An Iranian fake news campaign was behind the news article that provoked former defence minister Khawaja Asif to threaten Israel with nuclear war in December 2016, ThinkProgress reported.
Lee Foster, an analyst with FireEye—the cyber-security company tasked with unearthing fake Iranian social media operations—told ThinkProgress, “AWD News” is “part of the same operation” that FireEye uncovered on Facebook a few months ago.
‘AWD News’ was linked by ThinkProgress to a fake news and social media campaign originating out of Iran. The revelation came after Twitter released 10 million tweets it had been able to link to Russian and Iranian fake social media operations.
In December of 2016, Khawaja Asif threatened Israel with nuclear war on Twitter. “Israel forgets Pakistan is a nuclear state too,” wrote the then-defence minister.
Asif was provoked into issuing the belligerent statement after coming across the ‘AWD News’ story. The fake news site had claimed the Israeli defence minister had been the one to initiate nuclear threats to Pakistan.
The Israeli Defence Ministry responded on Twitter to clarify the report was false. “The statement attributed to fmr Def Min Yaalon re Pakistan was never said,” the ministry wrote in the post directed at Asif.
In a second post it said, “Reports referred to by the Pakistani Def Min are entirely false.”
This article originally appeared on ThinkProgress.