US sanctions also target Pakistani firms, individuals in move against Russia

Published April 17, 2021
Russian and US state flags fly near a factory in Vsevolozhsk, Leningrad Region, Russia. — Reuters/File
Russian and US state flags fly near a factory in Vsevolozhsk, Leningrad Region, Russia. — Reuters/File

WASHINGTON: Ten of the 32 individuals and entities sanctioned by US President Joe Biden on Thursday for participating in Russia’s alleged cybercrimes are based in Karachi and Lahore, shows an official US statement.

On Thursday, President Biden expelled 10 Russian diplomats and sanctioned almost three dozen individuals and companies in retaliation for a massive cyber-hacking of US federal agencies and interference in the 2020 presidential election.

On Friday, the US Department of the Treasury issued a statement identifying these individuals and entities. The list names some Pakistani individuals as well, including Ahmed, Shahzad (a.k.a. Amin, Shahzad) of Lahore, born 14 Dec 1987, national ID #3420204688179. The list includes several email addresses as well.

The official US statement says he has been booked under Cyber2, Election-EO13848, a 2018 executive order which imposes certain sanctions for foreign interference in a US election.

Another individual is Hasnain, Syed Johar of Karachi, born on Dec 30, 1987; national ID #4220106151401. He too is accused of interference in a US election.

10 of 32 individuals and entities sanctioned are based in Karachi, Lahore

Hayat, Muhammad Khizar, a.k.a. Hayat Jaffri of Karachi, born July 14, 1994; national ID # 4210191597005 faces the same charge.

As does Raza Mohsin (a.k.a. Amiri) of Karachi, born May 25, 1986; national ID # 4220198261523.

Raza, Mujtaba Ali (a.k.a. Lilani), Mujtaba Ali of Karachi, born Oct. 21,1987; who also has a digital currency address is also accused of interference in a US election.

As is Raza, Syed Ali (a.k.a. Zaidi), of Karachi, born Oct,1992; national ID #4220157603253. The list includes his cell phone numbers as well.

The statement says that all these individuals are involved in various IT companies and are linked to each other as well.

The companies are identified as Fresh Air Farmhouse, Karachi, phone number 923453272659; alt. phone number 923209299030.

The statement claims that the company is linked to Raza Mohsin and Raza, Mujtaba Ali.

Another company is simply identified as LikeWise, Shop # 5, Jamshed Quarters, Karachi, phone number 923452179668; and registration number 4220198261523. This company is also identified as linked to Raza, Mohsin and Raza, Mujtaba Ali.

The third company is M K Soft-Tech, 631-C, 6th Floor, Mashriq Center, Stadium Road, Karachi and this too is linked to Raza, Mohsin and Raza, Mujtaba Ali.

Secondeye Solution (a.k.a. Forwarderz), Karachi, only has a website and email addresses.

The US media noted that President Biden’s second round of sanctions aimed at Russian President Vladimir Putin were tougher and more sweeping than the last. Russia is accused of hacking the networks of at least nine federal agencies five months ago to gather US secrets in the SolarWinds cyberbreach.

Russia also allegedly tried to influence the 2020 presidential election by waging disinformation campaigns to help Donald Trump, mirroring meddling efforts in the 2016 election.

Russia has denied all the allegations and pledged to respond in kind. Last month, the US targeted seven Russian officials and more than a dozen government entities over the alleged poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

In a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, Mr Biden vowed to defend US national interests “firmly”, while proposing a meeting with Mr Putin to find areas where the two countries could work together.

Mr Biden later told reporters he “was clear with President Putin that we could have gone further, but I chose not to do so”. The United States, he said, was “not looking to kick off a cycle of escalation and conflict with Russia”.

Published in Dawn, April 17th, 2021

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