Asif Ghafoor: The Gerasimov of South Asia – The Print

Published by The Print:
https://theprint.in/opinion/an-adversary-india-has-paid-little-attention-to-pakistan-armys-public-relations-wing/215740/.

With Facebook taking down pages linked to Pakistani cyber actors spreading disinformation in India ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, it’s becoming increasingly clear that India has been late in spotting the danger: if there is a Pakistani inter-services directorate as lethal as the Inter Services Intelligence, it is, undoubtedly, the Inter-Services Public Relations.

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Pakistan’s asymmetric advantage in the post-Pulwama information battlespace

Read the full piece: Asif Ghafoor: The Gerasimov of South Asia

Cyber analysts like me have been this envisioning this scenario since a decade: how the South Asian flashpoint would manifest itself in the cyber-enabled information battlespace.

If there’s one inter-services directorate that is as lethal as the Inter-Services Intelligence, it’s the Inter-Services Public Relations. I know, I know — most of you would balk at my comparison. Hear me out:

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Ayatollah Khomeini’s ‘soft war’ hits the Indian hinterland – Part II

On January 31, 2019, Twitter released the second dataset on the ongoing cyber-enabled influence operations targeting various nations, including India.

It led me to write this Part II of my earlier report on the Iranian disinformation campaign which weaponised prevailing political polarisation in India. The Part I is here: Planet-scale influence operation strikes at the heart of polarised Indian polity.

TL;DR: In this piece, I will arrive at certain definitive conclusions on the actors’ intent as well as directly attribute parts of the operation to a soft war/propaganda arm of the Iranian government. This is not an attempt at domestic sabotage but a desperate bid to propagate a counter-narrative — as Iran feels suffocated by the Western media’s discourse, portraying it in a uni-dimensional way.

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The most radical event on cyber-enabled information warfare, ever

So, the think tank SOFWERX is backed by the US Special Operations Command. It organised, what could possibly be, the best event on cyber-enabled information warfare, influence operations and disinformation, ever — Radical Speaker Series: Countering Weaponized Information. It’s amazing that tacticians of the USSOCOM are thinking at that level!

I documented most of the conference videos in a Twitter thread, which is pasted below as a single article.👇 Also, here’s the Thread Reader link of the same coalesced thread.

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Planet-scale influence operation strikes at the heart of polarised Indian polity – Part I

TL;DR: The largest known foreign disinformation network targeting India. Iranian in origin, possibly operated via a front in Pakistan. May have physical presence in India. Garnered hundreds of thousands of social media impressions. Legitimised by the top leaders of mainstream political parties in the opposition.

Edit, December 3rd, 2018: My opinion piece for The Tribune, briefly mentioning this investigation of the Iranian disinformation network targeting India. These articles are my regular outreach and appeal to the public.

Edit, February 15th, 2019: Read the Part IIAyatollah Khomeini’s ‘soft war’ hits the Indian hinterland. I attribute the influence operation to an arm of the Iranian state and flag a few persons of interest.

Continue reading “Planet-scale influence operation strikes at the heart of polarised Indian polity – Part I”