Iranian media reported on Monday a cyber attack on the portal of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance (Ershad) and its affiliated websites.
Hackers published photos of Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) leaders Maryam and Masoud Rajavi on the website, as well as a photo of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei with a large red X on his face.
The MEK website claimed “Rebel groups” supporting them had defaced 62 portals, 77 servers, 280 ministry computers and deleted 30 terabits of data including backup files of all ministry servers in Tehran and several provinces. According to the report, the ministry sent all employees home because of the system damage until further notice.
While Masoud Rajavi is widely believed to be dead, the MEK insists he is merely in hiding, awaiting his return to Iran. The MEK allied with Saddam Hussein during the 1980-88 Iran war and helped the Iraqi dictator crush the 1991 uprisings in Iraq that left tens of thousands dead.
In 2003, the MEK fought with Iraqi forces against the US-led invasion, according to the US Army’s official account, but despite Iraqi demands to hold the group accountable for human rights abuses, the US moved the MEK from bases in Iraq in 2013 to Albania, where They run a well-funded media and social media operation.
In January, an MEK spokesman said a 10-second hack of several Iranian state broadcaster TV and radio channels may have been carried out by supporters inside Iran. The hackers targeted images of the Rajavis and one of Khamenei. The Iranian leader was badly wounded in 1981 in one of the many bombings attributed to the MEK.
On February 1st IRIB’s web-based streaming platform, Telewebionwas kidnapped in the middle of a live broadcast of the soccer match between Iran and the United Arab Emirates and called for rebellion as “the regime’s foundations are shaking”.
In August 2021, a mysterious hacktivist group known as Tapandegan (heart palpitations), previously known for hacking electronic flight arrival and departure boards in Mashhad and Tabriz in 2018, released surveillance camera footage from Evin prison in Tehran. Tapandegan said the images came from hackers named Edalat-e Ali (Ali’s Justice) and were being distributed to draw attention to prisoner abuse.
In October 2021, petrol stations in Iran were hit by an attack that disrupted payment transactions, resulting in long queues for two days preventing customers from using government-issued electronic fuel cards. “Predatory Sparrow” claimed responsibility, but Iranian officials blamed external forces in what is widely believed to be a reference to Israel.
The MEK was listed as a “foreign terrorist organization” by the US from 1997 to 2012, but was later delisted. The group has maintained connections with many politicians in the US and Europe, pay large sums to participate or speaking at MEK rallies.