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The 45 sanctioned individuals performed diverse functions while working at Iran's Rana Corporation.
The United States imposed Thursday new unilateral coercive measures on 45 individuals and two entities linked to Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).
According to the U.S. State Department communication, the coercive measures have been levied against an Iranian entity posing a "cyber-threat" (Advanced Persistent Threat 39, or APT39), as well as 45 associated individuals and an alleged "shadow" company, Rana Intelligence Computing Company.
The State Department justified the announcement by claiming that Iran's Intelligence and Security Ministry targets dissidents, journalists, and international travel companies by recruiting cyber threat groups, shadow companies, and digital pirates.
Similarly, it argues that "through Rana, on behalf of MOIS, the cyber actors designated today used malicious cyber intrusion tools to target and monitor Iranian citizens, particularly dissidents, Iranian journalists, former government employees, environmentalists, refugees, university students and faculty, and employees of international nongovernmental organizations."
It continues by assuring that these groups and individuals "attacked" at least 15 countries in the Middle East and North Africa and hundreds of people and entities in 30 additional countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America.
The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) also informed that it sanctioned Thursday two companies based in Lebanon, Arch Consulting, and Meamar Construction, for being owned, controlled, or directed by Hezbollah. It additionally imposed sanctions on Sultan Khalifa As'ad, a Hezbollah Executive Council member closely associated with both firms.
According to Reuters, sources familiar with the matter say that U.S. President Donald Trump plans to issue an executive order in the coming days allowing him to impose further secondary sanctions on any country that violates the conventional arms embargo on Iran, set to expire on October 18.