The government of Albania has ejected Iranian agents alleged to have plotted terrorist attacks in the country, including targeting Israelis.
“I commend PM Edi Rama’s expulsion of two Iranian agents who plotted terrorist attacks in Albania,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted. “European nations have thwarted three Iranian plots this year alone. The world must stand together to sanction Iran’s regime until it changes its destructive behavior.”
The foiled plot is related to Iranians, who planned to attack a World Cup soccer match between Albania and Israel in 2016.
One of the two Iranian agents expelled was the Islamic Republic’s ambassador to Albania.
“Prime Minister Edi Rama of Albania just expelled the Iranian ambassador, signaling to Iran’s leaders that their support for terrorism will not be tolerated,” National Security Advisor John Bolton wrote on his Twitter feed. “We stand with PM Rama and the Albanian people as they stand up to Iran’s reckless behavior in Europe and across the globe.”
The expulsion of the two Iranian agents on Wednesday follows the arrest of Assadollah Assadi, an Iranian diplomat in the Vienna embassy who is believed to have launched a plot to blow up a meeting of Iranian dissidents in Paris in June. The German government arrested Assadi in Bavaria.
In October, France’s government said Iran’s ministry of intelligence was behind the plot to bomb the rally of Iranian opposition groups in Paris.
The rally in Paris was attended by US President Donald Trump’s attorney and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani. Former US House speaker Newt Gingrich was also present.
In November, Denmark accused Iran’s intelligence agency of planning to murder an exiled leader of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz (ASMLA), groups fighting for a separate territory in Iran. “We are dealing with an Iranian intelligence agency planning an attack on Danish soil. Obviously, we can’t and won’t accept that,” said Finn Borch Andersen, the head of Danish intelligence.
Sweden extradited a Norwegian national of Iranian background to Denmark in connection with the foiled plot against the ASMLA leader.
The Danes pulled their ambassador out of Iran but he returned in November.
The Danish government pushed the EU for sanctions against Iran, but the EU has refused to take action.
The Netherlands expelled two Iranian diplomats, according to a Reuters report in July. “We can confirm that the Netherlands has expelled two persons accredited to the Iranian embassy,” a spokesperson for Dutch intelligence said. “We will not provide any further information.”
Tehran (AFP) – Iran’s annual rally to mark the storming of the US embassy and hostage-taking of 1979 had particular significance on Sunday on the eve of renewed sanctions by Washington.
Thousands joined rallies in Tehran and other cities, carrying placards that mocked President Donald Trump, wiping their feet on fake dollar bills, and engaging in the usual ritual of burning the US flag.
This year’s 39th anniversary fell just hours before Washington was set to reimpose sanctions — including an oil embargo — following its withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal earlier this year.
Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the Revolutionary Guards, addressed the crowd from the grounds of the former embassy, now known as the “den of spies”.
He said “economic warfare” was a final bid by Washington to overthrow the Islamic republic after decades of failed attempts.
“With God’s help and the resistance and perseverance of the pious and revolutionary people of Islamic Iran, this last weapon of the enemy — the economic war — which is accompanied by America’s widespread media operation against the nation of Iran, will be defeated,” Jafari said.
“Never threaten Iran,” he warned US President Donald Trump, describing him as America’s “strange president”.
The seizure of the US embassy by radical students was a key stage in the Islamic revolution of 1979, leading to a 444-day hostage crisis that permanently damaged relations between Washington and Tehran.
The students believed the US would launch a counter-coup to return deposed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to power — similar to the CIA-backed coup that overthrew Iran’s elected government in 1953 — unaware that the king was already critically ill with cancer.
Several of the students later regretted the incident, but for the establishment it has become a powerful symbol of Iran’s refusal to be dominated by outside powers, the key driving force of the revolution.
Without the attack on the embassy, “the revolution would not have reached its 40th year,” said Jafari.
10/19/2018 Diplomatic Security Sit-Rep| ANKARA: An individual who claimed to have links to Daesh (ISIS) extremist group threatened to attack the Iranian Embassy in Ankara, Tehran’s envoy in Turkey said Monday, denying Turkish media reports that he had been evacuated.
“The suicide attack against the embassy was only a threat,” Ambassador Mohammad Ebrahim Taherian Fard said. “Nothing significant has happened and things are under control.”
“The threat was made by someone who introduced himself as linked to Daesh,” Fard said, quoted by state news agency IRNA.
Turkish media said Fard had been evacuated but the ambassador and Tehran flatly denied the report as a complete fabrication.
“Such a claim is a sheer lie, and the personnel at our embassy are present at their workplace in full health and security,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its website.
Earlier Monday, DHA news agency said Iran’s mission in the Turkish capital had been given an intelligence warning about a possible suicide bomb attack. The road by the embassy was shut off and police could be seen searching cars in the area, an AFP photographer said.
Ambassador Fard also said Turkish police “intensified security measures” around Tehran’s mission in Ankara in response to the threat.
