Starting Tuesday Iran’s gas station network saw many thousands of stations go offline as Iranians across the country were unable to use government-electronic cards for government subsidized gas due to a massive cyberattack on the online system that allows payment processing.
The network was reportedly down for at least 12 hours, with some gas stations being disabled for days – and almost 1,000 still disabled into the weekend, sparking widespread anger as long lines formed and fuel was urgently sold at greatly marked-up cash prices. Amid an ongoing Iranian investigation, a top Iranian general is the earliest to lay direct blame on Israel and America for the crippling cyberattack.
“From our point of view, this attack has definitely been carried out by the Americans and the Zionists,” said Brig. Gen. Gholam Reza Jalali, who serves chief of the Civil Defense Organization of Iran head.
He was quoted in Iran’s semi-official Tasnim News Agency as saying further that “Serious infrastructural cyber warfare has started.” He urged, “We should take it seriously and rectify our areas of weakness.”
“We are still unable to say forensically, but analytically I believe it was carried out by the Zionist Regime, the Americans and their agents,” Jalali said in the state TV in an interview of the ongoing investigation. The influential general explained that this fresh cyberattack resembles to prior ones where authorities concluded Israeli and US covert involvement:
Tuesday’s attack “technically” resembles two previous incidents whose perpetrators “were unquestionably our enemies, namely the United States and the Zionist regime”, the Revolutionary Guards’ Gholamreza Jalali said.
“We have analysed two incidents, the railway accident and the Shahid Rajaei port accident, and we found that they were similar,” Jalali, who heads a civil defense unit responsible for cyber activity, told state television late Saturday.
As of Saturday, the AFP reports that “Around 3,200 of the country’s 4,300 service stations have since been reconnected to the central distribution system, the National Oil Products Distribution Company said, quoted Saturday by state news agency IRNA.”
Neither Washington nor Tel Aviv have yet to address the new Iranian charges, which in the past have tended to go unanswered. There’s also the possibility of well-funded Iranian opposition and dissident groups, namely the MEK, or “People’s Mujahedin of Iran” – which has itself been known to work with Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency. It also has support from American politicians, with former Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday speaking at an MEK conference in D.C.