The MOIS, under the leadership of Esmail Khatib, directs several networks of cyber threat actors involved in cyber espionage and ransomware attacks in support of Iran’s political goals. In addition to conducting malicious cyber activity that affected Albanian government websites, MOIS cyber actors were also responsible for the leaking of documents purported to be from the Albanian government and personal information associated with Albanian residents.
Minister of Intelligence and Security – Cleric Esmail Khatib, worked at the IRGC’s Intelligence and Operations organization in the year 1980. He was the former director-general of Qom Province’s Intelligence Department, served as the head of Judiciary’s Security and Intelligence Department, and as Chief Security Director for Astan-e Quds Razavi under Raisi, and later a staff member at Khamenei’s Office;
Khatib’s ascendance at the Intelligence Ministry represents the emerging revolving door among Raisi’s presidency, the Office of the Supreme Leader, and the judiciary. Khatib was a student of leading ayatollahs, particularly Fazel Lankarani and Makarem Shirazi(link is external). Iranian media indicates he served as a member of the IRGC’s intelligence unit since 1980. This is an important credential as traditionally the Intelligence Ministry and the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization have competed. This could thus have implications for intra-intelligence community relations. Khatib also served in capacities in the Office of the Supreme Leader, as the director of the Protection and Information Center of the judiciary, and as head of Astan Quds Razavi’s Security Department. Thus, Raisi is once again employing his considerable judicial and foundational network in his new administration—with Khatib overlapping in experience with Raisi not only in the judiciary but also at Astan Quds Razavi;
Khatib’s career pattern is broadly consistent with his predecessors at the Intelligence Ministry—particularly service across the Iranian judiciary and intelligence communities. For example, Ghorbanali Dorri-Najafabadi and Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei served as intelligence minister before taking up senior posts in the judiciary. Khatib’s role in the Office of the Supreme Leader will also provide him with stature. His predecessor Mahmoud Alavi also served as Khamenei’s representative to Iran’s Army and head of its Ideological and Political Organization, but Khatib brings more heavyweight security credentials;
The MOIS is being designated today pursuant to E.O. 13694, as amended, for being responsible for, or complicit in, directly or indirectly, cyber-enabled activity that is reasonably likely to result in, or has materially contributed to, a significant threat to the national security of the United States, and that have the purpose or effect of causing a significant disruption to the availability of a computer or network of computers.
Also Known As:
Seyed Esmail Khatib
Seyyed Esmail Khatib
KHATIB, Seyed Esmaeil
1960 to 1961
Ghayenat, South Khorasan Province, Iran
Reason for the color:
» Added to the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list maintained by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on September 9, 2022 pursuant to Executive Order 13694, as amended, for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the MOIS;
» Iran’s new government reads like a list of sanctioned persons;