Iran and Facebook
The Iranian Government and its use of Facebook to track the movement of its opposition.
How has the dysfunctional government of Iran endured for more than thirty years? I know you are here to better understand how the Iranian government uses Facebook, Twitter and even Google to track down its opposition’s movements. First, I want to build a case that will help you understand why the current Iranian regime must be resisted and contained. Facebook is only the most recent chapter of the IRI clever tricks.
Face book was created to make network communication and friendship easy online. However, the IRI in Iran uses Facebook as one of the elements of the Intelligence puzzle. So that all of you may walk a mile in the shoes of the Iranian Freedom Fighter, I would like to review what I call the Iranian Triangle of Terror, Power and Politics. Religion is simply used to the benefit of the IRI. Considering the way Shiah Islam teaches a good Muslim to be, how can someone like Rafsanjani, who came to Iran with absolutely no way to earn more than a modest salary, is today is on Forbes magazine list of most wealthy in the world. Having multi- million dollars homes and buildings around the world does not equate with being a devoted Shiah. Especially in that Iran has an overwhelming rate of homeless and jobless. More than a million young people graduate for Iranian colleges every year into a shrinking job market. Only those professing loyalty to the regime get jobs. Religion is simply a non-valid excuse for non-Islamic atrocities.
When the Iranian government came to power, it looked so chaotic to the eyes of westerners that they assumed it would last no more than a few months. The non-politically savvy bunch leading the movement were for the most part young, USA and Europe educated trying to overthrow the Shah. The US contribution to the coup was President Carter’s public humiliation of the Shah before simply telling him to leave Iran. Shah and his father, Reza Shah, for the most part suppressed Shiah Islam practices and even brutally massacred innocent participants of the Shiah faith, such as Ayatollah Modaress and the massacre of Meshhad. These events, although historical, gave Khomeini a great excuse to rally people around him. He built his campaign on Freedom of Speech and Religion and on promises of prosperity. If the US had understood then what they currently understand of the Middle East, the Shah would have never been dethroned. Ever since the dissolution of the Ahmad Shah Qajar Dynasty, the US has wanted a secular government in Iran. However, a secular government in Iran is different than a secular government in the US.
Unfortunately, history cannot be reversed so Carter finally took a different direction with Iran. One that, perhaps noble in his eyes, has had devastating effect, not only for the Iranian people but around the world. It is a must to understand that religion is part of the Iranian mosaic. It is also important for Americans to understand that war with Iran will only benefit the IRI. The current regime came to power with promises of a healthy, prosperous Iran for all. Iranians initially embraced the new version of religion but it turned out to be much more restrictive that they bargained for. People didn’t anticipate how oppressive Iran would become under the current regime. Back in 1970s, unfortunately for the Iranian people, the Internet was an invention of the future. There were no faxes, e-mails or cameras capturing and spreading the frustration of Iranians. The regime got a grip on Iranian Television and kept the world in the dark about the restlessness and discontent of the Iranian people. The Shah had been so occupied with his illness and other issues that he simply had handed the country over to his relatives. No one really seemed to be at the helm. Otherwise, they should have realized, having all the media, technology and jobs located in one city, Tehran, meant if the Tehran collapses, so does the regime. The educated youth developed an interesting way of getting into power by capturing people’s mind in Tehran using both new and old fashion work. When faxes were high tech, they were widely available in Iran, as were print shops and other means of communication with the West. When the regime got to where it wanted to be, it cut all communication with the outside world. Having a fax machine required a license. Having a large printer required permission from the Irshad Islamic Center or, simply put, the Intelligence Office.
Iran’s close relationship with China and Russia brought to Iranians a kind of suppression Westerners did not understand. Inside Iran, people were looking for a way to overthrow the newly elected regime. Early in the revolution, death by hanging became the new fashion in Iran. The regime wanted to render a heavy punch to the jaws of the Iranian people that would leave a mark they would remember and avoid. Unfortunately, Westerners, mostly Americans who barely knew Iran except for their impression of the Shah, did not understand what to do with Iran; even as it held their diplomats hostage. Consequently, the West both dallied and rushed to decisions. But, exactly what did the regime do to turn out their constant failed policies enabling the chaotic dictatorship to remain in power and be counted as a power player in the Middle East? The Strategies of Iranian Regime from bottom up, 1978- Present. Before the real opposition had a chance to develop, the regime started creating its own fake opposition so the world would continually be running in a maze trying to determine who is who among Iranian opposition and unable to recognize fake from real. This successful strategy continues to this date. Create fake political prisoners by staging fake uprisings, arresting and imprisoning their own so they can create a putative legitimate political prisoner.