In 2015 and 2016, Turkey was hit by a series of terror attacks which were blamed on both Kurdish militants and Daesh.
The last attack blamed on Daesh was in January 2017 when a gunman killed 39 people at an elite Istanbul nightclub on New Year.
The U.S. has officially blamed Iran for recent attacks near Washington’s diplomatic presence in Iraq, where the two powers have competed for influence in the latest venue of a decades-long feud sparked by an embassy hostage crisis.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Wednesday that “Iran is the origin of the current threat to Americans in Iraq” and was “to blame for the attacks against our mission in Basra and our embassy in Baghdad,” adding that his department’s “intelligence in this regard is solid.” Iran has the support of a number of semi-official Shiite Muslim militias across Iraq, and Pompeo cited “repeated incidents of indirect fire from elements of those militias” against the two U.S. sites in a Friday statement announcing the closure of the consulate general in the southern city of Basra.
Iran, whose own consulate general in Basra was burned down last month, has rejected these charges. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bahram Qasemi said Saturday that “the ridiculous justification [provided by Americans] for the closure of the U.S. Consulate General in Basra, which came after weeks of propaganda and false allegations against Iran and the Iraqi forces, is a suspicious move aimed at evading responsibility and pinning the blame on others responsibility and pinning the blame on others”
As unrest once again grips Iraq, the ripples of a long-standing dispute between the U.S. and Iran has again highlighted a history of both countries targeting one another’s diplomats.
Poisoned relations between the U.S. and Iran began in 1979. Prior to that, Iran was under the rule of the pro-West Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and the U.S. stepped in to protect British oil interests when Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh challenged the monarch’s absolute power and tried to nationalize the energy sector. With Mossadegh deposed and imprisoned in a 1953 CIA-sponsored coup, Pahlavi went on to rule for another quarter of a century before he himself was forced to flee the Islamic Revolution, which brought the current revolutionary Shiite Muslim government into power.
Upset over Western meddling in Iranian affairs and demanding that an ill Pahlavi be extradited to face justice at home, supporters of the new clerical administration overran the U.S. Embassy and held 52 U.S. diplomats and citizens hostage. A U.S. Army attempt to rescue the detainees by force ended in failure when a helicopter crashed into a transport aircraft, killing eight soldiers. An Iranian civilian was also killed when U.S. forces bombed the truck he was riding in.
The hostages were ultimately released on the day of President Ronald Reagan’s inauguration in 1981 following extensive negotiations. Although the U.S. would go on to secretly sell arms to Iran while also supporting Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War, relations between Washington and Tehran were effectively squashed. Their relationship further deteriorated with growing Iranian support for foreign Shiite Muslim movements such as the Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah in Lebanon, both of whom have been blamed for the 1983 U.S. Embassy bombing in Beirut—an attack that killed up to 63 people, including 17 U.S. officials and soldiers.
The U.S. officially embargoed Iranian trade in 1995 and these sanctions expanded as Iran embarked on a nuclear program, which Tehran always maintained was solely for peaceful purposes. Though Iran was a bitter opponent of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, it also backed Shiite Muslim insurgents targeting U.S. troops after the 2003 invasion that toppled him as it expanded ties with the new majority-Shiite Muslim administration in Baghdad. In January 2007, the U.S. raided the Iranian Liaison Office in Erbil, the capital of northern Iraq’s Kurdish Autonomous Region, accusing five staff members of being agents of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards and detaining them.
The local Kurdish government, which had ties to both the U.S. and Iran, vouched for the individuals and prevented the U.S. from detaining other individuals at Erbil’s airport. The five liaison office employees were ultimately released two and a half years later in 2009 as part of the U.S.–Iraq Status of Forces Agreement, which sought to establish a framework for the withdrawal of U.S. forces in Iraq.
Diplomacy between the U.S. and Iran remained largely frozen until President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani began negotiations to lift international sanctions in exchange for Iran agreeing to considerably restrict its nuclear activities. A multinational accord endorsed by both parties, along with China, France, Germany, Russia and the U.K., was announced in June 2015.
President Donald Trump, however, has accused Iran of using unfrozen funds to further destabilize the region via support for paramilitary movements and the development of ballistic missiles. Capitalizing on conservative outrage toward the nuclear deal, he demanded that the terms be renegotiated, something that Iran has refused to consider. Even as both the U.S. and Iran devoted assets toward battling the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), relations again declined rapidly and Trump announced that he would leave the nuclear agreement in May.
The Trump administration has continued to press the international community to isolate Iran, even without the support of European allies and major powers China and Russia. The U.S. has increasingly aligned its position with that of longtime Iranian foes Israel and Saudi Arabia, which itself severed ties with the Islamic Republic after protestors responded to the kingdom’s execution of an influential Shiite Muslim cleric by torching Riyadh’s embassy in Tehran in early 2016.
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.
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.”
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.
WASHINGTON (WJLA) — 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.
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.
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: