Suicide bombing in Libya’s Misrata leaves 4 dead

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Updated 04 October 2017
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Suicide bombing in Libya’s Misrata leaves 4 dead

TRIPOLI: At least four people were killed Wednesday in a Daesh suicide bomb attack at the main court building in Libya’s third-largest city Misrata, security officials told AFP.
The officials said a suicide bomber was able to detonate an explosive vest inside the building in the center of Misrata, a coastal city about 200 km east of Tripoli.
Three men belonging to Daesh “carried out a suicide attack against the court complex in Misrata... killing four people and wounding 15 others,” Gen. Mohammed Ghassri, a spokesman for armed forces in Misrata that are loyal to the country’s internationally backed government, told AFP.
He said the three men got out of a vehicle and one was able to push his way into the building and set off explosives. Of the other two, one was shot dead and the other arrested, Ghassri said.
Misrata is home to powerful armed forces who were the backbone of an offensive that routed Daesh from the coastal city of Sirte in December 2016.
That offensive was backed by Libya’s UN-endorsed Government of National Accord (GNA), one of two main rival governments that emerged from the chaos that followed the 2011 ouster of long-time strongman Muammar Qaddafi.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility from Daesh for Wednesday’s attack, but the militant group remains a force in Libya despite losing control of Sirte.
Many of its fighters have redeployed to the country’s vast and lawless desert south.
The US military last month carried out a wave of air strikes on Daesh in Libya, killing 17 people on Sept. 22 at a desert camp 240 km southeast of Sirte.
The US Africa command said the camp was used to move militants in and out of the country, store weapons and plot attacks.
In August, Daesh claimed responsibility for an attack in which 11 people were beheaded at a checkpoint manned by forces loyal to military strongman Khalifa Haftar.
Nine soldiers and two civilians were killed in that attack in the Al-Jufra region about 500 km south of Tripoli.
Haftar supports an eastern-based administration that is a rival to the GNA.


Cybersecurity firm: More Iran hacks as US sanctions loom

Alister Shepherd, the director of a subsidiary of FireEye, during a presentation about the APT33 in Dubai Tuesday. (AP)
Updated 20 September 2018
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Cybersecurity firm: More Iran hacks as US sanctions loom

  • The firm warns that this raises the danger level ahead of America re-imposing crushing sanctions on Iran’s oil industry in early November.
  • Iran’s mission to the UN rejected FireEye’s report, calling it “categorically false.”

DUBAI: An Iranian government-aligned group of hackers launched a major campaign targeting Mideast energy firms and others ahead of US sanctions on Iran, a cybersecurity firm said Tuesday, warning further attacks remain possible as America reimposes others on Tehran.

While the firm FireEye says the so-called “spear-phishing” email campaign only involves hackers stealing information from infected computers, it involves a similar type of malware previously used to inject a program that destroyed tens of thousands of terminals in Saudi Arabia.

The firm warns that this raises the danger level ahead of America re-imposing crushing sanctions on Iran’s oil industry in early November.

“Whenever we see Iranian threat groups active in this region, particularly in line with geopolitical events, we have to be concerned they might either be engaged in or pre-positioning for a disruptive attack,” Alister Shepherd, a director for a FireEye subsidiary, told The Associated Press.

Iran’s mission to the UN rejected FireEye’s report, calling it “categorically false.”

“Iran’s cyber capabilities are purely defensive, and these claims made by private firms are a form of false advertising designed to attract clients,” the mission said in a statement. “They should not be taken at face value.”

FireEye, which often works with governments and large corporations, refers to the group of Iranian hackers as APT33, an acronym for “advanced persistent threat.” APT33 used phishing email attacks with fake job opportunities to gain access to the companies affected, faking domain names to make the messages look legitimate. Analysts described the emails as “spear-phishing” as they appear targeted in nature.

FireEye first discussed the group last year around the same time. This year, the company briefed journalists after offering presentations to potential government clients in Dubai at a luxury hotel and yacht club on the man-made, sea-horse-shaped Daria Island.

While acknowledging their sales pitch, FireEye warned of the danger such Iranian government-aligned hacking groups pose. Iran is believed to be behind the spread of Shamoon in 2012, which hit Saudi Arabian Oil Co. and Qatari natural gas producer RasGas. The virus deleted hard drives and then displayed a picture of a burning American flag on computer screens. Saudi Aramco ultimately shut down its network and destroyed over 30,000 computers.

A second version of Shamoon raced through Saudi government computers in late 2016, this time making the destroyed computers display a photograph of the body of 3-year-old Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi, who drowned fleeing his country’s civil war.

But Iran first found itself as a victim of a cyberattack. Iran developed its cyber capabilities in 2011 after the Stuxnet computer virus destroyed thousands of centrifuges involved in Iran’s contested nuclear program. Stuxnet is widely believed to be an American and Israeli creation.

APT33’s emails haven’t been destructive. However, from July 2 through July 29, FireEye saw “a by-factors-of-10 increase” in the number of emails the group sent targeting their clients, Shepherd said.