Iran has set up terrorist and intelligence infrastructure across Europe with aim of assassinating exiled Iranian dissidents and moderate Arab leaders, particularly those whose countries rival Iran in the Persian Gulf, intelligence experts told Israel Hayom Tuesday.
According to both Israeli and foreign intelligence experts, the vast Iranian infrastructure was set up to serve the Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite black-ops arm, the Quds Force.
One foreign intelligence official said that a prominent Arab leader had recently canceled a visit to Europe following solid information suggesting that an Iranian terrorist cell was planning to assassinate him.
Belgian authorities announced Monday that they have exposed extensive infrastructure deployed by the Quds Force and Iranian intelligence. Three people were arrested, including an Iranian diplomat, on suspicion of plotting to bomb a meeting of an exiled Iranian opposition group in France.
The IntelliTimes intelligence blog said Tuesday that former Prime Minister Ehud Barak was also in Paris during that time.
Shin Bet security agency Director Nadav Argaman met with Barak last week to discuss what was described as “urgent” concerns for his safety, over an alleged Iranian plot to attack Barak during one of his visits abroad.
The blog also reported that an Israeli diplomatic vehicle was recently stolen in one of Europe’s capitals, only to be abandoned in its Muslim quarter, suggesting that the thieves may have planned to use it to stage a terrorist attack against the Israeli mission in that city.
The blog further claimed that the Iranian terrorist infrastructure was headed by Asadullah Asadi, stationed as an attaché at the Iranian Embassy in Vienna. Belgium was selected to be the logistical base of operations for Iranian terrorist cells, which comprised Iranians who had migrated to Brussels, Antwerp and Mons.
Belgian intelligent officials said Asadi was arrested on German soil as he made his way from Vienna to Brussels as part of the final preparations for the attacks. Raids in the homes of the other suspects yielded various weapons.
U.S. mulls designating IRGC a terrorist group
CNN reported Tuesday that the Trump administration was weighing whether to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist group as part of its efforts to pressure Tehran.
The designation decision, formally under the State Department’s purview, is particularly important given the White House’s increasingly aggressive strategy toward Iran.
Officials have been debating it for several months and have yet to reach a consensus.
While some warn a designation could pose risks to U.S. personnel and overseas assets, it would allow the White House to freeze IRGC assets, impose travel bans and levy criminal penalties on top of pre-existing economic sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is said to be in favor of the designation.
”There’s lots of things that are being discussed, things that will prove, we believe, very effective at the end goal-which is, at the end of the day, what matters, right?” Pompeo told CNN in a recent interview. “The end goal is to convince the Islamic Republic of Iran to be a normal country.”
Still, National Intelligence Director Dan Coats has cautioned the administration that designating a state’s military as a terror group, particularly one with the reach of the IRGC, would be unprecedented and could expose U.S. diplomatic and military officials to additional hazards.
Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesman for the Iranian Mission to the United Nations, told CNN that the possible terrorist designation was in keeping with an American tendency to use terrorism for political objectives.
“The U.S. has a long history of politicizing the term ‘terrorism’ for its own political ends, which undermines others fighting terrorism,” Miryousefi said. “To associate the term with the IRGC is categorically preposterous, especially considering their central role in fighting terrorism in the Middle East, including ISIS and al-Qaida.”
Also on Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended an event marking the United States’ Independence Day. The event was hosted by U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.
He criticized European leaders for meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani while his country was plotting against the continent.
”President Trump decided to leave this bad deal and he did the greatest thing for the security of the world and for the security of Israel. Now, you should know that this is not yet universally accepted. And I can tell you that this week there’s going to be a meeting and the meeting is going to be in Europe.
“There is a meeting this week by the P4 [Germany, France, Britain and China] without the United States. They are going to discuss how to go around the decision that President Trump and the United Stated made to leave this bad deal, which is funding Iran’s terrorism and its aggression with billions of dollars,” he said.
”There is in the same week something extraordinary. The P4 invited Iran’s President Rouhani to attend that meeting. But at the same time, in recent days, this same regime dispatched a terrorist cell to carry out a major terrorist attack in France.
”The commander of this terrorist cell was an Iranian diplomat in Austria. Fortunately, the plot was exposed. The cell’s Iranian members were arrested in France, Belgium and Germany. France and Germany are part of the P4. At the time of their capture, the cell members had explosives, detonators and more. European authorities are now completing their investigation and are expected to charge the Iranian agents and cell members behind the plot.
”This Iranian terror plot was planned on the soil of Europe on the same week that the European leaders are supposed to meet the President of Iran about circumventing the sanctions on Iran. Here’s my message to the European leaders: Stop funding the very regime that is sponsoring terrorism against you and against so many others. Stop appeasing Iran,” Netanyahu said.
Source » israelhayom