Sanctions on Iran spy unit over terrorism in Europe

The Dutch intelligence service "has strong indications that Iran was involved in the assassinations of two Dutch nationals of Iranian origin, in Almere in 2015 and in The Hague in 2017," Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok. (AFP)
Updated 09 January 2019
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Sanctions on Iran spy unit over terrorism in Europe

  • Dutch police have previously named the two victims as Ali Motamed, 56, and Ahmad Molla Nissi, 52
  • Denmark had led efforts for sanctions after allegations that Tehran tried to kill three Iranian dissidents on Danish soil

JEDDAH: The EU on Tuesday froze the assets of an Iranian intelligence unit and two of its staff and designated them as terrorists over Tehran’s role in assassinations and other attacks in Europe.

It is the first time the EU has imposed sanctions on Iran since they were lifted three years ago after the 2015 deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program.

Denmark’s Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen said the decision at a meeting in Brussels was “a strong signal from the EU that we will not accept such behavior.”

France accused Iran of a plot to carry out a bomb attack last summer at a rally near Paris organized by an exiled Iranian opposition group. Denmark says it foiled an Iranian intelligence plan to assassinate an Iranian Arab opposition figure on its soil. The Netherlands said Iran was behind the assassinations of two Dutch nationals of Iranian origin in 2015 and in 2017.

“Iran was informed that involvement in such matters is entirely unacceptable and must be stopped immediately ... further sanctions cannot be ruled out,” the EU said.

Tehran’s conduct “shows a pattern of destructive and terrorist behavior,” the Iranian-American Harvard scholar Dr. Majid Rafizadeh told Arab News.

“These assassinations and attacks show that the Iranian regime is increasingly targeting political dissidents abroad, particularly in Europe, in spite of the fact that the EU is attempting to help Iran by sustaining the nuclear deal and the sanctions relief.

“Iran’s increasing attacks and assassinations on European soil highlight the fact that the regime continues to prioritize its revolutionary ideology and principles, which were set by its founding father Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979.

“The EU should take a firm stance against Iran, otherwise Tehran will be more emboldened and encouraged to increase its attacks on European soil.”


Iraq lifts nearly 30 km of blast walls from Baghdad: official

Updated 12 min 57 sec ago
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Iraq lifts nearly 30 km of blast walls from Baghdad: official

BAGHDAD: Iraqi authorities have removed nearly 30 kilometers of concrete blast walls across Baghdad in the last six months, mostly around the capital’s high-security Green Zone, a senior official told AFP.
Since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, T-walls — thick barriers about six meters tall and one meter wide — have surrounded potential targets of car bombs or other attacks.
When premier Adel Abdel Mahdi came to power last year, he promised to remove barriers, checkpoints and other security measures to make Baghdad easier to navigate.
“Over the last six months, we removed 18,000 T-walls in Baghdad, including 14,000 in the Green Zone alone,” said Staff Lt. Gen. Mohammed Al-Bayati, the PM’s top military adviser.
Hundreds of the security checkpoints that contributed to Baghdad’s notorious traffic jams have also been removed.
And according to the Baghdad municipality, 600 streets that had been closed off to public access have been opened in the last six months.
Among them are key routes crossing through Baghdad’s Green Zone, the enclave where government buildings, UN agencies and embassies including the US and UK missions are based.
It was long inaccessible to most Iraqis until an order from Abdel Mahdi last year, and families can now be seen picking their way across its manicured parks for sunset pictures.
Iraq is living a rare period of calm after consecutive decades of violence, which for Baghdad peaked during the sectarian battles from 2006 to 2008.
It was followed, in 2014, by Daesh’s sweep across a third of the country and a three-year battle to oust the militants from their urban strongholds.
The group still wages hit-and-run attacks against Iraqi security forces and government targets, and Baghdad’s authorities are on high alert.
Thousands of the removed T-walls have been placed on Baghdad’s outskirts to prevent infiltration by Daesh sleeper cells, according to Bayati.