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Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps Warns Against 'Internet In A Suitcase' Project

By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL

Iranian officials appear to be increasingly worried about the U.S.-funded "Internet in a Suitcase" project that aims to deploy shadow Internet and telecommunication networks in repressive countries.

The "Internet in a Suitcase" project
The "Internet in a Suitcase" project

The project was first reported earlier this month by "The New York Times."

"Sobhe Sadegh," the weekly publication of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), blasts the U.S. initiative in its latest issue, saying Iran should hire "revolutionary hackers" and create a cyberbase from which to counter it.

The IRGC publication says Iranian authorities should analyze the move, which according to "Sobhe Sadegh" carries a warning for the Islamic republic. It says the U.S. project is aimed at gathering information about Middle Eastern countries, such as Iran and Syria, and providing "soft" help to subversive and opposition groups.

“Accessing information is the main and most important method used by the enemies of the establishment," it writes. "This issue is of such importance that the enemies of the Islamic republic are ready, in order to access the information they need, to abuse information and help the spread of false information that is in line with their aims, to invest heavily in this area, and carry out costly projects."

Iranian Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi has also reacted to the "Internet in a Suitcase" project, saying the Islamic republic has ways for countering it, without providing details.

Speaking in Tehran on June 29, Moslehi said that since the "sedition" -- the mass protests that followed Iran's disputed June 2009 presidential vote -- the United States, the intelligence services of U.S. allies, and other countries in the region have made "heavy investments" in cyberspace.

"[U.S. President Barack] Obama admitted several times, in Congress and elsewhere, that the cyberwars he has carried out against us have not succeeded. He has admitted defeat. We had foreseen in advance the steps they are taking in cyberspace - for example, the 'Internet in a Suitcase' that they have hyped so much -- and we have ways to counter it," Moslehi said in an interview with Iranian state television.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry has also warned about the effort and says it could lead to a backlash against the United States. Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said on June 14 that Internet-savvy Muslims in the region could strike back against the United States.

Copyright (c) 2011 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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