Guandolo: How Muslim Brotherhood Compromised the FBI & National Security

Go to Understanding the Threat and read today’s post, How Badly is The U.S. Government Penetrated by Terrorists?

John Guandolo gave a very good talk last November for Brannon Howse on the subversive Muslim Brotherhood movement in the US:

Proof Entire Muslim World Has Admitted Human Rights Means Sharia:

Understanding What Islam Means By Peace, Freedom, Justice, Terrorism, Innocents & Human Rights:


Muslim Brotherhood Cyber ‘Chaos Ops’ Up There with Russia’s, Says Expert

Egyptian students who support the Muslim Brotherhood take part in a demonstration at Cairo University on Jan. 5, 2015. (Amr Sayed/Sipa via AP Images)

PJ Media, by Bridget Johnson, Jan. 31, 2018:

ARLINGTON, Va. — An expert in cyber influence operations warned that the Muslim Brotherhood’s online campaigns are on par with the vast, meticulous “chaos ops” devised and orchestrated against Americans by Russia and China.

James Scott is a co-founder and senior fellow at the nonpartisan Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology, which in October launched the Center for Cyber-Influence Operations Studies in response to the “pandemic” weaponization of digital vectors by nation-states.

At ICIT’s Winter Summit on Monday, Scott said that a center to study malicious influence operations was born out of necessity due to recent election cyber ops and digitized propaganda “coming in from everywhere.”

The manufacturing of dissent that underpins influence ops involves “the weaponization of everything,” with manipulative psychology and propaganda tailored to distinct audiences in a battle for the narrative.

“Traditional media is irrelevant” in this new threat landscape, Scott explained. “The UN is no more relevant than Facebook. Wikileaks knows as much as a CIA analyst. Google is the new gatekeeper to information.”

And it’s a crowded field among influence peddlers with nefarious intent, as “everyone is competing for control of the narrative.”

Russia has run successful influence ops because they “found the vulnerability in the narrative,” Scott said. “If you control the meme, you control the idea … control the narrative, you control the population.”

Technology-based influence operations are especially attractive to malicious actors, he added, because they are “so cheap compared to traditional warfare.”

The biggest type of operation right now is the “chaos op.”

“Chaos is the op; that’s what it is it,” Scott said, describing a skillfully executed digitized propaganda campaign that “granularly injects itself in culture — it’s culturally transformative.”

“We’re focusing specifically on Russia when the reality is we need to be focusing on the process itself,” he added, including “inoculating against process of the meme” that “will manipulate things, then focus in on a target audience” while identifying and exploiting alliance and adversarial relationships.

Memes used in online influence operations are tested first, Scott noted, with the goal of finding a trigger incident and “you create the outcry; you manufacture it.” The meme is tested on platforms such as Instagram and weaponizes hashtags already in use. Twitter use bot technology can then “fan the flame of the organic response.”

In fact, there are services on the dark web that pull together these influence operations for malicious actors, manipulating vectors such as social media, ISPs and even dating sites to “make a digital footprint so deep” that elements of the 2016 campaign ops are still seen online.

“Russia is definitely up there; so is China,” Scott said of key offenders. “So is the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The Muslim Brotherhood’s cyber team stages chaos ops “all the time,” he described, “geared toward fanning flames of illusion that there’s rampant xenophobia here” with the goal to “try to formulate a kinetic impact.” Al-Qaeda has highlighted police shootings of unarmed African-American men in issues of their Inspire magazine, trying to recruit based on sympathy with the plight of minority communities.

After stoking that anger, Scott said, the Muslim Brotherhood will “find those ready to graduate to a new level of extremist ideology.”

Influence operations in future election cycles will include the “normal” cocktail of Russia, China, and Iran, as special-interest groups and PACs are “going to be in and part of the narrative illusions.”

Predicting “memetic skyscrapers,” Scott added, “This is going to be an election unlike anything you’ve ever seen.”

Asked what the inoculation against cyber influence operations would be, he replied, “Unplug.”

“Understand you’re not necessarily getting the correct answer when you type that,” he said, counting “manipulative corporate nation-states” among the online actors feeding selective stories based on a user’s algorithm and metadata.

How an Iranian front group infiltrated 41 US universities

Lazarev | Getty Images


Conservative Review, by Jordan Schachtel, July 19, 2017:

An Islamic “charity” recently convicted of acting as a front group for the regime in Iran has financed and installed Iran-friendly professors and curriculums at 44 universities across North America – and 41 of those schools are located in the United States.

