Category Archives: Embassy Attack

20 years Since US Embassy Bombings in Kenya and Tanzania

NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenyans and Tanzanians on Tuesday marked the 20th anniversary of the al-Qaida bombings of the U.S. embassies in their countries that killed more than 250 people, with hundreds of local survivors calling on the U.S. government for compensation.

The explosions on Aug. 7, 1998, were the first major al-Qaida attack on U.S. targets. Nearly 5,000 people were injured.

The U.S. ambassador to Kenya, Robert Godec, said the extremists wanted to cause a rift between Kenyans and Americans but failed.

kenya bombing

“Their immediate purpose was to kill and destroy, but they had more in mind. They sought to divide us, to divide friends … to undermine the values we hold dear, to destroy civilization itself and to replace it with a nightmare of oppression,” Godec said.

In a separate statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that “our partnership with our African allies remains stronger than ever.”

One survivor of the Nairobi attack said hundreds of Kenyans were still pursuing compensation from the U.S., while U.S. citizens working in the embassy had been compensated.

Douglas Sidialo, spokesman with the Kenyan victims’ association, was blinded in the attack.

“You have to ask, do they care about the dreams and aspirations of the survivors? The unity the ambassador is talking about is a fallacy,” Sidialo said.

The push to aid Kenyan victims is now focused on the U.S. Congress, Washington-based attorney Philip Musolino, who is representing 538 victims with compensation claims, was quoted in Kenya’s leading newspaper The Daily Nation on Tuesday as saying.

The embassy bombings brought al-Qaida to the attention of the U.S. public and the world three years before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington that killed nearly 3,000.

Kenya has remained under threat from the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab group based in neighboring Somalia. The group claimed responsibility for the 2013 Westgate Mall attack in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, that killed 67 people and the 2015 Garissa University attack that killed 147 people, mostly students.

Al-Shabab more recently has been targeting Kenyan security forces, with nearly 100 police officers killed since May 2017 in bombings and ambushes.

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Iranian diplomat suspected of plotting attack in France

Diplomatic Security Sit-Rep 13 July 2018

BERLIN — An Iranian diplomat is suspected of involvement in a bomb plot against an Iranian opposition rally in France. Assadollah Assadi was charged in Germany on Wednesday with activity as a foreign agent and conspiracy to commit murder.

France Iran
Activists of the National Council of Resistance of Iran hold placards reading “Deliver the Iranian ‘diplomat’-terrorist to Belgium” during a demonstration calling for the extradition of Assadollah Assadi, an alleged Iranian intelligence officer, to Belgium in front of the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin on July 11, 2018.
 
 TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Assadi, a Vienna-based diplomat, is suspected of contracting a couple in Belgium to attack an annual meeting of an exiled Iranian opposition group in Villepinte, near Paris, German federal prosecutors said.

He allegedly gave the Antwerp-based couple a device containing 500 grams of the explosive TATP during a meeting in Luxembourg in late June, prosecutors said in a written statement.

Assadi was detained earlier this month near the German city of Aschaffenburg on a European warrant after the couple with Iranian roots was stopped in Belgium and authorities reported finding powerful explosives in their car.

In their statement, German prosecutors allege that Assadi, who has been registered as a diplomat at the Iranian Embassy in Vienna since 2014, was a member of the Iranian intelligence service “Ministry of Intelligence and Security,” whose tasks “primarily include the intensive observation and combatting of opposition groups inside and outside of Iran.”

Diplomatic Security Situation Report
Fear is a Choice, but Danger is Real!

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of using its embassies to plot extremist attacks in Europe and warned Tehran that its actions have “a real high cost” after it threatened to disrupt Mideast oil supplies.

“Just this past week there were Iranians arrested in Europe who were preparing to conduct a terror plot in Paris, France. We have seen this malign behavior in Europe,” Pompeo said Tuesday in an interview with Sky News Arabia during a short trip to the United Arab Emirates.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has called the allegations of a foiled extremist plot a ploy.

Belgian authorities also accuse Assadi of being part of the alleged plot reportedly aimed at setting off explosives at a huge annual rally of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq group, or MEK, in neighboring France, and want him extradited.

German prosecutors said their investigation wouldn’t hinder Belgium’s extradition request for the suspect.

Meanwhile, an Iranian who resides in Belgium and was detained in France agreed on Wednesday to be turned over to Belgian authorities, who had issued a European arrest warrant, a French judicial official told the Associated Press.

The suspect, identified as Mehrdad Arefani, 54, will be handed over within 10 days, and go before an investigating magistrate there, according to the official, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly in an ongoing case and asked not to be identified.

The MEK is an exiled Iranian opposition group based near Paris with some members, in particular, in Albania. The formerly armed group was removed from European Union and U.S. terrorism lists several years ago after denouncing violence and getting western politicians to lobby on its behalf.

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Suicide attack close to Indian consulate in Afghanistan kills 14

Jalalabad, Afghanistan: A suicide attack in restive eastern Afghanistan on Sunday killed at least 14 people and wounded 45, an official said, the second attack in as many days to mar an unprecedented ceasefire.

Kabul Bombing 2

The explosion happened outside the Nangarhar provincial governor´s office in the capital Jalalabad, his spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told AFP.

It was also close to the Indian consulate.

Khogyani said 14 people had been killed and 45 wounded. An Afghan security source confirmed the suicide attack but gave a lower death toll of at least 10.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast.

Khogyani said a suicide bomber on foot had targeted Taliban, local elders and civilians as they left the governor´s compound where they had attended a special event for the Eid holiday.

On Saturday, a suicide attack on a gathering of Taliban, security forces and civilians in a district of the same eastern province of Nangarhar killed at least 36 people and wounded 65 others, provincial health director Najibullah Kamawal told AFP.

Daesh group´s Afghanistan franchise claimed responsibility for that attack.