Using UN and Amnesty International to legitimize their fake opposition moles. Amnesty has not been in Iran since 1978. The UN must receive an invitation from the Iranian government in order to go to Iran and establish freedom of speech and ensure treatment of the people is up to par. The UN has not received its invitation. Exporting the fake opposition to the West to make sure they can legitimately live in Europe and the USA and have an ear to the ground on the genuine opposition outside Iran while getting close to US and European politicians. The most alarming issue being ignored or overlooked is: These “political refugees”, who supposedly have been tortured in prison, in reality are released from prison, receive a government issued passport and allowed to get on a plane and leave unharmed. Then, these “moles” turn up in the West, claiming they escaped and had to flee Iran to escape death. Astonishingly, the US government accepts them, unverified, as real opposition. The reality is passage through Iranian airports is much more restricted than in the US and it is nearly impossible to fly without hassle without complicity of the regime. Create a lobbying system that helps to not only study every move of the US politician but allows the Iranian regime’s trusted individuals to mingle with US policy makers and transfer valid information to Iran in almost real time. It also appeals to sophisticated intellectuals who tolerate it as long as Iran does not hold hostages. Today, the Iranian government is trying to create very much the same lobbying and appeal activity as APAC. Iranian Regime has become incredibly clever with NGOs and non profit tax exempts that can receive money through charity. There are at least a dozen NGOs under the wing of the Iranian regime in the US alone. Most of them operate from California. The Iranian regime has created a large number of broadcasts from Los Angeles that, with the use of satellite, go directly to Iran. Every one on these broadcasts constantly bad mouth one another. This is a purposeful strategy to create suspicion of who to trust. As Iranians simply put it, “We don’t want to die for someone that we don’t see any action from.” Contrary to what the US government thinks, the Iranian regime does its homework on brainwashing and controlling their audience. The Iranian regime is highly sophisticated and creates media that broadcasts in a number of languages around the clock, giving Iran an edge over other brutal regimes such as North Korea.
The Iranian regime successfully uses the VOA, which has been flooded with so-called “political prisoners.” Many of them acquired their entire university education and worked as journalists while getting in and out prison on “furlough.” While in prison establishing their bona fides, they are even permitted cell phones to make calls to the Los Angles shows from their jail cells. The constant sound bites on CNN, MSNBC, FOX and all major networks, are not only not accidental but are run like a constant PR campaign for the Iranian regime. The regime can claim with merit that it is a power to reckon with.
With helping Hezbollah and Hamas on one hand and having Russia and China on their side playing against the US and everyone else, that is an accurate statement, at least in their eyes.
Imagine a new author to the market. What would sell their books? Imagine this person not only has an agenda but also millions of dollars to spend on PR, would it surprise you to see their product on National Media all the time? The US has still yet to figure out that the Iranian regime uses the sound bite to its advantage very well. Like anyone gaining popularity, even through bad PR, it is still making Iran the number one country in the world to be heard from and about all the time. The World, unfortunately, doesn’t understand that when anything happens in Iran, there is usually a press release sent to the major media and Associated Press. What the US media is leaving out is how the Iranian people react to the news inside Iran.
Of course, there is a limit to what the world media can do but it seems to be overlooked that what the Iranian government feeds to our media is actually intentional. There are a few exceptions. One must be the death by sniper last year of Neda Sultani on the streets of Tehran. Immediately after this incident, the US and world media were forbidden to show the real stories but before these stories, there was a lot more oppression in Iran to which the world seemed indifferent of willing to accept.
I represented and spoke for twenty one political prisoners in Iran for over a year and a half. I also spoke for Ayatollah Broujeridi, who is still in solitary in Evin prison.
