By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL
The Basij force of Iran's Revolutionary Guard has said in a statement posted by Iranian news outlets that several of its websites have come under cyberattack. The statement, which was issued on May 1, appears to mark the first time that the powerful Basij force has publicly acknowledged facing such an assault
The Basij force claims to have mobilized university instructors, students, and clerics as part of its "cyberarmy." (file photo)
The Basij claims that the attacks by elements of "the global arrogance" (a term used by Iranian officials to refer to the United States) originated in Poland.
The paramilitary force, which has itself been reportedly behind cyberassaults against opposition websites, alleged that the attacks are connected with Iran’s upcoming presidential elections on June 14.
“Due to the impending vote, elements of the global arrogance have launched a new round of cyberattacks against Basij websites, particularly Basij.ir,” it said.
The Basij force claims it is working to confront and neutralize the attacks.
Basij’s main website, Basij.ir, which was down earlier on May 1, is now accessible.
The "Tabnak" news outlet quotes Esmail Ahmadi, the head of Basij.ir, as saying that his site has faced many attacks in the past three years.
He added that "the enemy" would increase its assaults on the Basij website on special occasions.
Ahmadi did not explain why the alleged attacks have only been made public now.
“We didn’t see a need to publicize this issue,” was all he said on the matter.
As an acting commander of the Basij force, Ali Fazli was quoted in 2011 as saying that hackers working for the paramilitary group had conducted attacks against "enemy" websites.
"As there are cyberattacks against us, the Basij's cyberarmy, which includes university instructors and students as well as clerics, is attacking websites of the enemy," Fazli said, according to a quote in the "Iran" daily.
"Without resorting to the power of the Basij, we would not have been able to monitor and confront our enemies," he added.
In the aftermath of the disputed 2009 reelection of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, a number of opposition and government websites were attacked by hackers from both sides.
Attempts were reportedly also made to bring down the website of Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
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