Cyprus has arrested an unknown man who traveled through several countries to achieve his goal of assassinating 5 businessmen with Israeli citizenship. The Iranian regime’s string of assassinations leads to European tolerance of Tehran’s approach.
The failed attack on Cyprus was just one of at least dozens of killings that took place in Europe in recent years, some of which have been successful and have involved what security officials call “soft” targets, including murder, kidnapping, or both.
“This is a regime that builds its government on intimidation and violence and adopts violence as a legitimate measure,” said David Parnea, head of Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad, in rare public remarks in September, warning of violent plots being pursued. This is not spontaneous, it is planned and systematic state terrorism, and it is strategic terrorism,” she added.
Security experts have attributed the success of this approach to European laxity, because Europe has become the starting point of most Iranian operations in recent years, which feared retaliation against Tehran. Security officials said Iran has carried out about 12 operations since 2015 in Europe, killing at least three people and kidnapping many more.
Iranian-American writer and women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad says, “Europeans have not only been lenient with the Islamic Republic, they are cooperating with them, working with them and legitimizing the killers,” referring to the constant desire of Europeans to meet Iranian leaders. And you said that if Tehran doesn’t receive any punishment, is there any reason for them to stop taking hostages, kidnapping or killing?” She Then she replied, “No”.
And over the course of a few months last year, Iran launched a series of attacks from Latin America into Africa. And in Colombia police arrested two men in Bogota on suspicion of wanting to assassinate a group of Americans and a former Israeli intelligence officer for $100,000.
A similar operation took place in Africa, where authorities in Tanzania, Ghana and Senegal arrested five men suspected of planning attacks on Israeli targets, including safari tourists.
And in February of questThis year, Turkish police thwarted an elaborate Iranian plot to kill a 75-year-old Turkish-Israeli who owns a local airline; And in November, Georgian authorities said they had thwarted a plan orchestrated by the Iranian Quds Force to kill a 62-year-old Israeli businessman of Georgian descent in Tbilisi.
Given Europe’s proximity to Iran, the presence of many Iranian exiles and the soft view of some EU governments towards Tehran, Europe is a natural starting point for Iranian regime terrorism, according to Politico .
Western intelligence officials say the regime’s intelligence service, known as the Interior Ministry, has built operational networks in across the continent trained to kidnap and kill by a variety of means.
And since anti-regime protests have erupted in Iran at a steady pace since 2009, so has the pace of external operations aimed at eliminating those whom the regime accuses of fueling the unrest.
And while many smaller-scale assassinations such as the 2015 attack in the Netherlands on Iranian exile Mohammad Reza Kolahi have been successful, Tehran’s more ambitious operations have also failed.
An alliance of groups of exiles
The most prominent example of this was the 2018 plot to bomb the annual Paris meeting of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a coalition of groups in exiles who seek to overthrow the regime. Among those attending the meeting, which drew tens of thousands of people, was Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York and attorney for US President Donald Trump.
Thanks to a tip from American intelligence, European authorities foiled the plot and arrested six of them, including a Vienna-based Iranian diplomat who had delivered a detonator and bomb-making equipment to an Iranian couple assigned to carry out the rally attack.
For example, the crew of last year’s Cyprus attack included several Pakistani boys. While this gives Iran plausible deniability if the perpetrators are caught, it also increases the likelihood of an operational failure.
“They’re very amateurs,” a US intelligence official told Politico, “but amateurs are hard to track down.”
Iranian intelligence has been more successful in drawing dissidents from Europe to friendly third countries, where they are arrested and then sent back in Iran. This is what happened to Ruhollah Zam, a journalist critical of the regime who lived in Paris, because the circumstances of his kidnapping are still ambiguous, but it is known that someone convinced him to go in Iraq in 2019, where he was arrested and extradited in Iran. He was convicted of inciting against the regime and hanged in December 2020.
Western bargaining of the Iranian regime can be overlooked, as negotiations between Iran and world powers are believed to in on renewing its dormant nuclear deal would tame the covert killing program, but in in reality the opposite happened.
And in July of 2021, US authorities uncovered a plot by Iranian agents to kidnap Masih Alinejad from her home in Brooklyn as part of an elaborate plan that included transporting her by speedboat to an oil tanker in New York Harbor before transporting her in Venezuela, an ally of Iran, and then in Tehran.
A year later, police broke up what the FBI believed was an attempt on Masih Alinejad’s life, arresting a man with an assault rifle and more than 60 rounds of ammunition knocking on his door.
US authorities also say Tehran plotted to avenge the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the paramilitary Quds Force that was the target of a US drone strike in 2020, by trying to kill the former security adviser Nationalist John Bolton and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, among other officials…
Because of all this, neither the United States nor Europe has lost hope of reaching a nuclear deal.
From the Iranians’ point of view, this is proof that it is possible to separate and maintain a civilized discourse on the nuclear deal from the deceptive Western appearance and, on the other hand, continue to plan terrorist acts against opponents and exiles.
“This approach will continue as long as the world allows,” warns Mossad head Parnea.
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