In late June, a New York jury ruled that the Alavi Foundation is directly linked to the Iranian regime, allowing the feds to seize the Manhattan building that provided revenue for the organization’s nationwide influence operations. Prosecutors called the conviction the “largest terrorism-related civil forfeiture in United States history.”

Alavi used a multi-pronged approach to embed itself into American society. From financing pro-Tehran Shiite cultural centers and mosques to donating heavily to the infamous Clinton Foundation, the regime-connected outfit sought to win over hearts and minds in its clandestine efforts.

A primary focus of the foundation continues to be installing Iran-friendly professors and curriculums into American universities. Over the past few years, the Alavi Foundation has increased its college and university financing efforts by about 50 percent.

Alavi claims that its goal is simply to “offer courses on Persian language, Iranian studies and the Islamic culture with a focus on Shiite studies.” However, analysts continue to note that several programs connected to Alavi involve controversial pro-Tehran professors and a morally obtuse curriculum.

From 2013 to 2016, the Alavi foundation’s academic funding efforts exploded from 30 to 44 colleges and universities in North America. Over 90 percent of recipients are United States schools.

The following institutions receive grants from the Alavi Foundation, according to one of its 2016 fundraising appeals:

Bard College; Boston University; Brandeis University; Columbia University; Drew University; Eastern Mennonite University; George Mason University; Hartford Seminary; Harvard University; Harvard University Law School; Lake Forest University; Sacred Heart University; University of Chicago; Binghamton University; Cal State, Fullerton; Cal State, Los Angeles; Cal State, Northridge; Carleton University (Canada); City College of New York; Concordia University; Georgia State University; CUNY Hunter College; Kutztown University; McGill University (Canada); Ohio State University; Portland State University; Rutgers University; San Diego State University; Temple University; University of Alberta (Canada); University of Arizona; University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Los Angeles; University of Florida; University of Maryland; University of Michigan; University of Southern California; University of Texas, Austin; University of Utah; University of Virginia; University of Wisconsin, Madison; University of Pennsylvania; Utah State University.

Alavi has entered into a cost-sharing agreement with many of these universities, facilitating deals that support the hiring of tenure-track professors. One such report found that these professors are “sympathetic to the Iranian dictatorship.”

It may not come as a shock — given what we now know about the extent of the pro-Tehran group — that many of the professors supported by Alavi-backed programming have pursued a radically pro-Tehran agenda.

Rutgers professor Hooshang Amirahmadi is the leader of the American Iranian Council, a group that has offered support for the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist organizations, according to the New York Post.

University of Maryland research scholar Ebrahim Mohseni produced a much-disputed poll that showed wide support for Iran’s extremely anti-Semitic former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Over at Harvard University, visiting scholar Ali Akbar Alikhani penned a white paper calling for a world governed by the Quran. He also wrote a book review on “the Jewish threat” to other world religions.

Moreover, the foundation poured $100,000 into Columbia University’s coffers after the NYC school agreed to host former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

During the heated debate over whether the U.S. should sign on to a nuclear agreement with Iran, the National Iranian American Council (which has its own extensive links to the regime) published a pro-Iran-deal letter endorsed by 73 “Middle East and International Relations Scholars.” Coincidentally or not, dozens of professors on the list came from institutions that received Alavi Foundation money.

These are but a handful of the “success” stories on college campuses funded by the Alavi Foundation’s academic grants. Given the group’s alleged connections to Iran’s sophisticated intelligence apparatus, it’s quite possible that its campaigns have had alarming, extensive success in winning over the hearts and minds of college students.

Now that Alavi has been ruled a front for the Iranian regime, it’s unclear what will become of its programming inside dozens of American universities. The seized Manhattan skyscraper acted as the major revenue stream for the foundation’s efforts throughout the nation, and it’s unclear whether the group can sustain its funding while going through serious legal proceedings.

For years, the Alavi Foundation funneled cash through a regime that hosts Friday prayers ending in “Death to America.” Now that Alavi has been exposed, only time will tell whether the 41 U.S. institutions will continue to act in a morally bankrupt manner and continue to accept dirty money from a front group forwarding the agenda of an enemy nation.

Why the MB is Still Not Designated as Terrorists in the US

Understanding the Threat, by John Guandolo, May 14, 2017:

It is no oversight the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood is not yet designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).  In fact, the issue has now been pushed off the table by the Trump administration as the result of a significantly successful information operation perpetrated by the International Muslim Brotherhood continually supported by media outlets.

It should be noted that the Senate bill to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) provides a significant amount of information revealing this designation is a reasonable and necessary action to protect the citizens of the United States and rid this nation of a cancer that continues to grow daily.

Read the MB Designation Bill HERE.

In the February 23, 2017 edition of the Egypt International (, the International Muslim Brotherhood’s Foreign Relations Officer, Mohamed Sudan, revealed the IMB coordinated with a number of nations and entities in a massive information operation (“Propaganda campaign”) to keep the new Trump administration from designating the U.S. MB a terrorist organization.

The article states:

“The international Muslim Brotherhood succeeded in making several contacts with government officials and US Congress to convince them that the Brotherhood is not a terrorist organization and will not get involved in the commission of terrorist acts…”

“People close to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton helped the group access media companies and contracting, saying that those companies had a role in the completion of communications between the international Muslim Brotherhood and members of Congress, according to the terms of the contract entered into between the parties.”

In the article, the IMB’s Secretary General, Ibrahim Munir, thanked Turkey and Qatar for their assistance in this project.  The article went on to say:

“Brotherhood sources confirmed the group contracted with an American advertising company last month to oppose the bill submitted to Congress which aims to classify the MB as a terrorist organization. The sources added the international organization will pay $5 million for corporate propaganda and the publication of articles stating the group rejects terrorist acts to correct its image in the American media.”

Remembering this article was published in Egypt on February 23, 2017 about events that already took place, what was the outcome of this hostile information campaign?

On January 26, 2017, the Wall Street Journal ran a threatening article entitled “Blacklisting the Muslim Brotherhood Carries Risks.”  The article made it clear:  if the Muslim Brotherhood is designated a terrorist organization, “it could trigger unexpected consequences.”  This article was meant to strike fear into the hearts of Islam’s enemies.

On February 22, 2017, the New York Times published an article entitled “I am a Muslim Brother, not a Terrorist,” written by Gehad El-Haddad, the spokesman for the International Muslim Brotherhood who now sits in an Egyptian prison.  This was a propaganda piece that supported the idea the Muslim Brotherhood is not a terrorist organization.

It is not unusual for the New York Times to defend enemies of the United States.

This is the same New York Times, by the way, which identified Imam Hesham Shashaa – operating in Germany – as a moderate. Yet, last week Shashaa was arrested by the Germans for supporting ISIS. Weird.  Just like when the New York Times called Anwar al Awlaki a moderate, right before the U.S. drone striked him and killed Awlaki for being the Al Qaeda leader in Yemen, among other things.

What is interesting about Gehad El-Haddad is that while he was the spokesman for the International Muslim Brotherhood, he was also the spokesman for Egyptian Presidential candidate Morsi – the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate.

Oddly enough, while Gehad El-Heddad was the spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate for President of Egypt, he was on the William J. Clinton Foundation where he served from August 2007 to August 2012.

To summarize, the leadership of the International Muslim Brotherhood publicly stated they have an operation underway to influence the U.S. government, the media, and the American public not to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.  The MB reports Hillary Clinton provided support for this operation, and a key node in the operation is the spokesman for the IMB who also spent five (5) years working with the Clinton Foundation.

Treason anyone?

And, at the end of the day, the Trump administration has taken this issue off the table, thereby surrendering to our enemy and giving them a significant victory.

This is why UTT continues to say, this war must and will be won at the local level.


Putin Applies MH17 False-Flag Template To Syria’s Gas Attack To Convince Russian Public

NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 12: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley attends a United Nations (UN) Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East where the ongoing conflict in Syria was discussed on April 12, 2017 in New York City. It is expected that the Security Council will vote later on Wednesday on a draft resolution demanding that the Syrian government cooperate with an investigation of the suspected chemical attack last week. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Forbes, by Paul Roderick Gregory, April 13, 2017:

It should be a piece of cake for the Kremlin to convince the Russian people that the massacre of civilians by sarin gas in Idlibe, Syria was a false-flag operation undertaken to discredit Putin and his client, Bashar al-Assad. The rest of the world will believe the findings of international investigators that Syrian jets dropped bombs on the Syrian town, killing some 80 men, women and children with chemical poison gas. Putin’s job, however, is not to convince the world– but the Russian people — that client Assad is a victim of a vast conspiracy mounted by a combination of agents from the U.S., ISIS, Turkey and hostile Sunni states.

The Kremlin has already demonstrated its ability to convince the Russian people that an open-and-shut case, backed by an air-tight international investigation, was in fact a sinister U.S., CIA, NATO, Ukrainian false-flag operation to blame the Kremlin for the murder of 298 innocent passengers aboard Malaysian Airlines 17 flight over occupied Donetsk territory on July 17, 2014. This Syrian business should be easy to defuse compared to MH17.

Consider the MH17 evidence: Minutes after MH17 was downed, the rebel commander boasted on social media that his missiles had shot down a Ukrainian military plane. Insurgents on the crash scene reported with shock that it was a civilian plane. Phone intercepts captured communications as the missile crew was directed to the field from which it fired the missile. Social media posted pictures of the missile system fleeing back into Russia. Forensic evidence proved that the plane was downed by a missile (and not a trailing Ukrainian jet).

Within hours of MH17, the Kremlin mounted an incessant campaign to cast doubt on the overwhelming evidence. The Russian military staged a press conference with photoshopped images, false radar readings, reports of a Ukrainian pilot admitting he had shot down the plane, and fables that MH17 was loaded with dead bodies or that the attack was an assassination attempt on Vladimir Putin. As Russian denials mounted, the Dutch-based international investigations team appealed to the UN to create an international MH17 criminal tribunal to charge those Russians and rebels responsible for crimes against humanity. Russia vetoed the proposal in the Security Council, thereby indirectly admitting its guilt.

Russia’s campaign to deny the obvious paid off. Per the latest opinion poll, only 5% of Russians blame Russia and its separatist allies for MH17. Half believe MH17 was downed by Ukrainian forces, and 14% say it was Western special services. On the other hand, 80% of Americans believe that MH17 was shot down by a Russian missile and 84% hold Russia directly or indirectly responsible.

Fast forward to the Syrian gas attack: Within hours, Putin’s press secretary floated the false-flag theory (backed by the Russian defense ministry) that the Syrian air force unwittingly exploded a local chemical weapons depot as it dropped conventional bombs. The chemical weapons, per the Russian spokesman, had been brought into Idlibe from Iraq. The Assad government took up this line of argument stating the poison gas was released after its military planes dropped conventional bombs on a local terrorist arms depot, which happened to contain chemical weapons.

An investigation of these competing claims could be conducted rather quickly. A storage facility full of sarin gas could presumably be identified and detected by technical experts, and the facility would have to be in a crater caused by a Syrian bomb. If there is no evidence of a local chemical weapons storage depot, then the Russian-Syrian false flag story falls apart. Although Syria has offered international inspectors access to its Shayrat air force base, presumably they have had time to remove traces of poison gas.

Despite this simple procedure for assigning responsibility, Putin will clearly be able to convince his people that his client is being framed and that Russia is not backing a monster. Putin can cite the support of the “Bush lied about Iraq’s WMD” crowd, who argue that President Trump acted too hastily without adequate evidence. “Manchurian candidate Trump” adherents will argue that the bombing was a diversion arranged between soul mates Trump and Putin to divert attention from their conspiracies. Putin will even find allies among U.S. isolationists upset by Trump’s intervention in a foreign war.

The Kremlin had to fight the entire international community in convincing the Russian people that Russia was blameless in the shooting down of MH17. In the case of the Idlibe chemical weapons attack, Putin has a formidable army of Western skeptics on his side. Few understand that in such cases Putin’s primary objective is to keep the Russian people on his side. If he can convince the international community, so much the better. With anti-Trump supporters the world over potentially on his side, Putin has a chance of winning not only Russian minds but Western minds as well.

In their April 12 meeting, the foreign ministers of Russia and the United States agreed to a UN investigation of the Idlibe bombing. Russia will pressure its allies into a long and inconclusive exercise and will ignore results that point to blame of the Assad regime.



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U.S. Ill-Prepared to Stop Widespread Russian Information Warfare

Clint Watts testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee March 30 / Getty Images

Washington Free Beacon, by Bill Gertz, April 4, 2017:

Russia is engaged in wide-ranging information warfare operations aimed at undermining the United States, and the federal government has few defenses against the attacks, information specialists told a Senate hearing last week.

Moscow’s large-scale operations include the covert attempt to sway the 2016 presidential election and dissemination of false news reports to sow confusion and weaken American democracy, according to testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Thursday.

The committee hearing was called as part of an investigation into the Russian campaign to influence the 2016 election.

In addition to the hacking and leaking campaign during the election, Russian intelligence agencies engaged in covert influence operations that falsely reported terrorist attacks in the United States and against the key U.S. military base in Incirlik, Turkey.

The Russian government also backed the Occupy Wall Street protest movement and trumpeted racially charged news to sow social unrest.

The federal government has been unable to stop Moscow’s propaganda and influence operations. Likewise, it has failed to counter cyber attacks aimed at stealing data or sabotaging critical networks.

“Americans should be concerned because right now a foreign country, whether they realize it or not, is pitting them against their neighbor, other political parties, ramping up divisions based on things that aren’t true,” said Clint Watts, a cyber security expert and former FBI special agent.

Russian information warfare operations seek to erode Americans’ trust in the government.

“If they can do that, if Americans don’t believe that their vote counts, they’re not going to show up to participate in democracy,” said Watts, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

Retired Gen. Keith Alexander, former director of the National Security Agency, said the United States lacks a strategy for dealing with information warfare and adequate defenses for protecting private sector infrastructure from attacks.

“The consequence is if there were a massive attack, we’d have to go back and get authority to act,” Alexander said. “Where, if it were missiles coming in, we already have rules of engagement. So, I think we need to step that up as well.”

Alexander, who once led the military’s Cyber Command, lamented that the military “wouldn’t have the right people set up to react” to a major cyber attack.

“The American public, indeed all democratic societies, need to understand that malign actors are using old techniques with new platforms to undermine our democratic institutions,” said Sen. Richard Burr (R., N.C.), the committee chairman.

“We’re all targets of a sophisticated and capable adversary and we must engage in a whole of government approach to combat Russian active measures,” Burr added.

“Active measures” is the term used to describe asymmetric warfare activities that combine propaganda and media disinformation with cyber operations to achieve foreign policy objectives.

The Russian election campaign hacked key political figures and institutions, notably the Democratic National Committee. A U.S. intelligence community assessment of the influence campaign concluded in January that the Russians sought to discredit Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and assist Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Cyber attacks were carried out by the FSB civilian security service backed by hackers working for the GRU military spy agency.

Information obtained from the cyber attacks was leaked to Russian-affiliated news outlets and WikiLeaks using a Russian online persona called Guccifer 2.0. Russian intelligence also exploited state-linked propaganda outlets RT and Sputnik to spread false information aimed at sowing discord in America.

The Russian government was able to manipulate key social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook to cause topics favorable to Moscow’s policies to trend on the Internet. Russia employs thousands of Internet trolls and botnet computers to tilt social media trends in its favor.

Cyber security expert Thomas Rid said the Russians use Internet trolls and botnets to flood the zone with disinformation during influence operations.

“The Russians were able to flood the zone, actually not in a broad-based [way] across the whole country, but literally target it down to precinct levels in certain states,” he said.

The operations succeeded in fooling major mainstream media outlets into parroting Russian disinformation against the United States.

Russia is using many of the same tactics against American allies in Europe and is expected to resume its disinformation campaign in the United States ahead of future elections.

FBI Director James Comey disclosed to Congress on March 20 that bureau counterintelligence agents are investigating links between Trump campaign aides and the Russian government. So far, no evidence of such links has surfaced.

Eugene Rumer, former U.S. national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia between 2010 and 2014, testified that it is not necessary to publicly disclose technical evidence of Russian election meddling.

“It is the totality of Russian efforts in plain sight to mislead, to misinform, to exaggerate that is more convincing than any cyber evidence,” Rumer said. “RT, Russia Today, broadcasts, internet trolls, fake news and so on are an integral part of Russian foreign policy to date.”

Rumer said Russia remains weak militarily despite modernization and a growing nuclear arsenal. However, he noted that “Russian leaders have embraced a different toolkit, information warfare, intimidation, espionage, economic tools, and so on.”

The Russian influence campaign is viewed by Moscow as an unqualified success, he added.

“The payoffs include but are not limited to, one, a major distraction to the United States, for the United States, damage to U.S. leadership in the world, and perhaps most importantly the demonstration effect: If the Kremlin can do this to the world’s sole remaining global superpower imagine how other countries see it,” Rumer said.

