Philippines’ Duterte offers troops to Jordan to fight militants

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, right, and Jordanian King Abdullah II of Jordan review an honor guard at the Husseiniya palace in Amman on Thursday, September 6. (AP)
Updated 07 September 2018
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Philippines’ Duterte offers troops to Jordan to fight militants

  • Both countries have been battling Daesh’s influence, with Jordan playing a key role in an international coalition
  • ‘You need one battalion... I will send them to you. I will commit my government in the right side of history’

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has offered to send troops to Jordan to help combat militants, after agreeing to deepen military cooperation with the Middle Eastern nation to fight extremism.
Both countries have been battling Daesh’s influence, with Jordan playing a key role in an international coalition, and the Philippines on alert after a five-month occupation of a city by militant rebels — its worst conflict since World War Two.
“If there is anything that we can do, if you are short in your army, let me know,” Duterte said on Thursday at a business forum in Amman in a comment to King Abdullah, who earlier lamented the “evil” both states were facing.
“You need one battalion... I will send them to you. I will commit my government in the right side of history.”
King Abdullah is an important Middle East ally of Western powers, with Jordan playing a prominent role in the US-led coalition against Daesh, providing military, logistical and intelligence support.
Earlier this year, Jordan announced it will provide the Philippines with two Cobra attack helicopters to help fight insurgents.
Duterte is on a six-day visit to Jordan and Israel, and his activities have been broadcast in the Philippines. He has signed agreements with Israeli companies to buy small arms, armored vehicles, and surveillance and reconnaissance equipment.


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 9 min 33 sec ago
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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.