Conspiracists Claim America Cut Iran’s Internet

February 14, 2008 12:44 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
There is much online talk that Iran was the target of recent Internet disruptions in the Middle East. Respected sources have repeated the claim, despite the lack of evidence.

30-Second Summary

Earlier this month, a succession of fiber-optic cable failures interrupted Internet access across the Middle East.

The disruptions have been attributed to damaged cables, but the absence of a conclusive explanation as to how the damage occurred has spawned a number of conspiracy theories.

One theory that has gained traction posits that the cables were sabotaged to disrupt Iranian plans to launch an oil bourse, the existence of which could hurt the American economy. Though conceding it was "farfetched," John Dvorak, at business newswire MarketWatch, judged that claim credible. He wrote, "There has always been talk about disrupting commerce by screwing up the Internet. We've just seen a proof of concept, whether done on purpose or by accident."

A variation on the same theme claims that the United States sabotaged Iran’s Internet connection preparatory to launching an attack.

A third claim has it that U.S. or Israeli intelligence services were trying to tap the fiber-optic cables in order to intercept Iran’s communications. Yet, The Economist quotes a European Parliament report that concluded it is nearly impossible to tap fiber-optic cables. 

Indeed, no news reports have even confirmed that Iran suffered a disruption in Internet access during the Middle East blackout. Officials from Renesys, a company that monitors Internet service, have said that Iran was never disconnected.

The Economist and Reason magazine assert that some of the conspiracy theories come from dubious sources.

If Iran did experience service disruptions, both magazines think it is unlikely the country would stay offline for long. Most places affected by the cable failures have already established alternative connections. 

Headline Links: Cut cables stir conspiracy theories

Background: The incidents

Opinion & Analysis: Theories and fact

The theories
Debunking the conspiracies

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