Iran accused of plotting ‘terrorist attacks’ in Albania
LONDON – On top of its suspected involvement in recent months in terror plots in France and Denmark, Iran has been implicated in a terrorist plot in Albania.
An Albania official said December 19 Tirana has expelled two Iranian diplomats for security reasons, with US officials identifying one as the ambassador and saying the pair plotted “terrorist attacks” in the Balkan country.
The diplomats were suspected of “involvement in activities that harm the country’s security,” Albania’s Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Edlira Prendi told reporters, adding that the decision was taken in consultation with other countries.
She declined to provide the diplomats’ names or elaborate on the nature of their alleged offence.
But in a statement welcoming the move, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described the diplomats as “two Iranian agents who plotted terrorist attacks in Albania.”
The US national security adviser, John Bolton, also identified one of the diplomats as the ambassador.
“Prime Minister Edi Rama of Albania just expelled the Iranian ambassador, signalling to Iran’s leaders that their support for terrorism will not be tolerated,” Bolton wrote on Twitter.
He added: “We stand with PM Rama and the Albanian people as they stand up to Iran’s reckless behaviour in Europe and across the globe.”
An Albanian TV station, Top Channel, reported that the Iranians were suspected of links to an alleged plot to attack a 2016 World Cup match between Albania and Israel.
After the match, some 20 people were arrested in Albania and Kosovo in connection with the alleged plot.
At the request of US authorities and the UN in 2013, Albania agreed to take in some 3,000 members of an Iranian opposition group known as the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI).
Their relocation from a camp in Iraq was completed in 2016 when the last 280 people left for Albania. They currently live in a compound in the north-west of the country.
Iran has come under increasing pressure in Europe over its actions in the continent, not lease the involvement of Iranian intelligence agents in a number of foiled terror plots.
An Iranian diplomat based in Vienna is facing trial for allegedly commissioning an attack on a rally being held by the opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in Paris in June, including providing an explosive device.
Denmark has accused Iran’s intelligence service of plotting to carry out an assassination plot on its soil, targeting activists Tehran believes were involved in a shooting on a military parade in Iran in the city of Ahvaz on September 22.
(With news agencies)