Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Action must be taken to halt Iranian regime’s foreign terrorism/د. ماجد رفي زاده : يجب اتخاذ الإجراءات الفاعلة لوقف الإرهاب الذي يمارسه النظام الإيراني خارج إيران في العشرات من الدول

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د. ماجد رفي زاده : يجب اتخاذ الإجراءات الفاعلة لوقف الإرهاب الذي يمارسه النظام الإيراني خارج إيران في العشرات من الدول

Action must be taken to halt Iranian regime’s foreign terrorism
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/January 05/2023

In spite of the protests and major domestic crisis that the Iranian regime is facing, the Islamic Republic is showing no signs of backing down on its terror activities abroad.

For example, the Associated Press reported last month that an Albanian court had convicted an Iranian citizen on terrorism-related charges and sentenced him to 10 years’ imprisonment, according to court officials. He was suspected of working for the Iranian secret services. “Albania’s Special Court on Corruption and Organized Crime found Bijan Pooladrag guilty of funding terrorism and being a member of a terrorist organization. No details on Pooladrag’s age, home city, or when he had come to Albania were made known,” the AP wrote. It continued: “Pooladrag was arrested two years ago on suspicion of spying on members of the Iranian opposition group Mojahedin-e-Khalq, or MEK, some 3,000 of whom live in exile in Albania.”

It appears that in some countries, where the Iranian regime cannot set up militia groups, it instead tries to set up terror cells. Pooladrag’s conviction came just a few months after Albania had detained six other Iranians. The Albanian news outlet News24 reported in August: “Pooladrag is accused of being part of a terrorist cell that intended to attack senior officials of the Iranian opposition, who live in Ashraf 3. He received orders and instructions through the Telegram application … One of Iran’s intelligence officers had ordered the defendant to procure a Kalashnikov machine gun in the black market and find trained people who could commit murder.”

In addition, Albania’s Special Court on Corruption and Organized Crime issued search warrants for the property and premises associated with Hassan Heyrani, Mehdi Soleimani, Gholamreza Shekari, Mostafa Beheshti, Abdolrahman Mohammadian, Hassan Shahbaz, Sarfaraz Rahimi, Mahmoud Dehghan Gourabi, Mohammad Reza Seddigh, Reza Islami, and Ali Hajari. They were accused of “receiving money from Iran’s secret services, the Quds Force and the IRGC.”

In some countries, where the Iranian regime cannot set up militia groups, it instead tries to set up terror cells
It should not come as a surprise that one of the regime’s own diplomats, Assadollah Assadi, was sentenced to 20 years in jail in Belgium over his role in a 2018 terrorist plot. Assadi reportedly delivered explosive materials to his accomplices with the aim of bombing an Iranian opposition rally in Paris, which I attended. Had the plot not been discovered at the very last minute, hundreds of people could have been killed, including international dignitaries and many European parliamentarians.

The Iranian regime apparently uses its embassies, cultural centers and diplomats in foreign countries to act as cells to organize and construct terror groups. A 2017 Supreme Court ruling in Kuwait revealed how Iran’s embassy there played a role in forming terror cells. Iran’s ambassador and other diplomats were expelled as a result.

Last June, Turkey detained eight members of an Iranian cell who were planning to assassinate Israelis in the country. The IHA news agency reported: “The hitmen in the assassination team, who settled in two separate rooms on the second and fourth floors of a hotel in Beyoglu, were (detained) with a large number of weapons and ammunition.” Then-Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said of the plot: “We’re not only talking about the murder of innocent Israeli tourists, but also a clear violation of Turkish sovereignty by Iranian terror.”

The Iranian regime’s terror plots can be found in other European countries as well. For instance, another agent of the Iranian regime, Mohammed Davoudzadeh Loloei, was sentenced to seven years in prison by a Danish court in 2020 after being convicted of spying for Iran and for his involvement in a plot to kill the leader of an Iranian Arab opposition group.

It is worth noting that, in a rare interview with a state-run TV channel in 2019, former Iranian Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahian revealed that the Ministry of Intelligence has long used the services of “friendly journalists” and “scholars” to advance its agenda abroad, including its misinformation campaigns. “We don’t send an agent to Germany or America and for example say, ok, I am an agent of the Intelligence Ministry … Obviously, he would work under the cover of business or other jobs including reporters. You know, many of our reporters are actually ministry agents,” he boasted.

In order to adequately address and counter the Iranian regime’s terror plots abroad, the international community must hold it accountable. Governments can also adopt firm policies and even pass legislation to expel Iranian “diplomats” and intelligence agents, who may be plotting further terrorist attacks. Closing down Iranian embassies until Tehran halts its terror activities is also a critical step. In addition, and most fundamentally, they need to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its proxies as terrorist organizations.

In summary, until firm action is taken against the Iranian regime by the international community, the Islamic Republic will continue to engage in terror activities abroad.

*Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh