(CNN) – US authorities increase vigilance and strengthen defenses while Iran warns of “severe revenge” after attack of a US drone on Friday, which dropped Qasem Soleimani, the powerful commander of the country’s Quds Force.
The great US climbing, performed in Baghdad As tensions in the region erupted after the Iran-backed siege of the US embassy in Iraq, it has inevitably invited Iranian reprisals, experts say, and national security officials in the US. they are preparing for attacks on multiple fronts, including US outposts abroad, targets in U.S and in cyberspace.
Law enforcement officials said there is no evidence of an active or imminent plot within the US, but local police in cities across the country announced Friday they were strengthening patrols to defend against possible attacks on Following the death of the Iranian military leader or even the activation of possible terrorist networks planted by Iran in the United States and around the world.
Meanwhile, FBI anti-terrorist investigators review possible threats from supporters of Hezbollah, the Iran-backed militia, whose wide reach extends beyond middle East to Europe, South America and the US, according to current and former US law enforcement officials.
Investigators keep track of investigations and redouble attention to suspects already on the FBI radar, to determine if they require deeper scrutiny, a US official said.
“Iran has a worldwide reach through its clandestine networks and is capable of performing asymmetric operations against its enemies: terrorism, war of power, assassinations and kidnappings,” said Christopher Costa, former principal director of the fight against terrorism in the Security Council National under the Trump administration, who now runs the International Spy Museum in Washington.
Hezbollah is believed to have secretly accumulated explosive hiding places in the West for possible attacks on soft targets, and US prosecutors have filed charges against Iranians and people linked to Hezbollah who were allegedly gathering intelligence information in vulnerable public places in the US.
In 2017, the Department of Justice accused two men of silently supporting the terrorist group for more than a decade while living discrete lives in the country.
However, a major concern is the possible threats to diplomats and members of the US service, as well as to US citizens living in the Middle East, where Iran could organize an attack more easily, according to a law enforcement officer. and national security experts.
Iran and its allies, particularly Hezbollah, have a history of attacks, including the bombing of Khobar Towers trucks in Saudi Arabia that killed members of the US military in 1996.
Hezbollah and Iran-supported groups were also behind a series of bombings from the early to mid-1990s, targeting Jewish organizations and Israeli diplomatic facilities in Argentina and elsewhere.
The group has a strong network of supporters who provide fundraising and other assistance in the US. and other countries.
Concern among US authorities has been that Hezbollah supporters could carry out attacks if tensions between the US and Iran accumulate in a wider conflict, current and former law enforcement officials say.
Senior officials of the Department of Homeland Security met in Washington after the News of the US attack to assess possible new threats and responses from the agency, which oversees much of the defense of critical infrastructure points across the country, DHS interim secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement.
Senior officials of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) met in Washington after news of the US attack broke out to assess possible new threats and responses from the agency, which oversees much of the defense of Critical infrastructure points across the country, DHS interim secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement.
Iran has constantly expanded its capabilities in cyberspace, experts say. Once seen as a third level digital power, the country is now considered at least a second level player, according to Adam Segal, director of the program politics digital and cyberspace of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Although it lacks the impact of countries like China and Russia in space, Iran is sufficiently capable of “causing serious damage” to the United States and its numerous civilian targets, said Peter W. Singer, strategist at the New America Foundation and the author of An upcoming book on infrastructure attacks. And, he added, Iran will not have to bother to hide its activities.
In the past, Iran has largely maintained its cyberspace offenses limited to the Middle East. But the country has increasingly investigated Western nations for vulnerabilities.
In 2015, US intelligence officials said Iran was behind a cyber attack in 2014 on US casinos partly owned by billionaire Sheldon Adelson. The attack resulted in the theft of credit card data, Social Security numbers and driver’s license information.
A year later, in 2016, the US government He accused 7 Iranians of hacking dozens of US banks in 2012 and 2013, claiming damage for millions of dollars. The attacks raised concerns that much of the critical infrastructure in the United States (power networks, water systems and more) could be at risk.
Now, experts say that an Iranian cyber attack in retaliation for the death of Soleimani is a “real possibility.”
“The big question is whether they will do something symbolic, such as bank attacks, or try both a symbolic and a harmful one, as they did with the Sands (casinos),” said James Lewis, director of the technology policy program at the Center for Studies Strategic and international
While Iran is planning its next steps, experts warned that the country is likely to act slowly and with an eye on a longer-term response.
“The Iranians are determined not to fall into a conventional war with the United States, one they will lose. They want to participate in a long-term and low-grade battle with the United States, which I think they can win, ”said Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East Program at CSIS.