Dec 23, 2020 - World

Report: Iran online drive targeted officials debunking Trump election claims

FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks during a virtual news conference at the Department of Justice on October 28, 2020 in Washington, DC.
FBI Director Christopher Wray during an October news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Investigators found Iran was behind an online drive to incite lethal violence against FBI Director Chris Wray and other officials who refuted President Trump and his supporters' baseless election claims, the Washington Post first reported Tuesday.

Why it matters: The FBI's findings on the "Enemies of the People" site, which outlets report included officials' addresses and other personal details with photos of them featuring crosshairs, indicate Iran has tried to cause discord in the U.S. before and after the election.

Details: Other targets on the now-defunct site and associated social media posts include former election security official Chris Krebs, who was fired by Trump after debunking election misinformation, alongside false claims about the result, WashPost notes.

  • Also featured were two GOP governors who certified President-elect Joe Biden's win: Arizona's Doug Ducey and Georgia's Brian Kemp, per the Wall Street Journal.
  • Disinformation was also spread on the site against voting machine companies, with far-right social media users calling for a 20-year-old Dominion Voting Systems worker's "imprisonment, torture or execution," with one post featuring an "animated image of a hanging noose," WashPost reports.

Of note: Another Dominion worker is suing the Trump campaign and others for for spreading false conspiracy theories, while Kemp said last week that pro-Trump conspiracy theorists had threatened his family.

What they're saying: WashPost obtained a statement from the FBI sent to officials featured on the site saying it had "highly credible information indicating Iranian advanced persistent threat actors were almost certainly responsible for the creation" of the site "containing death threats aimed at U.S. election officials in mid-December 2020."

  • The FBI did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

For the record: Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said in October that Iran had sent threatening emails to Democratic voters in the U.S. and spreading videos claiming people could vote more than once.

  • Iran at the time denied it was trying to interfere in the U.S. presidential election.
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