Contending with Iranian Plots Against the West

(Lawfare) Matthew Levitt - This week, the U.S. Department of Justice charged a member of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Shahram Poursafi, with plotting to kill former U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton and former Secretary of State and CIA Director Mike Pompeo. In fact, Iran has a long track record of carrying out assassinations, abductions, and surveillance operations targeting American and other Western interests around the world, including here in the U.S. I maintain a database of Iranian foreign operations, which currently includes 105 cases since the Iranian revolution in 1979. Out of 62 cases I have tracked over the past decade, 23 targeted Iranian dissidents, 28 targeted Jews or Israelis, 20 targeted diplomats, 14 targeted Western interests, and six targeted Persian Gulf state interests. They include 18 plots that took place in the U.S. Iranian assassination, surveillance, and abduction plots continue unabated despite the negative publicity that accompanies the arrest of Iranian operatives - even in the midst of negotiations over a possible return to the Iran nuclear deal. Iran engages in such aggressive activities because Iranian officials believe they can do so at little to no cost. Iran perceives the potential benefits of such operations to be high, while the costs of getting caught are low and typically temporary. Jailed perpetrators are regularly released in prisoner exchanges. The writer is director of the Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

2022-08-18 00:00:00

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