An Iranian diplomat was arrested in Germany for his role in plotting the bombing of an Iranian resistance gathering in Paris. In his book, Iran’s Deadly Diplomats, Matthew Levitt talks about not only that incident, but others that demonstrate how Iran’s intelligence service is using its embassies to plan terrorist activities.
Iranian diplomats investigated and deported
Part of his book focuses on how countries, particularly in Europe, are addressing the reality of Iranian diplomats being involved in terrorist plotting and other activities. In June 2018, an investigation by Dutch intelligence led to the expulsion of two Iranian diplomats, after an assassination attempt several months earlier on an Iranian Arab activist. In March 2018, Albanian authorities arrested two Iranian operatives on terrorist charges. They were caught allegedly surveilling a location where Iranian New Year celebrations were scheduled. These are just two of many examples showcasing how the intelligence operatives use their diplomatic status to disrupt the activities of members of the resistance and other groups outside of Iran.
Throughout Europe, Iranian operatives tied to diplomats are being arrested and deported for targeting Jewish and Iranian resistance members. Official protests have also been lodged against diplomats found to be spying in their countries, including Germany.
Long history of diplomats used to track Iran’s hit list
For the Iranian regime, the reality is that the Iranian resistance is a thorn in their side. Thus, they do their best to rid the resistance of key leaders, no matter where they reside outside of Iran. Between 1979 and 1994, the CIA reported that Iran “murdered Iranian defectors and dissidents in West Germany, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Turkey.”
The Iranian regime uses the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its affiliates, including Hezbollah, to plan and execute these assassination attempts. Time and again, the attacks are found to be tied back to the Iranian government. Members of the regime have admitted to tracking these dissidents, monitoring them with the intent of limiting or eliminating their activities.
Iranian Government sees little reason to stop
The lack of a consistent and strong message to the regime by the international community means that these activities have continued unabated. While many European countries withdraw their ambassadors from Iran after attacks, these freezes typically do not last.
In the 1980s, the U.S. intelligence community determined that the best way to address the issues with Iran’s diplomats is to create a strong, unified action by the international community, including a willingness to impose sanctions and even recalling ambassadors. This strategy has not been implemented to date. The Iranian resistance, led by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) President-elect Maryam Rajavi, has called for Iranian diplomats to be ejected from European countries and their embassies closed. A strong stance by the international community is truly the only way that this situation is going to change.