I also spoke for the KavossianFard who killed the brutal Judge Moghandess in 2007. They fled Iran for Dubai where they were handed over to the US Embassy. The US turned them over to InterPol who handed them off to the Dubai Police who delivered them back to Iran where they were hanged publicly on the street. What is truly astonishing is that, during the Bush administration, the State Department was never questioned by the Congress as to why they did not even hear what these two young people had done. The outside world keeps telling the Iranians to do something. But we never define what we need them to do. When they do decide to take matters into their own hands and eliminate someone like Judge Moghandess, who was known to be the butcher of Iranian opposition, we punish the opposition. Too few know that Judge Moghandess also played a role in the jail sentence for Zahra Kazemi.
One wonders, has the US ever understood the complete China/Iran relationship? As mentioned before, the arrival of cheaper goods from China put an end to an enormous amount of jobs in Iran. The Iranian government literally gives away too many of Iran’s assets, including Persian carpets, the very essence of Iranian exports. This particular industry has been severely damaged, possibly beyond repair. If the world doesn’t pay attention it could be lost.
The Iranian regime does not care or bother to copyright the carpet patterns that have been in Iran for centuries. Chinese factories, although they cannot produce even remotely equivalent quality carpets are infringing on the previously completely Persian owned industry. Carpet Also, since Iran supplies more than 15 percent of the Chinese oil market, the Chinese will always have an excuse to be close to the Iranian regime no matter what the rest of the world wishes. This delicate two-way relationship of helping Iran and prolonging a devastating dependence on Iranian oil is something into which the US government needs to take a far deeper look. But who is the architect of these Intel games? In late 1990, Khatemi as Minister of Intelligence started redefining how the Iranian regime planned to continue its existence. Its aggression of 1978 was put on a Wall of Infamy to gather dust while a new policy was created to send full scholarship students to the US. Supporting professors who were interested in being published and become more than just someone with a degree. Khatemi created the first Iranian student movement from which came a series of both real opposition and fake/real opposition. (I am purposely using both words so the audience understands they are fake but if you see them as real, therefore they are. )
Freedom of Speech in Iran: Khatemi was the first President to give the impression of freedom. Today, while we have internet in Iran, the Iranian regime is following the steps of China in regulating Google. When Google started to become the search engine we know today, the IRI also got on board. The Iranian regime cleverly uses the IP addresses to track its opposition. It is perhaps a surprise to many, even today after seeing the death of Iranian youth on the streets, that the Iranian regime controls all communication towers, including cell phone towers, in Iran. In fact, in 2007, when the Iranian regime was short of cash, it created a new way to do business with the free market. Iranian government created something called Article 44.
This article was approved by the Assembly and permits the Iranian government to liquidate its assets and sell them to private corporations. That meant a lot of US companies were eligible to deal with. Although the Iranian regime benefits, they do not necessarily break any laws because the corporation is a private entity. With a great deal of distress, we as Iranians have tried to make US politicians understand what the article 44 means for the US. But, sadly, there was never a single hearing in the US Senate or House of Representatives. Under Article 44, Iran sold most of its assets, excluding a few. Communications were exempt. That means the Iranian regime still spies on its citizen. Over time representing people, I have seen evidence that Yahoo chats ended up in the court prior to the prisoner getting final sentencing. Audio conversations are often overheard, and there are ways to find out who is who.
So, when someone sends a message on their Twitter page, the Iranian government not only can track that message in real time, but can also locate and arrest the recipient. The solution: We need servers for the Iranian youth, we need cell phones which would be operable from outside Iran and we need laptops and satellites. But, the Iranian regime knows all this. So, they figured if they allow the youth to use their cell phones and let them know they will be arrested, perhaps they won’t do it again. Iran also slowed down the Internet and it is off limit many days. When it is operable, many sites filtered but sites that promote the regime work just fine. Iranian Intelligence: Most observers of the Iranian regime’s behavior understand the Intelligence system of the IRI is similar to Mosad. That is not surprising to Iranians who follow the regime but how is that possible? When the Iranian regime came to power, the first order was to fragment the military and police known to the West that could possibly ever be used to dethrone the current regime. Anyone among the high ranking military who had a relationship with US or Europe either had to flee or face death. This made Iran extremely vulnerable to fight a war, which was the strategy used against the regime in the Reagan era.
