Iranian terror plots send a message to opposition abroad
There was a time Iran systematically assassinated Iranian opposition members in Europe. Some of the more prominent assassinations of the 1980s and early 1990s were: Shahriar Shafiq, the shah’s nephew; General Gholam-Ali Oveissi; former Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar; regime critic Reza Mazlouman in France; Iranian Kurdish opposition leaders in Austria and Germany and Kazem Rajavi, representative of the People’s Mujahideen of Iran (MEK) to the United Nations in Switzerland.
The practice of assassinating opponents abroad ended in the 1990s when the regime in Tehran tried to gain respectability and international acceptance. There are signs, however, that Iran is turning the clock back to the bad old days.
The first ominous sign appeared in July when the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service confirmed it had expelled two Iranian Embassy staff members but declined to provide details. The Iranian side was not as closed-lipped. Mashregh, a news outlet close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, disclosed that Dutch authorities were investigating two murder cases, which they attributed to Iranian agents.
Ahmad Mola Abou Nahez, also known as Ahmad Nissi, founder of the separatist Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz (ASMLA), was killed November 9, 2017. Mohammad-Reza Samadi Kolahi, also known as Ali Motamed, was shot dead in the Netherlands on December 15, 2015. Kolahi was a former MEK member and wanted by the Tehran regime for planting a bomb at the headquarters of the Islamic Republican Party in 1981, which killed 75 people, including Mohammad Beheshti, Supreme Court chief.
The second sign of revival of Tehran’s terror squads became public in July. On June 30, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which serves as a front for the MEK, had a gathering in Paris. It hosted several prominent guests such as former US House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, US President Donald Trump’s lawyer.
The French government accused “Iranian intelligence” of plotting to bomb the gathering. The alleged plotters, arrested in several European countries, included Assadollah Assadi, an Iranian diplomat based in Austria. He was arrested in Germany on the charge of handing a bomb to two Belgian nationals of Iranian origin, in Luxembourg. The Belgian nationals are Amir Sadouni and Nasimeh Noami, a married couple. When arrested, they allegedly were in possession of half a kilogram of explosives and a detonator.
Later, a certain Merhad A. was arrested in Paris on charges of being an accomplice. Iranian media have since released photos of Sadouni at MEK gatherings and claims the MEK staged the terrorist attack. The fake attack was supposedly meant to be an act of provocation and discredit the regime in Tehran.
A third possible plot was discovered by the Danish intelligence services in September. Police began a manhunt, which briefly paralysed Denmark after the authorities cut off the eastern island of Zealand and Copenhagen, from the rest of the country. Police said they were looking for a black Swedish-registered car with “possibly three people onboard” in connection with “serious criminality.” The vehicle was found but authorities have yet to report any arrests.
Several days later it became apparent that the Danish police expected the assassination or kidnapping by Iranian agents of an individual who goes by the pseudonym Yaqoub al-Tostari. He is the ASMLA spokesman and defended the September 22 terrorist attack against a military parade in Ahvaz.
All three incidents appear to send a uniform message to the Iranian opposition abroad: The regime is willing and capable of turning the clock back to the bad old days.