Justice Department officials said the agency has seized 27 domain names Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) illegally used to expand a global covert influence campaign.
The seizures represent a step against Iran’s worldwide disinformation campaign, indicating each of the 27 domains were being used in violation of domestic sanctions targeting both the Iranian government and the IRGC.
The Justice Department noted four domains purported to be genuine news outlets but were actually controlled by the IRGC and targeted audiences in the United States and the remainder targeted audiences in other parts of the world.
“Within the last month we have announced seizures of Iran’s weapons, fuel, and covert influence infrastructure,” John C. Demers, assistant attorney general for National Security, said. “As long as Iran’s leaders are trying to destabilize the world through the state-sponsorship of terrorism and the taking of hostages, we will continue to enforce U.S. sanctions and take other legal steps to counter them.”
Authorities said the seizure warrant issued on Nov. 3, 2020, detailed how the 27 seized domain names were being operated in violation of federal law, adding the IRGC’s control of the domains violated the International Emergency and Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR) prohibiting U.S. persons from providing services to the Government of Iran without a license.
“The FBI is aggressively investigating any evidence of foreign influence and the unlawful spread of disinformation by hostile nations,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Craig D. Fair said. “We seized 27 additional domains that Iran’s IRGC was illegally using in attempt to manipulate public opinion in other countries, including the United States.