I have just passed through my 79th birthday, and the Iranian regime is celebrating it by sending a bunch of phony messages in my name to various innocent victims. This generally lures in the unwary, and generates tidy little concentric circles of email addresses — just what the mullahs like to play with.
I’m not alone at The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). The latest target is Richard Goldberg, and there has long been Reuel Gerecht, Mark Dubowitz and Clifford May. I’ve been on this list for many years now, and I’ve got some handy advice for those who receive what looks like an email message from yours truly, or anyone else at the Foundation.
The handiest advice is: don’t do what you’re being asked to do. The information about me is false, and asks the recipient to forward to the sender all the data he/she has about me. This request would close the loops and provide the sender with all the links back and forth between them and their targets.
I have heard from some of those queried by the regime, and it is quite clear that the Iranians are hunting for American networks exchanging information about Iranian activities. They figure that such networks will give them a picture of American counterintelligence operations, make it easier for the Iranians to penetrate them, and get them inside the U.S. networks. Once there, the Iranians believe they can reverse the procedure, and unravel the enemy networks.
The whole thing is a scam to get the Iranians inside our networks, of which FDD is evidently among the most important. If they succeed in penetrating the U.S. network on Iran, the Iranians hope to obtain a complete picture of America’s grasp of the Iranian operation inside the United States.
This is no small matter. According to official Iranian radio broadcasts, one Iranian dies every nine minutes from the coronavirus, and the broadcasts are not reliable. If we ever get our hands on the files from the regime, we are likely to discover that the death rates are significantly higher than we currently believe.
Meanwhile, the American Justice Department announced charges against Iranians in Florida:
The owner of a Florida talent management company and four others were charged in complaints unsealed yesterday for their alleged participation in a scheme to file fraudulent loan applications seeking more than $24 million in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
The charges link the newly-charged five to four others previously indicted on the same charges. The testimony at their trial should tell us a lot about Chinese spying in the West, and expose the failure of China to develop a new generation of technology in the evolving cold war.
Western governments are acting accordingly:
The Chinese foreign ministry has now instructed its ambassadors to aggressively defend its interests and reputation, even if at the cost of diplomatic niceties. Following what has been named “wolf warrior” diplomacy, these diplomats are now actively pushing the Chinese regime’s agenda by employing the tools of attacks, fake news, propaganda, and conspiracy theories. However, countries around the world, instead of being cowed down, are now standing up to this diplomatic offensive and China’s hegemonic ambitions.
Nowhere is this shift more pronounced than with China’s neighbors in the Indo-Pacific.
Australia is increasing its defense budget, four members of the “Five Eyes” intelligence pact—the United States, Great Britain, Australia and Japan—have censured the recent Chinese clampdown on Hong Kong’s freedom, and the fifth “Eye”—New Zealand—is reexamining her relationship with Hong Kong:
This push on political issues is matched by a growing squeeze on Chinese technology companies, which for years have had free rein in markets around the world by offering cheaper low-quality alternatives—hardware and software. However, it appears that Beijing’s hegemonic pursuits may have been nipped in the bud. Following India’s ban of more than 50 Chinese apps, the United States is contemplating a similar move. Besides, the United States, the UK, too, has made up its mind, as evident from its decision to exclude Huawei from its 5G network. France, too, is taking steps to restrict Huawei’s role in its telecom network.
So if I were making predictions, I would say that China is looking at grave difficulties in the near term. And they are getting graver all the time.
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Photo: TRT World