Iran must be held to account for global espionage, assassinations and terrorism plots
While it is important to examine what topics Iran’s state-owned Persian news outlets focus on, it is also critical to analyze what they decide not to cover. This week, for instance, there was little mention of the Iranian spy who was recently sentenced by a Danish court to seven years in prison.
The spy, who will be deported from Denmark after serving his jail term and permanently banned from re-entering the country, was reportedly an accessory to the attempted murder of one or more opponents of the Iranian regime. The court stated that he “collected information about an exiled Iranian in Denmark” and handed the information over to an Iranian intelligence agency, an act that is illegal under Danish law.
While the intelligence agencies of many nations gather information in other countries, the Iranian case is different because the regime is actively involved in using gathered information to assassinate or bomb its targets.
In the Netherlands, for example, Ahmed Mola Nissi, a Dutch citizen of Iranian origin, was gunned down outside the front door of his home in the Hague in Nov. 2017. The 52-year-old, considered an opponent to the Iranian regime, was a prominent figure in the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz, an activist group that fights for the formation of a separate state in Western Iran.
The Dutch authorities made a public announcement stating that the Iranian government commissioned the murder. Nissi’s resistance to Iran’s tyrannical regime made him a target, and his life was ended to further the goals of the autocratic rulers in Tehran.
He was not the only person targeted in this way. Another political opponent, Ali Motamed, was killed under similar circumstances in Amsterdam in 2015. The regime has made it clear that there is a target on the backs of all who oppose it or stand up for freedom and human rights.
Tehran also seems to use intelligence information gathered by its spies to carry out terror attacks. For example, European officials foiled a terrorist plot to bomb a Free Iran convention in Paris in June 2018 that included many high-profile international speakers, including former US House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird.
An Iranian diplomat and several other individuals of Iranian origin were arrested in France, Belgium and Germany. After a thorough investigation, French officials concluded that the Iranian regime was behind the bomb plot. Had it succeeded, the loss of life would have been staggering and the devastating toll on a community that fights for human rights would have been immeasurable.
Iran’s spies have not only been arrested in the Middle East and Europe but also in the US
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
This was not an isolated incident in Europe. In 2018, officials in Denmark accused Tehran of attempting to assassinate a Danish citizen. Anders Samuelsen, the foreign minister at the time, emphasized the seriousness of the plot, saying: “An Iranian intelligence agency has planned an assassination on Danish soil. This is completely unacceptable. In fact, the gravity of the matter is difficult to describe. That has been made crystal clear to the Iranian ambassador in Copenhagen today.”
Also in 2018, after an investigation by Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the federal prosecutor’s office ordered police to carry out raids on properties around the country linked to suspected Iranian spies. It was strongly believed that those individuals had spied on people and organizations “on behalf of an intelligence unit associated with Iran.”
Iran’s spies have not only been arrested in the Middle East and Europe but also in the US. Two Iranians accused of spying for the regime on opposition group the People’s Mujahedin of Iran were arrested and indicted in the US in Aug. 2018, for instance.
The US Federal Court charged Ahmadreza Mohammadi Doostdar, 38, in Chicago and, Majid Ghorbani, 59, in California. According to the Justice Department, the pair are charged with “knowingly acting as agents of the government of Iran without prior notification to the attorney general, providing services to Iran in violation of US sanctions, and conspiracy.”
In addition, an Iranian-born Canadian was arrested in Washington State for illegally assisting the Iranian regime.
Iranian intelligence minister, and Iran’s chief spy, Mahmoud Alavi made an astonishing announcement in 2017, when he boasted that Tehran had agents in Washington promoting the hardline agenda of the ruling mullahs.
It is incumbent on the international community to hold the Iranian regime accountable for its involvement in assassinations and terror plots in foreign nations.
• Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh