• Iranians Behind Unprecedented Cyber Hacks, FireEye Says
Bloomberg: Cyber attackers in Iran could be behind a wave of hacks on government and communications infrastructure that will require a coordinated global response to repel, according to cybersecurity firm FireEye Inc. FireEye researchers have identified attacks on dozens of Internet sites belonging to entities across the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and North America, the firm said in a report published Thursday. The actor or actors have “a nexus to Iran,” it said.
• Iran Says It Will Reciprocate After EU Sanctions Iranians
Reuters: Iran said on Wednesday that it would reciprocate after the European Union added two Iranian individuals and an Iranian intelligence unit to the bloc’s terrorist list. EU ministers agreed on Tuesday to add the names to the list and freeze their assets, effective from Wednesday, as the Netherlands accused Iran of two killings on its soil and joined France and Denmark in alleging Tehran plotted other attacks in Europe.
• Europe’s Baby Steps On Iran
The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board: The European Union on Tuesday imposed new sanctions against Iran for the first time since the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action came into effect. This is a welcome, if belated, acknowledgment that the 2015 nuclear deal has failed to change Tehran’s behavior. Over the summer European authorities prevented a bomb attack on Iranian dissidents in Paris coordinated by Iranian intelligence across the Continent. In October Denmark announced it had stopped a plot to assassinate an Iranian opposition figure on Danish soil. The Dutch government has also accused Iran of assassinating two Dutch citizens of Iranian origin in the Netherlands in recent years.
• EU Names Two Iranian Officials Blacklisted For Suspected Roles In Assassination Plots
|Radio Free Europe: The European Union has named two Iranian officials who, along with Iran’s intelligence services, have been targeted by fresh sanctions for their suspected involvement in assassination plots in France, Denmark, and the Netherlands. The listings in the EU’s terrorism sanctions list were agreed to on January 8 and published on January 9 in the EU’s Official Journal. The two individuals were identified in the Official Journal as Assadollah Asadi and Saeed Hashemi Moghadam.
• Iran’s State TV Airs Unseen Video Of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Iranian State TV has aired previously unseen footage of what appears to be the arrest of jailed Iranian-British dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Tehran in April 2016. The approximately minute-long video, which has been edited, shows Zaghari-Ratcliffe being pulled aside by someone off camera at an airport and questioned, according to Mashregh News. In the line of questioning a man asks her about her travel intentions and informs her that there is a warrant for her arrest and that she is not permitted to leave the country.
• Shocking Story Of Torture And Attempts By Officials To Evade Accusations
A female civil rights activist who was arrested in November and spent close to one month in detention has talked about “brutal torture” of her and a labor activist arrested with her. Sepideh Qolian was at the Haft-Tapeh Sugar Mill in November, where workers were on strike and protesting for their unpaid wages, when security officers attacked and detained her with several labor activists.
• Iran Says U.S. Citizen White Arrested, Confirming Earlier Reports
Reuters: Iran confirmed on Wednesday it had arrested an American, confirming U.S. media reports about a case that risks further worsening relations with Washington. The New York Times reported on Monday that Michael White, a 46-year-old U.S. Navy veteran, was arrested while visiting Iran and had been held since July on unspecified charges.
• Try As It Might, Iran Can’t Ban Social Media
Bloomberg: Iran’s National Cyberspace Council is planning to block Instagram, the last social-media platform freely accessible in the country. This is unlikely to trouble Iranian Instagrammers, who will continue to use the platform through virtual private networks, or VPNs, that route traffic through internet connections abroad. This easy workaround allows Iranians to evade government filters and access banned platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and use messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram.
• The US Wants To Counter Iran In Syria. It May Leave Some Troops Behind To Do That.
VOX: Contradicting President Donald Trump’s announcement that he plans to completely withdraw US forces from Syria, the United States reportedly plans to keep some troops in the country to counter Iran. National Security Adviser John Bolton just returned from a trip to Turkey, where he had aimed to coordinate the withdrawal of 2,000 US troops from Syria. US forces are in the country to counter ISIS, but last month, Trump declared the terrorist group defeated and announced his plan to bring US troops home.
• Iraq Urges Pompeo To Maintain U.S. Troop Presence In Country
The Wall Street Journal: Iraqi leaders implored Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to maintain a U.S. troop presence in the country, seeking U.S. reassurances after the Trump administration announced plans to withdraw troops from elsewhere in the region. Mr. Pompeo’s visit to Iraq on Wednesday underscored the challenge U.S. officials face in persuading regional partners that the administration will remain involved in the turbulent region after President Trump’s decision in December to withdraw troops from Syria and to reduce troop levels in Afghanistan.