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Sounding the alarm on ‘directed energy’ attacks Could an ‘energised device’ have been the smoking gun injuring US diplomats in China and Cuba?

It’s time for Western policymakers to develop a playbook for countermeasures against potential ‘directed energy’ attacks, Robert Bunker writes.

recent health alert posted on the US Department of State website related to an incident in Guangzhou, China, in which an employee of the US embassy suffered certain ‘bio-effects’. The event can be viewed in the context of earlier incidents, such as that in which US – as well as one or more Canadian – diplomatic staff members serving in Havana, Cuba were similarly affected.

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This is an image of the SIGINT Signature of an S400 Surface to Air Missile and it has Nothing to do with the Story.  But it is one of the most beautiful SIGINT Signatures. 

These traumatic brain and bodily injuries to diplomatic personnel have raised concerns over the possibility that an ongoing series of clandestine directed energy attacks have been taking place, and are increasingly drawing news and social media attention.

Three primary reasons exist why a clandestine state entity may intentionally project directed energy at US and allied embassies.

First, such energies can be utilized for sensing and spying activities in an attempt to obtain restricted and secret information either being discussed or transmitted. For instance, listening devices exist that can bounce energy frequencies off the window glass of an office, thus allowing the hearing of a private conversation inside.

Second, directed energy can be deployed in a jamming and harassment role to degrade embassy and staff functioning. This would be akin to disrupting cell phone reception, local area networks (for example from a computer to a printer), or even other more secure forms of communication.

Third, certain electromagnetic frequencies may be utilised in order to injure personnel and destroy specific forms of military equipment. As national militaries increasingly weaponise the electromagnetic spectrum, the use of infra- and ultra-sonic devices, high-powered microwaves (HPM), and lasers are becoming more common

Such advanced technologies are well suited for clandestine use because some of them – particularly certain sonic and HPM technologies – can bypass physical walls and structures. They directly injure targeted individuals with virtually none of the conventional forensic evidence a firearm or explosive would leave behind. China is well aware of these advanced weaponry capabilities and is actively pursuing them developmentally and in field-testing.

Various narratives and counter-narratives, however, have been proposed about these incidents in attempts to dismiss them as non-events. They have been portrayed as a figment of employee imagination, the product of mass hysteria, and more recently – given the preponderance of medical evidence that diplomatic personnel have suffered actual physical damage – as the malfunctioning of electronic eavesdropping equipment.

Within the context of these narratives, disinformation campaigns are actively being waged by Chinese, Russian, and allied authoritarian regimes as a component of their foreign policies, which are directly at odds with liberal democratic governance and individual human rights.

Viewing the incidents as some form of ongoing series of attacks, however, appears more plausible and more in line with US governmental perspectives, especially considering the types and circumstances of the injuries suffered, as well as the concurrent audible noises and other sensory events reported.

Recommendations for policymakers concerning the mysterious incidents in Havana and Guangzhou exist at varying levels of action.

On the declaratory level, restraint must be exercised because no ‘smoking gun’ (or, in this instance, ‘energised device’) exists which directly links any of these incidents to a specific entity or national backing.

With this said, an increasing evidential pattern of incidents and anomalies have taken place within Chinese military activities to warrant concern over the likelihood that the embassy attacks may represent a new component of Chinese clandestine operations carried out against the Western liberal democracies. These include the counter-optical lasing of multiple US military aircraft from the new Chinese base in Djibouti and the use of commercial fishing fleets to harass US warships.

While Western nations are attempting to engage with China, the Chinese Communist Party under Xi Jinping – now its leader for life – has essentially seized the South China Sea, militarised it, and slowly begun to build up the capacity to globally project its military power.

Western political leaders – including those in Australia – should now be on guard for Chinese attempts to fracture democratically based defence agreements and coalitions. It can be expected that such a strategy will be supported by ongoing clandestine measures directed against democratic states for disruptive and propaganda purposes.

At the more specific level of protecting embassies and their staff, this pattern of incidents warrants the creation of a directed energy weapons playbook for incident deterrence, detection, mitigation, response, emergency services, investigation and recovery purposes.

Such playbooks – generally utilised within counter-terrorism programs – are created for countermeasure purposes against known and recognised threats such as active shooters, suicide bombers or weaponised drones. They proactively lay out the identified threat, and detail plans and actions to address that threat before, during and after an incident has taken place. Examples of potential countermeasures include detectors to provide early warning of electromagnetic use, the ability to triangulate back to the point of origin of a suspected attack, and energy frequency dampeners (for example projected anti-frequency fields).

While none of these policy recommendations will immediately end what could be additional, albeit likely sporadic, future directed energy attacks on US embassy personnel, they will begin to help in responding to these incidents along the continuum of deterrence through to recovery. They should be viewed as prudent measures to be used alongside those actions now being undertaken by US intelligence and federal investigative agencies, which are attempting to determine the actual perpetrators of these incidents and if any definitive links to China’s clandestine services exist.

The views expressed in this essay are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

 

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Moroccan Consulate Staff receives a poisoned letter in Germany.

On Monday morning, May 28, an employee at the Moroccan Consulate in Düsseldorf, Germany, received a letter that contained suspicious powder. The latter gave the employee an unpleasant-looking rash, reports German online newspaper Westdeutsche Zeitung.

morrocan Consulate

According to the same source, the police went to the consulate to «determine the nature of the powder». Moreover, WDR rejects the hypothesis, suggesting that the powder was poisonous, indicating that «the tingling was probably due to a heart attack».

According to the same source, the letter also contained a CD. The information was confirmed by the police, without giving further details.

More : https://en.yabiladi.com/articles/details/65389/germany-employee-moroccan-consulate-receives.html

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CCTV images released of men police want to speak to after arson attack at Iraqi Consulate

A fire was deliberately started at the Consulate of Iraq in Manchester city centre in October last year, GMP say

CCTV images have been released of men police want to speak to following an arson attack in the city centre.

