhile Khamenei urges Iran’s armed forces to increase their power and ‘scare off the enemy’
“Increase your power as much as you can, because your power scares off the enemy and forces it to retreat,” the website quoted Khamenei as saying at a graduation ceremony for cadets of Iran’s regular armed forces.

“Iran and the Iranian nation have resisted America and proven that, if a nation is not afraid of threats by bullies and relies on its own capabilities, it can force the superpowers to retreat and defeat them,” Khamenei said.
Rouhani: U.S. asks Iran 'every day' to begin talks
According to Rouhani, the US ask every day for them to enter into negotiations:
“From one side they try to pressure the people of Iran, on another side they send us messages every day through various methods that we should come and negotiate together,” Rouhani said in a speech broadcast on Iranian state television.

“(They say) we should negotiate here, we should negotiate there. We want to resolve the issues ... Should we see your message? ... Or should we see your brutish actions?”
Iranian ForMin talks about ‘Trump regime flip flops’ over their support for wars abroad but not supporting the Palestinians enough. US sanctions on their oil sector are due to be reimposed in November:
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif took aim at U.S. criticism of Iran’s regional policy in a Twitter post on Saturday.

“Trump regime flip-flops are truly comical,” he wrote. “One week, its talking point is that we are ‘squandering’ our resources abroad, the next week it’s that we’ve not financially supported the Palestinians enough.”

U.S. sanctions targeting Iran’s oil sector are scheduled to be reimposed in November.
Rouhani reiterating Iran is facing an “economic, psychological and propaganda war”:
Iran is facing an “economic, psychological and propaganda war”, Rouhani said Saturday, pointing to the United States and Israel as the Islamic Republic’s main enemies.
Khomenei saying Russia and Iran can together restrain America ”Because America is a danger for humanity and there is a possibility to restrain them.”:
“One of the issues that the two sides can cooperate on is restraining America,” Khamenei said. “Because America is a danger for humanity and there is a possibility to restrain them.”
Breaking news of shootings at a military parade in the South West, where there were anti government protests a few weeks ago.
They were Western backed of course.

However I suppose that is par for the course, our boogey men are either from "the East" or muslim zealots.

It is a bit brazen if the recent unrest has gone kinetic, but I cannot help but think how nice Iran seemed prior to the Mullah, if I were living there, I would want to party at the beach, drink and have casual sex.

Surely there will be a time when modern Iranians will shed blood to rid the religious scum that oppress them.
I know a few Iranians living around London, and they're never going home whilst the Mullahs are in charge

Except they call themselves Persians, they don't like to be called Iranians
They were Western backed of course.
Slightly alarmingly the blame was spread quite wide.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the attack was linked to the United States' "allies in the region".

"This crime is a continuation of the plots of the regional states that are puppets of the United States, and their goal is to create insecurity in our dear country," Khamenei said in a statement.

He did not name the states, but US allies in the region include Iran's regional rival Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

On Twitter, Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif also pointed a finger at a "foreign regime" without elaborating.
Iran's Revolutionary Guards targeted in Ahvaz military parade

So with alleged proxy wars in Syria and Yemen, plus the apparently intractable confrontation with Qatar, the Middle East is shaping up a bit like Europe in 1914.
What a wretched part of the Planet anyway, hopefully they will point all their weapons inwards and send themselves back to the dark ages.
Irans present difficulties are not leading to a happy population. The recent attack on a military parade is now seeing Iran blaming various Western countries...and of course the Great Satan USA for sheltering the perpetrators.

Iran’s president has accused an unnamed U.S.-allied country in the Persian Gulf of being behind a terror attack on a military parade that killed 25 people and wounded 60.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry has summoned Western diplomats blaming them for providing shelter for Arab separatists who have claimed responsibility for the attacks in Ahvaz.

Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard has promised retaliation as the country faces turmoil after Trump pulled out of Tehran’s nuclear deal with other countries.
Iran says response to terrorist attack on military parade will be 'crushing'
Furious Iran summons British diplomats after 25 slaughtered in military parade terror

When in domestic problems, find an external source for the people to focus their anger on.
The following is a rather interesting analysis of the recent attack by terrorists in Iran.
Opinion | Weekend attack in Iran could be the first shots in a new Gulf War

There is some question as to whether the terrorists were backed by IS or by Ahvaz National Resistance (ANR). Both have claimed responsibility.
The men who carried out Saturday's attack on the parade in Ahvaz, in Iran's southwestern province of Khuzestan, were well trained: four of them killed 25 people and wounded 70 others before they were shot dead. The question is whether they were trained by "Islamic State" or by the backers of the low-profile Ahvaz National Resistance, which also claimed credit for the attack.
IS hate Shias as a matter of principle, so their motive is clear.
Islamic State is an independent ultra-extremist Sunni Muslim movement that kills Shias (most Iranians are Shia) on principle, so there are no big political implications if it was IS that planned the attack.
If it was the ANR however, then it would be the opening shots in a new Gulf war. The ANR are backed by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrein.
If it was the Ahvaz National Resistance, however, then these were the opening shots in the Fourth Gulf War, because the ANR is backed by Saudi Arabia and its smaller Arab allies like the United Arab Emirates and Bahrein.
Iran are convinced it is the ANR.
Iran is convinced that it was the latter. "It is absolutely clear to us who committed this crime ... and whom they are linked to," said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. "The small [Arab] puppet countries in the region are backed by America, and the U.S. is provoking them and giving them the necessary capabilities."
There is reason to believe that it was the ANR. The Gulf Arabs talk of war with Iran as being inevitable, and a close associate of Trump recently said that the US intends to overthrow Iran sometime soon.
There is reason to suspect that this is true. The Arab countries of the Gulf are smaller and weaker than Iran, and have talked themselves into the paranoid conviction that Iran intends to destroy them, perhaps even to replace Sunni with Shia Islam. They talk of war with Iran as inevitable, and dream of drawing America into such a war to even up the odds.

U.S. President Donald Trump is also paranoid about Iran, and openly talks about overthrowing the Iranian regime. Indeed his personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, boasted on Saturday that U.S. sanctions are really hurting Iran: "I don't know when we're going to overthrow them. It could be in a few days, months, a couple of years. But it's going to happen."
However, there first has to be some Iranian action that provided justification for the US and the Gulf Arabs attacking Iran.
But first there has to be a spark, some Iranian action that gives both Trump and the Arab Gulf states a pretext for attacking Iran — for they both think in terms of attacking Iran first, not of defending against a (highly improbable) Iranian attack.
Crown Prince Salman of Saudi Arabia said that Saudi Arabia will arrange that the upcoming war is fought on Iranian soil.
Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, said last year that "we won't wait for the battle to be in Saudi Arabia. Instead, we will work so that the battle is for them in Iran."
To provide the justification however, Iran has to be provoked into doing something stupid.
If they get their war, both leaders expect that most of the heavy lifting will be done by the U.S. air force, but something bad has to happen on the ground first. Iran has to do something stupid.
An obvious way of doing that is to support separatists movements in minority areas of Iran, and then get the Iranian government to overreact against them and then use that as justification for an Arab-US attack on Iran.
How do you get it to do something stupid? Well, you could try supporting separatist movements in the various ethnic minority areas that ring the country: Arabs in the southwest, Kurds in the northwest, Turkmen in the northeast and Baloch in the southeast. With luck, the Iranian regime will overreact and massacre enough of the separatists (and innocent bystanders) to provide the pretext for an Arab-U.S. attack.
After Saturday's attack, a prominent UAE scholar said that the attack was part of a plan for "moving the battle to the Iranian side", and predicted that such attacks will increase in the next phase.
After Saturday's attack in Ahvaz, Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a prominent United Arab Emirates scholar who tends to say what other people don't dare, tweeted that the attack wasn't really a terrorist incident at all. He pointed out that "moving the battle to the Iranian side is a declared option," and predicted that the number of such attacks "will increase during the next phase."
This seems to be the Abdulkhaleq Abdulla mentioned in the above news story.
UAE detains prominent political scientist Dr. Abdulkhaleq Abdulla
And he is apparently no fan of Iran, advocating that they need to be taken down a peg.
Time for a firm approach to downsize Iran

It's hard to say whether Abdulla is right that the Gulf Arab states, with a nudge and a wink from the US, are backing terrorist attacks in Iran in an attempt to goad Iran into doing something to justify a war, or whether he is just engaged in wishful thinking.

However, it is certainly an interesting point of view and something to keep an eye out for in future.
The following news story was also posted on the Syria thread, but I will talk about the non-Syrian related implications here.
Iran fires missiles into eastern Syria to retaliate against parade attack | CBC News

Long story short, the Iranians conducted a missile strike on IS targets in eastern Syria in retaliation for an attack on a military parade in Iran.
Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard launched six ballistic missiles early Monday toward eastern Syria, targeting militants it blamed for an attack on a military parade in Iran last month ...
This was accompanied by their usual bragging about how great they are.
"This is the roaring of missiles belonging to the Revolutionary Guard of the Islamic Revolution," the state TV's reporter said as the missiles launched behind him. "In a few minutes, the world of arrogance — especially America, the [Israeli] Zionist regime and the Al Saud — will hear the sound of Iran's repeated blows." Al Saud is a reference to Saudi Arabia's royal family.
However, Iran had previously accused Saudi Arabia and the UAE of being behind the attack on Iran. Both have denied this, but see the previous post with respect to how this may in fact be plausible.
Iran's supreme leader has called out Saudi Arabia and the UAE by name, accusing them of being behind the Sept. 22 attack on the parade in the Iranian city of Ahvaz, something denied by both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.
However, the news story suggests that the missile strike may also be intended for Saudi Arabia and the UAE to take note of what Iran can do, and to back off from any aggressive intent.
The strike may have been for an entirely different audience, however.
One missile shown on Iranian state television bore the slogans "Death to America, Death to Israel, Death to Al Saud," referring to Saudi Arabia's ruling family.
This is the third time in roughly a year that Iran has conducted missile strikes, having previously attacked both IS and Kurdish targets.
This is the third time in about a year that Iran has fired its ballistic missiles in anger.
Last year, Iran fired ballistic missiles into Syria over a bloody ISIS attack on Tehran targeting parliament and the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In September, Iran fired missiles into Iraq targeting a base of an Iranian Kurdish separatist group. The separatists say that strike killed at least 15 people and wounded over 50.
France seizes Iranian assets in retaliation for bomb plot | Reuters
Iran is looking to Europe and elsewhere to keep (what's left of) the JCPOA alive. However, they're also keeping up with dealing with dissidents to how the nation is currently acting. In France, a plot to attack a dissident rally has seemingly been uncovered including input from the Iranian Security Services. The latter have had assets frozen along with two individuals:
France seized assets belonging to Iran’s intelligence services and two Iranian nationals in response to a June plot to attack an exiled Iranian opposition group’s rally outside Paris, the government said on Tuesday.

A senior French official said Paris had no doubt that elements of the Iranian state were behind the bomb plot and that it was likely to have been hatched by hardliners looking to undermine President Hassan Rouhani.
The Iranian Embassy has refused to comment. Nothing from Tehran yet:
“An attempted attack in Villepinte was foiled on June 30. An incident of such gravity on our national territory could not go unpunished,” said a joint statement by the foreign, interior and economy ministries.

Asked for reaction, a spokesman at the Iranian Embassy in Paris replied simply: “Hello. Thank you.” There was no immediate response to the French move from Tehran.

The plot targetted a meeting of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) outside the French capital. U.S. President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and several former European and Arab ministers attended the rally.
An interesting development, given the ongoing confrontational relationship the US has with the UN.

'The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has issued an interim order to the US to lift sanctions on Iran that concern humanitarian aid and civil aviation. Iran filed a lawsuit at The Hague-based UN court in July, arguing that US sanctions contravene a decades-old bilateral treaty and are destroying the national economy and currency.'

UN court orders US to lift Iran sanctions
With regard to Iran’s threats to close the Hormuz Straits the US response was pretty immediate. A war game carried out by USN and USMC from Djibouti in a first drill for a potential regional clash with Iran, full-scale or limited.

This was focussed on the simulated Iranian blockage of the region’s two vital chokepoints, the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea’s Straits of Bab al-Mandeb.

Taking part were 4,500 US troops of the 13th MEU on the Essex Amphibious Ready Group vessels the Anchorage amphibious transport dock and Rushmore dock landing ship.

They were testing rapid response capabilities in an emergency, coastal landings by the Marines, fast rescues of US fighter pilots whose planes were shot down, and ability to function in areas with sea mines.

Included were the Marine 211 FA Squadron of F-35Bs, the first time that the US has introduced the F-35 for combat duty in these regions. These together with Israeli Adirs now cover the area from the Strait of Hormuz, through the Gulf of Aden, the Bab al Mandeb Straits, the Red Sea and up to the Syria coast.

This follows the recently cancelled Alligator Dagger, from Djibouti the largest regional amphibious combat rehearsal exercise in the region involved troops with the Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

Djibouti is a hub for counterterrorism efforts in the region, including operations in neighboring Somalia and across the Gulf of Aden in Yemen, and holds roughly 4,000 U.S. military personnel.

Iran no doubt has observed what their threats resulted in. It may be hoped that they may be more circumspect in their standard bellicose mouth exercises that could just result in another attitude adjustment similar to the one they got the last time they tangled with the USN and opened up a serious case of whoopasse. Saddam certainly got his neck adjusted... permanently.

The US has a big stick...and, from time to time, uses it.
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