The nuclear deal was supposed to chart a new course for Iran. But the Tehran regime remains as it ever was, including when it comes to committing acts of terror in Western homelands. Just don’t expect Europe to reconsider its policy of preserving the nuclear deal at any cost.
This week, the Dutch government confirmed that Iran’s intelligence ministry was behind two assassinations in the Netherlands — of Ahmad Mola Nissi in The Hague in November 2017 and Ali Motamed in Amsterdam two years earlier.
In this case, the mullahs allegedly hired Dutch gangland types to carry out the murders. As the US government has repeatedly emphasized, Hezbollah, Iran’s Shiite terror proxy in Lebanon, has close connections with organized crime worldwide.
The Dutch bombshell followed October’s announcement by the Danish government that it had thwarted an Iranian plan to assassinate a leader of the separatist Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz. Swedish authorities arrested a Norwegian citizen of Iranian extraction for his alleged role in the plot; he has been extradited to Denmark.
Tehran was also behind a foiled bombing in France last summer. That attack was supposed to target a gathering of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, the Marxist-Islamist cult that helped bring the mullahs to power in 1979 but has since turned against them.
Had the Paris plot succeeded, it could have shattered hundreds of innocent lives in the French capital’s urban core. Among the attendees at the MEK gathering: former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
The French government concluded “without any doubt” that Iran’s intelligence ministry was behind the attempted attack, which had been operationally led by a Vienna-based Iranian spook posing as an intelligence official, on orders from Saeid Hashemi Moghadam, the Islamic Republic’s director-general of intelligence, who answers directly to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Both France and Germany have recently carried out major raids against Iranian spy-terror networks. The Germans found that Iran was gathering information so it could draw up a list of targets for assassination, should the regime choose to carry them out. The list included many Jews and other supporters of Israel, including a former member of the Bundestag, Reinhold Robbe, head of the German-Israel Society.
Liberals on both sides of the Atlantic smirked when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last year accused the Iranians of conducting “covert assassination operations in the heart of Europe.” But recent events have wiped that smirk off the foreign-policy establishment’s face.
None of this is new behavior from the lawless Islamic Republic, which has treated terrorism as a central plank of its statecraft from the beginning.
One of the Islamic Republic’s first acts, shortly after the collapse of the shah’s government 40 years ago this month, was to take over the US Embassy in Tehran.
Other notable entries in Iran’s black book of terror include the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing, the deadliest single attack on US Marines since World War II; the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people, and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia that killed 20, most of them Americans.
The targeting of dissidents abroad is also par for the course for the regime. Such operations began with Shahriar Shafiq, the Shah’s nephew and a high-ranking officer in the former regime’s navy, struck down by Iranian agents in Paris in December 1979.
Foreign assassinations continued unabated throughout much of the 1980s and ’90s. Operations targeting domestic dissidents inside the country were carried out in tandem but with even greater efficiency — and impunity.
You’d think this latest wave of Iranian terror on the continent would prompt a European rethink on Iran policy. But you’d think wrong.
As US sanctions come back into force, the European Union is seeking ways to help Tehran continue to access the global financial system. Brussels mandarins are determined to rescue the nuclear deal, even as the evidence mounts that the accord has done nothing to curb Tehran’s nefarious activities.
Put another way: European officials are prepared to indirectly bankroll the very Iranian terrorism they condemn. Can you blame Trump for questioning Europe’s commitment to its own security?
Kyle Orton is a UK-based terrorism analyst.
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