Police believe the men could help with their investigation into the blaze at the Consulate of Iraq in October last year.

An accelerant was set alight and thrown against the building, before the offenders fled toward Bridgewater Hall.

Luckily no one was in the government building at the time, ‘as people could have been seriously injured or worse’, police said.

Officers were called to the scene, on Oxford Court, at about 2am on Tuesday, October 17.

An investigation was launched, and detectives identified four men they want to speak to as part of their enquiries.

The images of the men were circulated on a national image database as part of the joint fire and CSI investigation, but that proved unsuccessful.

iraqi-arson-comp

Det Sgt Rick Anderton of GMP’s City of Manchester team, said: “I’m thankful that no one was inside when this happened, as people could have been seriously injured or worse.

 

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“This happened at one of the busiest junctions in the city and although it was a while ago now, I’d ask anyone who saw something that stood out from the ordinary that night, to contact police.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 0161 856 6065 or 101, quoting incident number 128 of October 17, 2017. Reports can also be made anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

 

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Is China Really Targeting US Diplomats With a ‘Sonic Attack’?

Diplomatic Security Situation Report 05/26/2018

On May 23, the U.S. embassy in China released a health alert, claiming that a U.S. government employee in China “recently reported subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure.”

Diplomatic Security Situation Report

Although the statement clarified that the United States did not know “what caused the reported symptoms” nor was aware of “any similar situations in China, either inside or outside of the diplomatic community,” the U.S. government sent a warning message to all its citizens in China in the health alert:

[I]f you experience any unusual acute auditory or sensory phenomena accompanied by unusual sounds or piercing noises, do not attempt to locate their source. Instead, move to a location where the sounds are not present.

An embassy spokeswoman also told CNN that this U.S. employee was diagnosed with a “mild traumatic brain injury.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later claimed that this incident in China was “very similar” to and “entirely consistent” with those experienced by American diplomats posted in Havana, Cuba. Last year U.S. State Department sent most of its diplomats in Cuba home after accusing the Cuban government of conducting “sonic attacks” on employees of the American embassy.

Unsurprisingly, after Pompeo’s remarks the U.S. media then widely referred to this incident as a Chinese “sonic attack.”

However, many researchers believe that the symptoms these U.S. diplomats suffered are unlikely to be caused by “sonic attacks.”

Jürgen Altmann, a physics professor at Technischen Universität Dortmund in Berlin, told CNN, “I know of no acoustic effect that would produce concussion-like symptoms; according to my research, strong effects on humans require loudness levels that would be perceived as very loud noise while exposed.”

In line with Altmann, Wang Ning, chief physician of the Department of Neurosurgery in Beijing Xuanwu Hospital, who has specialized in the field of neurosurgery for many years, also told Chinese media that “To cause a ‘traumatic brain injury,’ the intensity of sound waves should be as strong as an explosive level.”

As for the earlier Cuba incident, many U.S. experts also ruled out the possibility of  “sonic attacks.” For example, after examining the 21 embassy workers in Havana, a team of doctors at the University of Pennsylvania published a report on February 15 in the journal JAMA, suggesting that none of the proposed causes for these mass brain symptoms (including sonic weapons) really make sense, according to Live Science.

In fact, even the FBI made it clear that “there has been no evidence to support the theory of sonic waves being used to harm Americans in Havana.”

Instead, a group of scientists published an academic article, arguing that the Cuba incident was more likely the “accidental side effect of attempted eavesdropping.”

Kevin Fu, a researcher at the University of Michigan, together with Wenyuan Xu, a professor at Zhejiang University, in Hangzhou, China, and her Ph.D. student Chen Yan, published a report, titled “On Cuba, Diplomats, Ultrasound, and Intermodulation Distortion,” giving a more plausible explanation.

Through experiments, this team showed that ultrasonic signals from eavesdropping devices can “combine to produce audible and potentially dangerous tones similar to the undulating, high-pitched chirping that the diplomats described,” as Michigan News put it.

“We’ve demonstrated a scenario in which the harm might have been unintentional, a byproduct of a poorly engineered ultrasonic transmitter that was meant to be covert,” Fu told Michigan News. “A malfunctioning device that was supposed to inaudibly steal information or eavesdrop on conversation with ultrasonic transmission seems more plausible than a sonic weapon.”

IEEE Spectrum, a magazine edited by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, believes that Fu’s report is “finally a likely explanation.” While Fu was quick to point out this is still just a theory, he suggested the harmful sound could be the unintentional result of an ultrasonic transmitter — an eavesdropping device — reacting with an ultrasonic jammer meant to safeguard against such bugs.

“Each device might have been placed there by a different party, completely unaware of the other,” Fu said.

Notably, this report was published in March, before the latest China incident.

So far, China’s attitude toward this incident has been quite calm.

On May 24, China’s Foreign Ministry responded:

China has always protected the safety of foreign diplomatic missions in China, including that of the U.S. diplomatic staff, in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Regarding what was said in those reports, China has carried out an investigation seriously and given an initial feedback to the U.S. By far, we have found no reason or clue for what was reported by the U.S.  

In Fu’s mind, “bad engineering just seems much more likely than a sonic weapon.” If the China incident was “entirely consistent” with the Cuba “sonic attacks,” then it may be that a “poorly engineered ultrasonic transmitter” — or jammer, or both — was being used in both cases.

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https://thediplomat.com/2018/05/is-china-really-targeting-us-diplomats-with-a-sonic-attack/

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A history of violence: How attacks on US embassies shaped America’s future

As the US embassy moves to Jerusalem amid high security, history teaches that US diplomatic missions can become targets.

For many in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond, Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is anything but diplomatic.

It risks alienating important partners in the region and disqualifying Washington as a neutral broker to negotiate peace in the region. Already, it has contributed to Palestinian anger, as seen in the current protests on the border between Gaza and Israel, with deadly results.

Benghazi 2012: This Stars and Stripes flag was found after the attack on the US diplomatic mission (Reuters)

 

Yet if history has taught anything, it is that Trump, a self-styled expert dealmaker, may end up getting more than he bargained for.

When disaster does strike, American prestige and policy can suffer with high-flying political careers dashed

American diplomatic missions in the Middle East and North Africa, as the representatives of the country in the region, can become lightning rods for anti-US sentiment, sometimes resulting in death and destruction.

And when disaster does strike, the reverberations can be felt worldwide, with American prestige and policy suffering and high-flying political careers dashed.

Tehran 1924: Lynching heralds martial law

Any discussion of US diplomacy and Iran triggers recollections of the 1979 crisis and the Islamic Revolution. Yet US diplomats had fallen victim to events in the region long before Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini rose to power.

In 1924, Robert Whitney Imbrie, a major in the US army, was the American vice-consul in Tehran. A spy-adventurer, his pre-foreign service exploits included successfully bringing a live gorilla from the Congo to New York and volunteering for the French army’s ambulance service during World War One.

Before taking his position at the US embassy in Iran, Imbrie gained a reputation as a hot-headed, fearless and vehemently anti-Bolshevik American agent, once using his walking stick to beat the head of the Soviet secret police department in Petrograd.

Ironically, Imbrie spent much of his working life undermining what he regarded as godless Soviets – but it was religious fanatics who were to determine his fate.

In July of that year, he took a carriage to inspect an angry crowd of anti-Bahai protesters in the center of Tehran. The protesters were gathered around a well that was rumored to have miraculous healing powers. But now the Bahais, a religious minority, had been accused of poisoning the font.

Imbrie approached, carrying a camera to take photographs for the National Geographic Society and accompanied by his bodyguard, a burly oilfield worker.

 

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But soon he drew attention from the crowd, some of who accused him of being a Bahai.

He was attacked, badly beaten and rushed to a nearby hospital, where the mob then forced their way into the operating theatre and killed him.

Understandably, Imbrie’s death was a source of tension between Tehran and Washington, which demanded justice. Eventually, a soldier and two teenagers were found, accused and executed.

The incident also cast doubt on the safety of foreigners in Iran, as US newspapers fretted about security and religious fanaticism in the region.

The New York Times wrote that Iranian authorities should “cease to resort to appeals to the fanatical instincts which permeate not only the mob but also a large proportion of the intelligentsia” and urged Tehran to better protect foreigners in future.

This it did, when Iranian Prime Minister Reza Khan declared martial law, using the crisis to consolidate his power before eventually assuming the Iranian throne.

WAK Fraser, the British military attache at the time, noted how “the event gave him … the excuse for declaring martial law and a censorship of the press… Numerous arrests have been made, chiefly political opponents of the prime minister.”

Imbrie was buried with full honors in Arlington National Cemetery. But his death had opened a new chapter in Iranian politics.

Tehran 1979: Hostages and revolution

Fifty-five years later, a second crisis involving American diplomats heralded another significant shift in US-Iranian relations.

In early 1979, the US embassy in Tehran was a long, two-story redbrick building standing on an avenue in central Tehran, the scene of intense US-Iranian cooperation which neither government expected to be broken.

The US embassy is stormed by Iranian students in Tehran in 1979 (Wiki)

 

Popularly likened to an American high school in appearance, the mission was known as “Henderson High”, a reference to Loy Henderson, its first US ambassador.

“It was like any other embassy, except the relationship of the United States and Iran was very close,” says Iranian-American historian Shaul Bakhash at George Mason University in Virginia.

“The shah worked closely with the Americans on diplomatic issues, on regional security, on the sharing of intelligence.”

But all that changed in February 1979, when Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran and son of Reza Khan, was deposed by the Islamic Revolution.

At first, Washington managed to uphold an uneasy relationship with the new Iranian government, despite the revolutionary fervor in Tehran.

But when the US granted Reza Shah asylum in May of that year, the hardliners had all the reason they needed to target the embassy.

‘It was a precise, planned political move that was designed to drive a wedge between the Iranian and American governments’

– Shaul Bakhash, academic

A group of students stormed the building on 4 November, taking 52 American diplomats and citizens hostage and parading them blindfolded and bound in front of television cameras.

“I was in Iran at the time and I must say the images were electrifying,” Bakhash said. “It was a precise, planned political move that was designed to drive a wedge between the Iranian and American governments.”

The hostage crisis, which lasted 444 days, was the death of President Jimmy Carter’s administration. His downfall was fuelled by the failure of Operation Eagle Claw, an unsuccessful attempt to rescue the hostages in April 1980, which resulted in the deaths of eight US service personnel in the desert southeast of Tehran.

The release of the hostages in January 1981 was regarded as an early victory for Carter’s successor Ronald Reagan, who was sworn in as president just minutes before they were freed.

But the crisis was catastrophic for US-Iranian relations, which have never recovered and are currently at a new low following the rejection by US President Donald Trump of the Iran nuclear deal.

Today the Tehran embassy – popularly known as the “den of espionage” in Iran – is a museum, standing as a monument to a shattered relationship.

Murals and posters criticising American and Israeli “arrogance” cover the walls, while various encryption devices and communication equipment are displayed behind glass screens, proof the Iranians say of Washington’s meddling overseas.

“For the Iranians it showed that the United States could be beaten,” says Bakhash.

Beirut 1983: Bombed into retrenchment

In early 1983, the US embassy in Lebanon was nothing if not picturesque, nestled as it was next to the American University of Beirut’s leafy campus and boasting vistas of the Mediterranean.

Journalist Kai Bird, who lived in the mission as a child, says: “The Beirut embassy was right on the corniche, a lovely venue. Any Lebanese, any American could just walk right into the embassy, say hello to the marine guards, state their business and get an appointment to see somebody.”