But SAVAK, despite torturing many IRI leaders such as the late Ayatollah Montazeri and Talegani, was not dissolved. Instead, the Iranian Intel system simply changed its name to SAVAMA. that was the creation of Rafsanjani.
The Bassij Revolutionary Guard, Bassij was created to execute the orders to cleanse the society. This surge of mass killings, along with firing women from their work, shutting down universities until so-called Western teachers could be purged to prevent unsanctioned brain washing of students, book burning and recreating history logically would have been a great way for the Iranian regime to end in its very first years. Unfortunately, in 1979 the greatest mistake of the US government toward Iran helped the Iranian regime take root in the minds and hearts of the majority; at least in time of war. War with Iraq stopped the masses from worrying about the regime and what it was doing to their existence and the freedom they were accustomed to. The war helped the regime enforce their renewed grip on Iranian people’s lives and perfected the US strategy of war to get the people behind their cause in fighting for the SOVEREIGNTY of Iran. SOVEREIGNTY of Iran and its relationship with China and Russia.
Foreign policy of Iran: Relationship with China and Russia. Knowing full well that the war with Sadam would not be without its challenges, the Iranian regime immediately bonded with China and Russia. Russia had been banned from preaching its policies to Iranians and from having allies in Iran and had a century old hatred of Iran after losing the northern provinces of Iran in battles against the Qajar Dynasty. But now, Russia seized the opportunity to privately embrace Iran as a new tool to hamper the United States while agreeing with it on the surface. The Biggest Looser of this marriage are the Iranian people. The flood gate to cheap Chinese products may be welcome at Wal-Mart but it is a different story in Iran. It completely destroyed any quality Iranian products had prior to the regime change.
And, sanctions on Iran forwarded Iranian dollars to Russia and China for military materials and airplanes that are questionably safe. The Iranian airline has one of, if not the highest crash rates in the world. Russian scientists found adequate work in the nuclear facilities of Iran. Iran not only became an ally of Russia, it has become its protégé. In return, Iran gave Russia the free market access from the Caspian to the Persian Gulf that it had always craved. Unlike the very first days of Iranian regime when the slogan of “NO WEST, NO EAST” was popular, the Russia and know if this is slogan used, it is just political and not personal!
During the first months of the Revolution, anyone reading a leftist book would find himself or herself in prison but, these days, the leftist movement is thriving in Iran. The war brought not only a helping hand. It also brought dependency of Iran on Russia. Combined with the government challenges, in the early weeks of the Iranian regimes rise to power, no Generals remained alive in Iran. Khomeini constantly called the Iraq/Iran war prosperity for the IRANIAN regime. A deep look back at his statement confirms that he meant it. The many years closeness to China and Russia throughout the war gave logistical help, Intelligence and understanding of how to shut down Human Rights and Freedom Fighters and how to use the internet, as it became available in early 90s, to the benefit of the government.
Also, it afforded a learning curve opportunity for Iranian leaders that, at the beginning, were no more than a few youngsters overthrowing the Shah. The eight years of war was a kind of boot camp in foreign policy of cold war, political mind games and players dance and how to use every situation to gain what the Iranian regime needed and how to stay away from situations not beneficial to its existence.
For example: In the first Gulf War, when US troops attacked Sadam, Rafsanjani proposed that Iran go to Sadam’s aid.
Within a week of his statement, he ate his words. Those who lost family and friends and the Iranian population started protesting, asking why Iran should defend the man who killed over a million and injured half a million Iranian youth. Not to mention, the Sadam’s crimes against Kurdish people in Northern Iraq.
Eg: The role of Sepah Passdaran helping the US government in Afghanistan. Well documented in National Geographic how leaders of Sepah Passdaran helped identify targets in Afghanistan against Al Qaeda in 2002
Eg: Helping Europeans in fight against drug dealers to gain the latest anti- protest training from Germany in 2007-2008 This tactic not only helped the Iranian regime gain the latest training but allowed the Iranian cell phone towers to be updated right under the US and European politician’s noses. It allowed Siemens and Motorola to sell the latest equipment to the Iranian regime without any hassle. Not to mention the large interest in Iranian oil and gas for companies such as Shell (Holland) and OMV (Austria). The 500 year gas resource certainly speaks loudly.
