Saskia Pantell was living in Israel and traveling to celebrate the Rosh Hashanah holiday when she was informed that she was the target of an assassination plot.

At first she thought it was a joke — as a Swedish Zionist activist, she had received her fair share of troll phone calls. A man with a generic Swedish name called her saying that the Swedish Security Service (SAPO) wanted to speak to her. They asked her to come to the embassy in Israel to use a secure line, but the embassy was closed for the holidays, deepening her suspicions.

She continued to believe that it was one big prank when she was told that the SAPO was conducting a high-security investigation into the targeting of her and two other Swedish Jews in a high-level terrorist operation. It was only when one of the other targets confirmed that the story was true that she believed it.

“They wanted me to come to Sweden to interview me face-to-face,” Pantell recalled to The Jerusalem Post. “You want me to come to Sweden where I’m supposedly in danger?”

Swedish authorities, she was told, had arrested two people that April, but had only told her in September that people were seeking to murder her. Few details were shared with her about the threats against her. Further information was revealed when she spoke to investigative journalists Daniel Öhman and Emelie Rosen about their research and reporting into Iranian covert actions in Sweden.

Pantell shared that a man and a woman, pretending to be Afghan refugees, came to Sweden in 2015 during an immigration wave from the country. Both were reportedly connected to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, but Pantell said that these connections and two warnings were ignored and they were granted asylum.They acted as part of a sleeper cell, being activated around 2020-2021.

“I was targeted I believe because they had chosen strategic targets. I’m the head of the Zionist Federation in Sweden, and another target was the chairman of Sweden’s Jewish Central Council [Aron Verständig],” said Pantell.

“The Iranians see Jews as Israel, so they target Jewish leaders. It’s not just a terrorist crime, but an antisemitic one.”

Being targeted for assassination was surreal and difficult to understand. Random terrorist attacks are in a way more conceivable as a reality.

She wasn’t just Swedish, but an Israeli and American citizen who had been in the crosshairs. The boldness of the Iranians was disconcerting.
Released without charge, but deported

Ten months after Pantell had been informed of the plot, the alleged operatives were released without charge, and deported from Sweden. She couldn’t share what she knew.

The details only came to light after an uptick in Iranian activity in Sweden and the reports by Öhman and Rosen.

Pantell still has many questions about what she describes as a failure to address Iranian operations inside Sweden.

She says that it has been suspected for years that Iranian diplomatic missions in the Nordic country have served as hubs for Tehran’s intelligence and assassination attempts of dissidents. Another two people suspected of involvement in the plot worked at the Iranian embassy.

“How many other sleeper cells are there that they don’t know about?” Wondered Pantell.

The question is only highlighted by the fact that Pantell says this is not the first time her life has been endangered by Iranian operatives in Sweden.

“When my family first moved to Sweden in the late 80’s, my mother was an educator working with migrants,” she related.

They lived in a Swedish refugee camp for Iranians who had fled the Islamic Revolution. Pantell said that many operatives had posed as refugees so that they could pursue dissidents, and that there were several murders of dissidents during the period.

“When I was 4, there was a fatwa to kill Americans worldwide, and at the time I was a young child who only spoke American English in the middle of an Iranian refugee camp,” she said. “We were moved out right away.”

Almost thirty years later, Pantell said that it was “amazing that Iran targeted me again.”

“This has been going on for a long time,” said Pantell. “It should have been dealt with when Iranian dissidents were being targeted by the regime. No citizen should have to worry that your country is letting in foreign operatives who want to kill you.”

Pantell says she hasn’t felt comfortable going back to Sweden since the plot was revealed, because she hasn’t felt that the authorities have taken a hard enough stance against Iranian covert operations.

“I believe Sweden should cut diplomatic ties to Iran,” she concluded.

Source » jpost