A bulldozer demolishes the bombed-out US embassy in Beirut in 1983 (Reuters).

Such openness in 2018 is unimaginable, as a visit to any US mission across the world will prove, in part due to the devastating suicide bombing in Beirut that took 63 lives and changed the American diplomacy forever.

In April 1983, Lebanon was eight years into a bloody civil war, which would eventually leave an estimated 150,000 dead and not end till 1990.

On the 18th of that month, a truck loaded with explosives drove into the US embassy and detonated.

Packing more than 900 kg of explosives, the truck bomb tore apart the embassy’s entire facade, as the explosion shattered windows across west Beirut.

Seventeen Americans, 32 Lebanese employees of the embassy and 14 passersby and visitors were killed, including some of the CIA’s top agents.

Beirut in 1983 was to be the opening salvo in a new type of warfare with which the United States still battles today

It was to be the opening salvo in a new type of warfare with which the United States still battles today. Likely directed by Iranian intelligence, the attack was carried out by Islamic Jihad, a militant group that later grew into Hezbollah.

It was also the first of several attacks on the US in the city. In October 1983, two truck bombs targeted at an international peacekeeping force killed more than 300 people, including 241 US peacekeepers. And in September 1984, 24 people were killed by a car bomb attack on the US embassy annex in east Beirut.

The attacks drew strong rhetoric and promise to see the mission through from then-US President Reagan. But by February 1984 the American military presence in Lebanon began to be drawn down, with the British, French and Italian forces following suit.

Bird, whose book The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames profiles a CIA operative who was killed in the 1983 attack, says the assault on the US embassy was a turning point.

“There’d never been a military-scale attack on a US embassy before and I think it inaugurated a new form of warfare. It changed the whole landscape of US diplomacy – literally, the architecture changed.”

In an attempt to avoid a repetition of such a disaster, US embassies and missions worldwide now sit behind layer upon layer of security.

Many invariably resemble fortresses, set in isolated locations and sat behind thick walls, high fences and dozens of cameras. The former US embassy in London’s Grosvenor Square, for example, was constructed during the 1950s. Security increased over the decades, until the area on one side of the residential square was cordoned off. The new embassy, in Vauxhall, opened in December 2017, is on open ground and surrounded by a semi-moat.

But such security has its disadvantages. “Since 1983, the average diplomat is extremely isolated, and it’s very hard for them to develop friendships and contacts with local journalists,” says Bird

“So that’s had a very real impact on the daily routine and life of the average American diplomat. It’s terrible and it sends completely the wrong message. It sends a message to the average person in Lebanon or Egypt or Nepal or India that you can’t approach America, that we Americans are fearful.”

Benghazi 2012: The lingering legacy

Missions in Tripoli, Kuwait City, Jeddah, Damascus, Sanaa, Istanbul, Cairo and Tunis have all witnessed bombs, assaults or riots. A suicide bombing in Ankara in 2013, which killed one person, is just one of the more recent examples.

An armed man in the US consulate compound in Benghazi in September 2012 (AFP)

 

But none has had quite the political reverberations in recent years as the attack on the US temporary mission facility in Benghazi on 11 September 2012, which killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

In 2012, Libya was emerging as splintered and unstable country after the uprising and NATO operation that toppled long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi the previous year.

Benghazi had been the cradle of the revolution against Gaddafi’s regime. Stevens was in the city promoting democracy and American friendship, as the US considered making its presence in the eastern Libyan city permanent. It was to cost him his life.

On the 11th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center, the militant group Ansar al-Sharia staged an assault on the US mission.

Coming at the compound from all angles, the militants broke through the security using heavy weapons, RPGs and grenades. Once inside, the assailants started a fire, filling the Americans’ hiding place with smoke. Stevens managed to escape the building and was taken to a nearby hospital, but eventually died of smoke inhalation.

The unexpected attack and the diplomat’s death shocked America: according to David Des Roches at the National Defense University, it was also a wakeup call for US policy in Libya.

“It showed that the country had descended into something that was sub-national,” says Des Roches.

“Right now, when people look at Libya, it’s basically divided along the lines the Emperor Constantine divided it at the time of the Roman Empire.”

But Benghazi’s more enduring legacy was, perhaps, seen not in Libya but 8,000km away in the White House.

The attack sparked a lengthy inquiry, and exposed then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s use of an external email server – a scandal that plagued her 2016 run for the presidency.

“In her memoirs secretary Clinton attributes her defeat to the fact that additional emails were unearthed just five days before the election,” says Des Roches. “Well, we only found out that those emails existed because of the inquiries into Benghazi.

So if you take Secretary Clinton’s analysis, if not for Benghazi [then] she would be president today.”

Going by the same logic, Donald Trump would not be sat behind a desk in the Oval Office – and Washington would not have decided to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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Iranian Student Group Offers $100000 Reward for Attack on US Embassy

A radical Iranian student group is reportedly offering a $100,000 reward to anyone who bombs the U.S. embassy in Israel, which officially opened Monday after being relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The Iranian Justice Seeker Student Movement disseminated posters Monday calling for an attack on the newly inaugurated embassy, according to a translation of local Farsi language reports obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

“The Student Justice Movement will support anybody who destroy the illegal American embassy in Jerusalem,” the poster reads in Farsi, Arabic, and English. The advertisement goes on to offer a “$100,000 dollar prize” to anyone who succeeds in destroying the embassy.

Arab leaders have uniformly condemned the Trump administration for formally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital despite the city’s status as an Islamic holy site.

“America has entered a crisis of strategic decision-making that looks at the international arena immaturely and adventurously,” Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani said Monday. “Spur-of-the-moment and uncalculated actions cannot continue in today’s world. Feeble-mindedness is costly for statesmen and they will eventually have to pay the price.”

The Iranian regime has grown increasingly hostile in the wake of Trump’s withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal last week. The announcement was met with the burning of the American flag and chants of “death to America” in Parliament.

