JEDDAH: Iranian exiles on Thursday urged European countries to consider closing Iranian embassies amid accusations that these were being used in a campaign to assassinate those who are calling for regime change in Tehran.
“It is time that the Iranian regime’s embassies in Europe, including the one in Albania, be shut down,” said Ali Safavi, an official of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
“They are not diplomatic centers, they direct and facilitate the regime’s terrorist operations abroad,” Safavi said a day after Albanian police announced that they had thwarted a planned attack by a Tehran-backed “terrorist cell” against opponents of the Tehran regime in the Balkan country last year.
Abanian police said the group belonged to the elite Quds force which runs foreign operations for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
This cell “had planned, among other things, a terrorist act foiled in March 2018” targeting a religious celebration of the Bektashi, a Sufi group, in Tirana, the statement said.
About 3,000 members of the People’s Mujahideen Organization of Iran, which is linked to the Paris-based dissident umbrella organization (NCRI, have settled in Albania since 2014 after they were attacked in Iraq. They live in a camp near Durres, the main port in Albania.
The ceremony was attended by members of the exiled Iranian opposition group the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (MEK), according to police.
Albania agreed in 2013 to take in some 3,000 members of the MEK at the request of Washington and the United Nations.
They currently live in a compound in the northwest of the country.
Albanian police chief Ardi Veli had been quoted as saying the plot was uncovered and thwarted in March, but kept secret until now while evidence was assemble.
He said the main plotters fled and are now in Turkey and Austria.
On Wednesday police published photos of three Iranians and one Turkish national allegedly involved in the “terrorist cell.”
The leader “resides in Turkey” and another “has an Austrian passport,” according to the police statement.
Police declined to confirm whether international arrest warrants had been issued.
French authorities had earlier accused Iran’s intelligence ministry of plotting to attack the NCRI’s annual rally outside Paris in June o2018. Agents linked to Iran were detained while traveling in a vehicle with bomb-making equipment.