US exporter jailed for illegally supplying Iran bank with cybersecurity tools

A dual US and Iran citizen has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years for conspiring to export cutting-edge cybersecurity software to the blacklisted state to help its central banking system operate more efficiently.

The tech itself was innocuous enough – but the Islamic Republic, which has repeatedly described the North American superpower as the “Great Satan,” is on a list of states that are forbidden to receive certain US electronic goods under the International Economic Powers Act.

Between 2019 and 2021, Kambiz Kashani, 44, and his accomplices used two dummy companies registered in the non-blacklisted United Arab Emirates “to illegally procure electronic goods and technology from multiple US technology companies, including one located in Brooklyn, for end users in Iran, including the Central Bank of Iran,” said the US Department of Justice (DoJ), announcing the sentencing.

The DoJ added that some of the goods Kashani clandestinely shipped to Iran were restricted by the US “for national security and anti-terrorism reasons.” Iran was designated as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1984, five years after a fundamentalist religious movement led by Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew and replaced Shah’s government, which many in the Middle East had regarded as a puppet of the West.

Geopolitics being as they are, the ban has stuck, and Iran and the US remain at loggerheads for the foreseeable future – all the more so given the Islamist regime’s brutal crackdown on its own people following the alleged murder in custody of Mahsa Amini by its so-called morality police, who reportedly arrested her for not wearing a hijab.

Long-running conflict

This latest sentence, handed down by a federal court in New York, thus marks but another blow struck in the long-running war of ideologies between the two nations and will likely not be the last.

“Kashani and his co-conspirators intentionally concealed from the US companies that they intended to send the items to Iran, falsely claiming that the UAE companies would be the ultimate end users,” said the DoJ. “By providing the Central Bank of Iran and other end users in Iran with sophisticated, top-tier US electronic equipment and software, Kashani and his co-conspirators enabled the Iranian banking system to operate more efficiently, effectively and securely.”

A spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which assisted the investigation into Kashani, insisted Kashani’s jailing was justified because of the Iranian banking system’s suspected links to terrorism.

“This is a sobering reminder that illegally exporting material is not an abstract economic concern – it is a crime with a direct impact on the safety of the American people,” said FBI counterintelligence operative Alan Kohler.

“The recipient of these technologies was the Central Bank of Iran, an entity connected to organizations such as Iran’s Qods Force and Lebanese Hizbollah, both designated terrorist groups that represent a clear and present threat to the United States. As long as these threats persist, the FBI will not rest in our efforts to find these illegal exporters and bring them to justice.”

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