The embassy’s opening Monday coincided with the deaths of as many as 52 protesters at the hands of Israeli forces along the border with Gaza, as weeks-long Hamas-backed demonstrations peaked.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, joined by Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, praised Trump’s decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem as Congress required in a 1995 law.

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Sudanese Diplomat Killed in Central African Republic

Diplomatic Security Sit-Rep 05/09/2018

By Mohammed Amin

KHARTOUM, Sudan

A diplomat was killed on Friday in an attack on Sudan’s Embassy in the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

According to the statement, the diplomat was killed during clashes between police and embassy guards in Bangui.

“Sudan’s embassy staff at the CAR capital of Bangui, Salih Abu Haniya, has been killed” as a result of clashes that took place between the police and the guards of our embassy, it said.

The Foreign Ministry summoned the CAR ambassador in capital Khartoum in protest against the attack.

The statement added the CAR president and the minister of interior attended the funeral ceremony of the slain diplomat and promised to deliver justice.

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Yemeni Embassy Official Killed in Mogadishu Bombing

Diplomatic Security Sit-Rep 05/09/2019

Diplomatic Security Situation Report

MOGADISHU, Somalia – A Yemeni Embassy official has been killed when bomb explosives fitted into his car, has exploded in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu.

The victim, whose name has been released as Sheikh Nur Odei died after the explosion happened in the city’s Shibis area, relatives said.

The dead body of Sheikh Nur was taken into Criminal Investigation Department in Mogadishu for further investigations, according to relatives.

It is unclear why Sheikh Nur was targeted.

No one has claimed responsibility the bomb attack in Somali capital Mogadishu.

 

https://mareeg.com/deadly-explosion-kills-yemeni-embassy-official-in-mogadishu/

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Armed Gunman attacks Consulate Employee in Iranian Consulate in Washington, D.C.

Diplomatic Security Sit-Rep 04/26/2018

A man has been arrested in Northwest D.C. after entering a consular office of Iran and attacking an employee while cursing in Farsi, according to witnesses.

The U.S. Secret Service has confirmed that an individual with a weapon was arrested for assault in the area of 1250 23rd Street NW.

DC Police later identified the man arrested as 55-year-old Alireza Fakhar, of San Antonio, Texas.

Iran has no embassy in the United States but the building at that location is listed as the Embassy of Pakistan/Interests Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It’s where they process visas and passports. The Interests Section serves as Iran’s consular representation in the United States.

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A witness inside the Interests Section says a man walked in the building about 11 a.m. with a knife and a handgun. He then attacked a man at the front desk, pistol whipping him before forcing him upstairs and locking him in an office while waving his gun at other employees and shouting in Farsi.

The attacker smashed windows and TVs and computer monitors.

A spokesman says it was unclear what the attacker’s motive was, but he is sure the man is Iranian.

When Secret Service officers arrived, the suspect laid down on the floor in a submissive position to allow the arrest. He was taken to DC Police’s Second District for processing.

The man who was attacked was taken to a hospital with serious injuries.

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Secret Service officers originally responded to a report of shots fired. After the area was secured, it was determined that no shots had been fired.

Witnesses reported a large police presence in the area beginning shortly before noon on Wednesday.

DC Police reported that traffic was closed on the following streets:

•2300 Block of N Street, NW

•1200-1400 Blocks of 23rd Street, NW

•2200-2300 Blocks of M Street, NW

Secret Service filed the report on the incident:

ssreport

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US Embassy in Cambodia issues Security Alert over Bomb Threat.

Diplomatic Security Sit-Rep 13 April 2018

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — The U.S. Embassy in Cambodia has issued a security alert over an alleged plot to set off a bomb during the country’s traditional New Year holiday, which runs from Thursday through Monday.

The alert advises U.S. personnel to exercise caution around Wat Phnom, a temple in Phnom Penh said by Cambodian officials and media to be the target of a plot by the Khmer National Liberation Front, an overseas anti-government group.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday publicly warned of the alleged plot, saying strengthened security measures would ensure safety. He has repeatedly charged before a general election in July that his political opponents seek to cause unrest, in what is generally seen as an effort to disrupt their ability to organize and function freely.

The alert was posted on the embassy’s website and social media outlets. “Exercise caution in areas with large crowds. If you see an unattended object, leave the area immediately. Monitor local media for updates. Be aware of your surroundings,” it said.

Embassies for the U.S. and other Western nations tend to err on the side of caution in issuing such warnings.

Cambodia’s Interior Ministry and a pro-government newspaper released details of the alleged plot. They said the northwestern town of Siem Reap, the site of the famous Angkor temple complex, was also an alleged target.

Hun Sen’s government has used a combination of threats, accusations of conspiracies and legal action to attack his opponents. Almost all critical news media have been shut down and the opposition political party has been banned. The courts are widely regarded as being under the influence of Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

Hun Sen has held power for more than three decades and declared his intention to remain for at least two more five-year terms.

The website of the independent Phnom Penh Post newspaper quoted Sam Serey, the Denmark-based head of the Khmer National Liberation Front, as denying the alleged bomb plot.

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Mr Serey was sentenced in absentia to nine years in prison for allegedly trying to topple the government in 2014.

A day after Mr Hun Sen’s claim, phone conversations purported to be between members of the KNLF were leaked.

According to the audio recordings, which Fresh News obtained from authorities and published on Tuesday, a woman named Huy Thou was heard talking to a man named Sim Vuthy, a KNLF member, over a plot to plant explosives at Wat Phnom and disrupt Khmer New Year festivities.

General Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said that security forces and police are ready to be deployed in all provinces to provide security during Khmer New Year.

Mr Sopheak said that the police have kept the situation under control since the terror plot was discovered and prevented.

“Our police are of enough capacity to provide security for our people,” he said “We pay strong attention to security, especially preventing terrorism.”