Other Russian influence campaigns have included efforts to skew online White House petitions, such as a petition calling for Alaska to be returned to Russia, spread false claims the military is preparing for martial law in the United States, and sow hatred and discord by backing the Black Lives Matter protests and land disputes in the western United States.

“Russia hopes to win the second Cold War through the force of politics, as opposed to the politics of forces,” Watts said.

He added that Russia’s goal is to topple democracies by undermining governments, fostering social division, and creating confusion about information sources by blurring the lines between fact and fiction.

Russian disinformation has included political messages and propaganda aimed at tarnishing leaders and institutions, especially financial markets and capitalist economies.

The Russians also have used “gray” propaganda outlets that promote conspiracy theories and are financed and led by Russians.

Russian propaganda promoted a false story on July 30 that the U.S. air base in Incirlik, Turkey, which stores nuclear weapons, had been overrun by terrorists. More than 4,000 tweets were used to promote the false Russian disinformation.

Watts said the U.S. intelligence community has failed to deal with disinformation and is overly focused on terrorism and counterintelligence.

“The U.S., in failing to respond to active measures, will surrender its position as the world’s leader, forgo its role as chief promoter and defender of democracy, and give up on over 70 years of collective action to preserve freedom and civil liberties around the world,” Watts said.

“The intel community in the United States is very biased against open source information,” he said. “And has been surprised repeatedly.”

Social media companies and journalists also are failing to deal with foreign disinformation.

“The media needs to improve. Our U.S. government institutions need to improve and we got to help Americans understand what the facts are, because if we don’t, we are lost,” Watt said.

“We’ll become two separate, maybe three separate worlds in the United States just because of this little bitty pinprick that was put in by a foreign country.”

The State Department and Department of Homeland Security need to create mechanisms capable of rapidly refuting disinformation, he said.

Watts said the Russians are winning at cyber and information warfare because they have “great propagandists” and hackers.

“We, on the other hand, worry a lot about who we’re going to bring into the cyber field because they might have smoked weed one day or they can’t pass a security clearance,” he said.

Kevin Mandia, head of the cyber security firm FireEye, said technical analysis of the Russian cyber intrusions revealed sophisticated malware and techniques used by Moscow in its cyber attacks.

“So there is a huge infrastructure, comprised of machines or false fronts or organizations that are used for these attacks,” he said. “And we found over 500 of those. We’ve analyzed over 70 lure documents written in many different languages. And these are the documents that you receive during a spear phishing [attack], and they’re armed documents.”

Alexander said the United States needs to engage Russia diplomatically while confronting it using intelligence capabilities.

“We have to come up with a way of sharing threat intelligence information at network speed and practicing what our government and industry do together and work that with our allies,” Alexander said.

“I believe we can do this and protect civil liberties and privacy,” he said. “I think we often convolve those two, but we can actually separate and show that you can do both.”

Warfare goes digital in the 21st century

Cyber Warfare Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Washington Times, b, March 29, 2017:

Russia’s intelligence service hacks Democratic Party computer networks and puts out stolen emails in a bid to influence the 2016 election. China says it owns 90 percent of the South China Sea and begins building military bases under a vague historical claim to the strategic waterway. Iranian hackers break into American banks and a water control computer network at an upstate New York dam. Welcome to the new form of conflict in the 21st century: information warfare.

American adversaries have found asymmetric ways to attack and are waging sophisticated information warfare operations — both technical cyber-attacks and soft power influence and disinformation campaigns designed to achieve strategic objectives.

The U.S. government remains completely ignorant of the threat and lacks ways to deal with this new form of warfare. The Cold War-era U.S. Information Agency (USIA), the last semi-autonomous agency used for promoting America was disbanded in 1999. Its functions were folded into the State Department and the result has been diplomacy-impaired information programs.

The government also remains stuck with the 20th century role of “telling America’s story” while adversaries are spending billions on cable propaganda and other outlets are seek discredit and denigrate the United States.