The recent strategies of the Iranian regime have positioned Iran second only to Russia as the largest Natural Gas producer in the world.
Iran, Russia and Qatar formed an OPEC-style natural gas cartel in 2009. That bring us to the issue of if Iran has a 500 year supply of natural gas, why would it need Nuclear?
The most burning questions are: Has or will Iran buy loose nukes on the black market or, if produced, will they be used against Israel. Nuclear energy: What will happen in the Middle East when Iran becomes fully nuclear?
First and foremost: The Iranian regime is using the nuclear issue to prove a point that they are among the world elite. They are part of the club, if you may… Second:
As long as the Iranian regime has Russia and China by its side, there is absolutely no sanctions that will hurt its existence unless, of course, we take a look at our strategy and eliminate some the help the Iranian government receives right under our noses within this country. Having the Iranian lobby and their network of Iranian media operating right from Washington DC makes the US appear hypocritical in asserting that they don’t know how the Iranian regime operates. Third: If the US and Israel risk an attack Iran, this would be the kind of blessing the Iranian regime is looking for. Unless the US and Israel look at this and other issues through the lenses of the Iranian people, this regime will remain in power. In case of a nuclear attack on Iran, US and Israel will lose the confidence of Iranian people and that is worth more than anything else in liberating Iran. There is one thing that every concern politician needs to consider.
Why does the Iranian regime keep saying that they have been able to achieve nuclear? It seems the Iranian government takes the US expression, “If you got it, flaunt it.” Literally However, my own understanding of power, which is part of my research for a future book, shows that if you do have something you keep it quiet until you are fully capable of producing it.
In my years of studying human behavior and psychology and having personally been held in the Intel offices of the IRI, I can assure the audience this much: The Iranian regime must have been able to score a minor victory in its nuclear program but if it knew it is able to produce, let’s say 60 or 100 nuclear bombs, they would have kept quiet. This is the next logical step. Only weak people brag about something because they want to give the impression they have more than they actually have. Also, even if Iran becomes nuclear, it is not as easy for them to use it as Ahmandinejad claims. The Shiah religion prohibits attacks on anyone. That includes those Ahmandinejad calls occupiers, infidels and so on.
Why the brag and if they do have nuclear power, what is the Shiah Islam obligation to use it?
Facebook: A new chapter in fighting the freedom fighters. The combination of Twitter and Face book is the latest cool tool inside and outside Iran. The shortcoming is: when Iranian youth use these tools, they essentially show the Iranian regime where to locate them. As explained, the IRI owns every cell phone tower. Every time someone twitters, the IRI is able to find them in real time through GPS. All of our phone carry GPS and they can figure out whose user name and which cell phone was used.
Google and Internet are not any safer for the Iranian youth to use. Anytime they log in to the Internet, since all the servers are government owned, that means the IRI is able to locate them while searching internet. Every time the IRI feels uncomfortable with a site, they are able to shut it down. Therefore, Google in Iran, although still useable, doesn’t have any better faith than it does in China. For those the Iranian regime can’t locate, it has figured out how to create fake profiles under thousands of Internet agents working inside and outside Iran to locate their opposition. They set aside and watch the walls of their Facebook friends. The angry opposition makes too many mistakes.
They not only announce everything including date, time, and place but they also put the youth in Iran at great risk. The more protests that are shut down in Iran, the less likely Iranians can win. Another trick the agents of IRI play on Facebook is to create fake pages under Iranian superstar’s names and watch the youth attracted to the pages.
Eg: Shajaryan page. At a glance, Facebook pages of the Shajaryan family seem just as genuine as anyone else. Except, none of the pages nor fan or personal entries were set up by Mr. Shajaryan or his company. Setting up fake profiles is a way for the Iranian Intelligence office to follow who is who and who attaches themselves to these people. When I brought the issue to his manager’s attention, he was shocked and assured me the IRI Intel has made numerous attempts to stop Mr. Shajaryan playing music in Iran.
Mr. Shajaryan is just one example of how they use fake names to find who says what on Facebook. Facebook gives celebrities and political figures the stamp of approval. If you don’t see that, it means that person is not who they claim to be. Be cautious about exchanging too much information on Facebook. The more you say, the more the IRI uses it to shut down the opposition.