Large crowds are expected in some tourism-attracting provinces, especially Siem Reap province where the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia has organised the sixth event of the Angkor Sangkranta from Saturday until Monday.

Mr Hun Sen is scheduled to attend the event. Last year’s event attracted 1.6 million foreign and local tourists.

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14 Injured after Fire Erupts in Portuguese Embassy in Sweden. Police Suspect Arson.

Diplomatic Security Sit-Rep 04/05/2018

FOURTEEN people are reported to have been injured after fire erupted at the Portuguese Embassy in Sweden.

Stockholm Embassy

Police, who are not ruling out arson, want to question a tall, bearded man in his 50s in connection with the incident.

The fire begun in the Narvavägen in Stockholm, which is home to several embassies.

Twelve fire trucks are at the scene with about 80 firefighters.

Roger Steffen, management operator at Storstockholm’s fire department, said the fire was on several levels.

He added: “The fire is fully developed, it is burning in full.”

14 people are reported to be injured, and the building is being evacuated.

Mr Steffen added: “There is strong smoke evolution on several levels and staff left in the building.

“We have not landed with all cars yet, so we have not got a proper picture yet.”

Stockholm Police spokesman Anders Bryngelsson said: “We have a large number of patrols in place. To check what has happened.

We do not exclude crimes.”

Police were looking for a heavily built man with long hair and a grey beard.

He added: “We have blocked the area around, and have some form of evacuation,” says Anders Bryngelsson.

Yvonne Levinovitz, 64, who lives near the embassy, said: “ I’m very shocked. It’s chaos. People are picked out from balconies with fire ladders.”

 

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4 Suspects Arrested in Firebomb Attack on Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen

All four people suspected of attacking the Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen with firebombs on March 19 have been arrested, Danish media reported on March 26.

Suspects arrested for attack on Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen

All four people suspected of attacking the Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen with firebombs on March 19 have been arrested, Danish media reported on March 26.

Two suspects were detained on March 24 and were jailed for 24 days pending trial, while the other two suspects were arrested on March 25 for 22 days, according to media reports.

Police and security forces conducted search operations around Zealand after the attack took place.

“Good police work, progress has now been made in the case of the attack on the Turkish Embassy. An attack on diplomatic representations of other countries is extremely serious. Therefore, I am glad the hard work of the police and Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) seems to have borne fruit,” said Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen in a Twitter post on March 26.

No one was injured in the early morning attack on March 19 that caused minor damage to the exterior of the embassy building.

 

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Two Jordanians convicted for IS Embassy Attack

Diplomatic Security Sit Rep 03/24/2018

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Two Jordanians convicted for IS embassy attack
Two Jordanians were convicted for having manufactured explosives and plotting attacks on behalf of the Islamic State group

Two Jordanians accused of planning attacks on the Amman embassies of Russia, Iran and Israel were sentenced to ten years on Wednesday.

Jordan’s state security court convicted the two men for having manufactured explosives and plotting attacks on behalf of “a terrorist group”.

The two were accused of belonging to the extremist Islamic State group and of planning to carry out bomb attacks in 2016 on the Russian, Iranian and Israeli embassies in Amman.

They were arrested in March 2016.

A suicide bombing in June of that year claimed by IS near a border post with war-torn Syria killed seven Jordanian soldiers.

In recent years, Jordan has upgraded its fight against militants and criminals, in large part with US backing, setting up a national emergency call centre, a network of street surveillance cameras and databases for DNA, ballistics and fingerprints.

The US State Department’s expanding Anti-Terrorism Assistance (ATA) programme has allocated $300 million to train and equip security forces in partner nations – so far 21 out of a pool of 56, with the aim to improve the safety of US diplomats and citizens abroad and to support US allies.

Jordan’s importance to Washington was apparent last month when the kingdom was promised $1.275 billion a year in US economic and military aid through 2022, an increase of 27 percent.

Jordan faces domestic and external threats from extremists, even though once powerful IS militants have largely been defeated in neighbouring Syria and Iraq.

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Turkish Embassy in Denmark Attacked With Firebombs

Diplomatic Security Sit-Rep 03/20/2018 The Turkish Embassy in the Danish capital Copenhagen was attacked by four people with Molotov cocktails early on March 19, according to a police official.

Turkish Embassy Denmark

Torben Madsen from the Copenhagen police told reporters that the police had noticed the attack while patrolling the area at around 2.55 a.m. local time (0155GMT).

Madsen said a number of police officers were sent to the area, adding that the police officer who spotted the incident was focused on extinguishing the fire rather than catching the fleeing attackers.

Madsen said nothing about who the suspected attackers might be. No-one was hurt, even though the building was damaged.

Attacks on Turkish buildings in Europe have intensified since Turkey launched “Operation Olive Branch” on Jan. 20 to remove the People’s Protection Units (YPG) from Syria’s northwestern Afrin district.

In a tweet, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen condemned the attack: “Attacking diplomatic missions of other countries is a very serious act. The special statuses of embassies in our country must be respected.

“I hope those responsible for the attack on the Turkish Embassy will be brought to justice by being captured quickly,” Rasmussen added.
Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen said in a statement: “I strongly condemn the arson attack attempt last night against Turkey’s

Embassy in Copenhagen. It is good that nobody got hurt.”

Samuelsen said, “The Turkish Embassy stands under our protection as does all embassies in Copenhagen. An attack on an embassy is an attack on the Danish state. I thank our police for quick response.”

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Cuban Jihadist Arrested in Bogota for Conspiring to kill US Diplomats and Embassy Workers in Colombia.

Colombia’s prosecution said Wednesday that it prevented attacks on United States government officials in the capital Bogota, allegedly planned by a Cuban national.

Raul Gutierrez Sanchez, a 46-year old that is in Colombia illegally, reportedly planned to attack Bogota’s exclusive “Zona Rosa,” a densely populated area frequently visited by American tourists and diplomats.