There also are no effective institutions for countering lies and deception by foreign states. When pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine’s Donbass region in 2014 launched a Russian Buk surface-to-air missile against a Malaysian Airlines passenger jet, killing all 283 people on board, Russia’s extensive propaganda Wurlitzer swung into action. RT, the state-run cable propaganda outlet successfully muted criticism of Russia by putting out sophisticated misinformation. The Russian narrative argued the jetliner was downed by a Ukrainian surface-to-air missile or by air-to-air cannon fire. Moscow even supplied forged satellite imagery found to have been taken from a video game to bolster its false claim that an air-to-air missile took down the jet.

The disinformation sowed confusion and doubt in the West. To date, Moscow has paid no price for its role in the crime.

For the past eight years under President Obama, the U.S. government largely ignored these new and increasingly sophisticated information warfare threats. The Obama administration’s operating assumption was that in the cosmopolitan world, nation-state enemies don’t really exist. The only real foes are the extremist terror groups like the Islamic State.

Yet the entire U.S.-led conflict against terror groups like al Qaeda and the Islamic State has relied heavily on kinetic military and intelligence strikes while farming out to questionable Middle East states the ideological counter-ideological warfare programs designed to discredit the Islamist political narrative motivating terrorists’ campaigns of suicide bombings, beheadings, sex slavery and other atrocities.

“Cyberwarfare and influence campaigns that are being waged against our country represent a national security challenge of generational proportions,” said Rep. Elise Stefanik, New York Republican and chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on emerging threats. “Our core values of truth, democratic principles, and self-determination are under assault,” Ms. Stefanik said at hearing on information warfare earlier this month.

Experts at the hearing testified that the U.S. government lacks an understanding of the threat posed by foreign information warfare, and also has no strategy for countering it.

“Continuing to get this wrong is a threat to our national security, to our economic growth and to our very standing as a world leader,” said Matthew Armstrong, a former official involved in government radio broadcasting and associate fellow in King’s College Center for Strategic Communications.

Mr. Armstrong said he was told by a Russian information official that state-run RT broadcasts would have no audience in the United States “if the American media was doing their jobs.”

The failure of America’s news media in this sphere stems of the Balkanization of news outlets. Coverage by mainstream press outlets today is biased by three central liberal narratives of gender identity, racial issues and climate change, while the conservative media outlets are heavily weighted toward opinion and lack a needed hard news focus.

By contrast, authoritarian regimes suffer no similar fate. They are focused laserlike on promoting propaganda narratives to support strategic goals. For China, it is managing Beijing’s perceived decline of the U.S. superpower. Stealing 22 million records from the Office of Personnel Management supports a covert Big Data program to target the United States for both espionage and influence activities.

For Russia, America remains the main target of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin’s vision of pursuing a pan-Eurasian Russian power that is embattled on all sides by a U.S.-led liberal democratic international cabal.

North Korea’s 2014 cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment over the ribald film “The Interview” aimed at attacking the film industry and choking off American freedom of expression by threatening with terror attacks movie theaters that showed the film. Meanwhile, Pyongyang was given free rein to develop nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems unimpeded — to perpetuate its crimes-against-humanity regime with a growing arsenal of nuclear missiles.

Iran’s information operations are designed to further the strategic goals of the Islamist regime, the world’s deadliest state sponsor of global terrorism, as Tehran works to emerge from the chaos of the Middle East as the dominant regional power.

Social media have emerged as another platform in the forefront of information warfare as terrorists use Twitter, Facebook and other outlets to recruit terrorists and spread propaganda.

These foreign information warfare programs are growing in both scale and sophistication while American public diplomacy and counter-disinformation efforts remain minuscule.

The Trump administration urgently needs to recreate a new USIA for the digital age, something I call “Information America.”

This new institution can be established as a government entity similar to the USIA, or a nongovernmental organization funded by philanthropists. A third option would be set up Information America as hybrid government/private-sector organization.

Its mission should be to use truth and facts to counter lies and disinformation. Information America also must begin anew to promote fundamental American ideals and values.

Outgoing Director of National Intelligence James Clapper agreed on the need for a new information entity, something he recently called “a USIA on steroids to fight this information war a lot more aggressively than I think we’re doing right now.”

The first step should be setting up a blue-ribbon panel of information experts — government officials, journalists and others — to quickly formulate a plan for Information America.

The task is urgent in a world filled with violence and hatred. Effective information-based capabilities should become a top priority of the new Trump administration. These programs offer the promise of solving some of the world’s most pressing problems through the use of information as a strategic tool to promote peace and freedom.

• Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and author of “iWar: War and Peace in the Information Age” (Threshold Editions, 2017).

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