FBI says Iran is behind threatening emails to Florida Democrats

Iranian intelligence was liable for a latest marketing campaign of emails despatched to intimidate voters in Florida, the FBI mentioned Wednesday night, including that Russia was additionally working to affect the election.

The emails, which ominously requested Florida Democratic voters to modify to the Republican Occasion, claimed to be from the Proud Boys, the right-wing group of Trump supporters who turned a flashpoint within the first presidential debate.

However the emails have been actually “spoofed” and have been designed “to incite social unrest and hurt President Trump,” mentioned John Ratcliffe, the director of nationwide intelligence. Ratcliffe did not clarify how the emails harm Trump, as they urged Democrats to modify to the Republican Occasion.

Ratcliffe supplied no proof of attribution.

Many states, together with Florida, make voter info, together with their names and celebration affiliations, available to members of the general public who request it.

Iran and Russia have each obtained info on US voter registration, Ratcliffe mentioned.

On the similar press convention, FBI Director Christopher Wray mentioned there was nonetheless no manner for Iranian or Russian intelligence to alter People’ votes.

“You must make certain your vote counts,” Wray mentioned.

Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesperson for the Iranian mission to the UN, denied that the nation had taken any steps to affect the US elections.

“In contrast to america, Iran doesn’t intrude within the elections of different international locations,” he mentioned in a press release Wednesday night. “The world has witnessed the determined public makes an attempt by america to query the result of its personal elections on the highest stage. These accusations are nothing greater than one other situation to undermine voter confidence within the safety of the US election and are absurd.

Iran has elevated its affect operations on-line lately, usually following Russia’s handbook to create partisan information websites that assist the Iranian authorities’s worldview – reminiscent of opposition to Israel and to Trump – with little traction.

However the operation, a extra lively trick to falsely accusing a few of Trump’s most notorious supporters, represents a brand new entrance for Iranian operations, mentioned John Hultquist, who heads intelligence evaluation at cybersecurity agency Mandiant.

“This incident marks a elementary shift in our understanding of Iran’s willingness to intrude within the democratic course of,” Hultquist mentioned in an e mail. “Whereas a lot of their operations have targeted on selling propaganda in pursuit of Iran’s pursuits, this incident is clearly geared toward undermining voter confidence.”

After the announcement, a Google spokesperson mentioned in a press release that the corporate had seen “proof that an Iran-related operation had despatched inauthentic emails to folks in america lately. 24 hours”.

He added that these automated spam filters for Gmail customers had stopped 90% of the roughly 25,000 emails despatched to his platform.

Google additionally mentioned it deleted a video file on Drive and a video on YouTube with lower than 30 views, and terminated related Google accounts.

“We have now referred the matter to the FBI and can proceed to work with regulation enforcement and different trade gamers to determine and take away any related content material,” the spokesperson mentioned Thursday.

U.S. election officers have repeatedly mentioned that the federal government’s actions forward of the 2020 election in response to Russian interference within the 2016 election would make it the most secure in trendy historical past.

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