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The prosecution arrested Gutierrez on terrorism charges and conspiring to commit a crime, to which he denies.

Alarm bells rang for authorities when incriminating messages between Gutierrez and a group of Islamic extremists were intercepted.

In one of the messages, Gutierrez allegedly said that he had already done the reconnaissance work on a restaurant in Bogota visited by “f***ing gringos that work in the embassy,” likely referencing American diplomats who are believed to be the targets of the attack.

The prosecutors office accused Gutierrez of planning to attack 29 Americans that worked in the United States Embassy in Bogota.

Another one of Gutierrez’s intercepted message reads, “I will avenge my brothers with or without your help. Allah is with me”, to which he receives a reply saying the attack must be carried out “in the name of Allah to avenge the fallen brothers”, reportedly by a Spanish resident of Moroccan descent who is also being pursued by officials.

It is not yet known if Gutierrez is part of international terrorist network, ISIS, or merely a sympathiser.

According to an analyst at Colombia’s College of War, Nestor Rosania, Colombia isn’t prepared in dealing with international terrorism on home soil.

“The traditional focus has been on the nation’s internal conflict; (international terrorism) hasn’t been a priority. They are topics we must begin to work on”, Rosania told Blu Radio.

Colombia is home to one internationally recognized terrorist organization, the Marxist ELNgroup, which has been combating the Colombian state since 1964.

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Palestinian Prime Minister Survives Assassination Attempt on Convoy in Gaza

An explosion wounded several security guards of Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah but left him unharmed during a visit to the Gaza Strip to open a public-works facility there.

palestinian-pm-attack-1520942566

The blast on Tuesday happened shortly after Hamdallah’s convoy passed through the Israeli-controlled Erez checkpoint, known to Palestinians as Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza, an Al Jazeera correspondent at the scene reported.

Hamdallah, who heads the Palestinian Authority government based in Ramallah in the West Bank, appeared on live television following the incident at the inauguration of a wastewater-treatment plant in Hamas-run Gaza.

Shortly afterwards, he returned to Ramallah where he gave a brief address outside his office.

He said seven of his guards were wounded in the attack and they were being treated in hospitals across Ramallah.

 

“It [the attack] does not represent patriotism. It is a cowardly act that does not represent our people, nor does it represent the people of Gaza,” Hamdallah said.

Majed Faraj, the Palestinian Authority intelligence chief, was part of the convoy.

Fatah, the West Bank-based political party to which Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas belongs, called the incident a “terrorist attack” and blamed it on Hamas.

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“This attack is an attempt to kill all reconciliation efforts. It is a dangerous step aimed at spreading disorder and fighting among our people,” Munir al-Jaghoub, who heads Fatah‘s information department at the Office of Mobilisation and Organisation, said.

“We demand that Hamas expedite its investigation. The developments have proven that Hamas has completely failed in providing security in Gaza, just as it has failed in providing a decent life for our people in the strip.”

Hamas and Fatah, the two main Palestinian political parties, signed a reconciliation agreement in October 2017, ending a decade of division that saw two parallel governments operating in Gaza and the West Bank, respectively.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Iyad al-Buzom, Gaza’s interior ministry spokesman, said the act of placing blame “has a political dimension”.

“Here in Gaza, we take all the security precautions to welcome all the convoys and delegations and particularly the prime minister as he entered Gaza,” he said.

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“Several suspects were arrested a short while ago”, and an investigation “to find out who was behind the explosion” is under way, Buzom added.

The agreement to form a unity government was signed in the Egyptian capital Cairo on October 13, but efforts to implement the deal have faced obstacles.

Mustafa Ibrahim, a Gaza-based political analyst, said there are “several sides who are benefiting from this explosion”.

“We will hear Fatah saying that some members of Hamas do not want reconciliation, and likewise, we will hear Hamas saying this could have been a fabricated attack by Fatah’s security services,” Ibrahim told Al Jazeera.

“The ones who will pay the price are the Palestinian people themselves. The Palestinian Authority may impose more punitive measures against the Gaza Strip, and it is imperative that Hamas captures those behind the attack as soon as possible.

“This explosion will have repercussions for the people in Gaza.”

Nickolay Mladenov, the UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, condemned the attack and said in a Twitter post those behind it seek to “undermine” reconciliation.

Also commenting on the incident, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Twitter Gazans need “a real government that will provide basic services”.

Nauert’s remarks came as the White House held a conference on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which has been under a land, sea, and naval blockade for more than a decade.

However, Palestinian officials were not expected to attend the conference. Earlier this week the PA rejected the White House’s invitation saying the issue in Gaza was “political par excellence”.

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Parliament Commission to Hold Meeting on Iran Embassy Attack in London

Diplomatic Security SitRep 03/13/2018

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission plans to convene a meeting later this week on a recent attack by members of an extremist religious cult on the country’s embassy in London, the spokesman for the commission said.

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Hossein Naqavi Hosseini told Tasnim on Monday that the commission is scheduled to hold the session on March 14 to look into the embassy attack and whether or not the British police’s failure to act promptly was deliberate.

Deputies of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif would also attend the meeting, he added.

In the attack on Friday, four men dressed in black climbed on to a first-floor balcony of the building, took down the Iranian flag, and waved flags of their radical cult in an apparent protest against the Islamic Republic.

No one was hurt during the incident and the trespassers were arrested when they came down after around three hours. The four were detained for causing criminal damage and being unlawfully on diplomatic premises, a spokeswoman for London’s Metropolitan Police said.

Immediately after the incident was reported, Iran’s deputy foreign minister for political affairs, Abbas Araqchi, expressed the Islamic Republic of Iran’s strong protest to the British ambassador to Tehran and demanded that the UK police fully protect Iranian diplomats in London and immediately deal with the assailants.

Iran’s ambassador to Britain, Hamid Baeidnejad, tweeted that the assailants were “advocates of the Shirazi cult”.

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