Lieberman Theorizes Iran’s Quds Force behind Recent Cyberattacks on Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase

Melanie Arter | September 27, 2012 | 11:05am EDT
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In this Dec. 18, 2010 file photo, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., speaks during a news conference in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

( – Senate Homeland Security Chairman Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) theorized that Iran’s Quds force is behind the recent cyber attack on Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase.

“I think that this was done by Iran and the Quds Force, which has its own developing cyber attack capacity, and I believe it was a response to the increasingly strong economic sanctions that the United States and our European allies have put on Iranian financial institutions,” he said during an appearance on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” on Sunday.

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“Lately, there have been increased reports of activity – cyber activity coming out of Iran aimed at critical sectors in the United States. How concerned are you about that increased activity and what can you tell us about it in terms of where, what they’re after and how serious is it?” Washington Post National Reporter Ellen Nakashima asked Lieberman.

Lieberman said the U.S. is under “constant cyber attack” – including large parts of the nation’s infrastructure that are privately owned, like telecommunications, the electric power grid, and finance.

“That’s why we work so hard for the cyber security legislation, but the recent cyber attacks on some major American financial institutions including the Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase are just a powerful example of our vulnerability,” he said.

Lieberman said the attacks were explained on an Islamist extremist website last week as a reaction to the anti-Muslim video.

“Now the fact is that on a(n) Islamist extremist website a few days ago, these attacks were announced. They were explained – that is the intention to attack the banks and the New York Stock Exchange was announced – they were explained as a reaction again to the anti-Muslim video,” Lieberman said.

“I don’t believe that these were just hackers who were skilled enough to break in, to cause a disruption of the websites, the cyberspace of Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase,” he added.

Lieberman theorized that the Quds Force, which is a special unit of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard, was behind the cyber attack in response to U.S. sanctions against Iran’s financial institutions.

“So it’s, if you will a counter-attack by Iran against American cyber attack, against American financial institutions in my opinion - this is a theory, but I think it has a basis - in response to our economic sanctions against the Iranian financial institutions.

“In any case, it wasn’t a very sophisticated attack. It was a denial of service attack, which means basically, you overload a website. The Russians did this a few years back to Estonia, but it had an effect. It disrupted access to those sites for awhile,” he added.

Lieberman said he talked to “individuals about this, and it gives me some encouragement in my own belief that these attacks on JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America websites were not just done by random hackers but that the Iranian regime – the Quds force – was behind this.”

He said that the cyber attack was “in all probability - and here it’s more of a theory – a response to the U.S. sanctions against Iranian financial institutions, but it reminds us of our vulnerability, which is part of why they’re doing it.”

“And it’s a warning to us that if we take action against their nuclear development weapons, development program that they have the capacity to strike back at us, but obviously, we can’t be fearful,” Lieberman said.

“Once the U.S. begins to get fearful of counter acts if we take action to protect our security, then we’re on the road to a much weaker and less safe and less free America,” he added.

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