Last week, Iranian military leaders claimed that members of their intelligence community not only penetrated U.S. Army Command Center, they also took control of American drones flying through Syria and Iraq.
As The Washington Free Beacon reported, evidence was displayed by Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force, buttressing Iran’s claim of their covert activities. Hajizadeh stated, "Seven to eight drones that had constant flights over Syria and Iraq were brought under our control and their intel was monitored by us and we could gain their first-hand intel.”
The Fars News Agency asserted that the IRGC gave it video footage that proved the Iranian claims were true. Fars stated, "The footage below shows IRGC's penetration into US Army's Command Center, one of the many proofs in support of General Hajizadeh's remarks. The footage shows a U.S. flying drone starts malfunctioning and makes a rough landing in a desert area 10 kilometers away from its base. The footage that displays the IRGC's penetration into the U.S. spy drone's intel has been recorded by an IRGC drone flying above the scene.”
The Free Beacon noted, “This would not be the first time Iran commandeered such sensitive technology. Tehran assumed control of a downed U.S. drone several years ago and claimed that it had siphoned both information and technical data.” The Telegraph reported in December 2011, “The RQ-170 Sentinel, supposedly the CIA’s unseen “eye in the sky”, capable of beaming back a trove of imagery and electronic intercepts, was broadcast on Iranian state television. The aircraft was shown beneath an Iranian flag, apparently intact after crashing 140 miles inside the country last Sunday …Russia and China immediately seized their chance to gain a unique insight into one of the world’s most powerful intelligence assets, asking Iran for permission to inspect the drone.”
President Barack Obama asked Iran to return the drone, saying, “We have asked for it back. We’ll see how the Iranians respond,” but Iran refused. Former Vice-President Dick Cheney commented to CNN, "The right response to that would have been to go in immediately after it had gone down and destroy it. You can do that from the air ... and, in effect, make it impossible for them to benefit from having captured that drone." He continued, "He asked nicely for them to return it, and they aren't going to.”
Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser, told the Free Beacon, "Iran knows it can't compete with the United States head on and so for decades it has embraced asymmetric warfare. Terrorism is the major component of this, but increasingly cyber-espionage and hacking are pillars of Iranian strategy, While the Iranian media regularly exaggerates, there may be some truth to this story."
He added, "Iran has deployed forces into Syria and Iraq not only to beat opponents on the ground, but also to test its technology in real-world conditions," Rubin said. "Just as the U.S. and Soviet Union once used proxy battles over Syria to test each other's equipment and capabilities, Tehran today looks at Syria as a laboratory for its own military capabilities. If the Iranian story is true, there's a real danger: Not only because Iran regularly shares its technology with terrorists, but also because there is not a capability Iran has which Russia and China don't share.”