Rise in Iranian Assassination, Kidnapping Plots Alarms Western Officials

(Washington Post) Shane Harris - The Iranian government has stepped up its efforts to kidnap and kill government officials, activists and journalists around the world, including in the U.S., according to government documents and interviews with 15 officials in Washington, Europe and the Middle East. Tehran has targeted former senior U.S. government officials; dissidents who have fled the country for the U.S., Britain, Canada, Turkey and Europe; media organizations critical of the regime; and Jewish civilians or those with links to Israel. Iran's intelligence and security services rely largely on proxies to carry out their plans, offering hundreds of thousands of dollars to jewel thieves, drug dealers and other criminals in murder-for-hire schemes. Officials say Iran's persistence makes it likely to eventually carry out the killing of a high-profile dissident, journalist or Western government figure, which could spark direct confrontation with Tehran. The tempo of the plots has dramatically increased in the past two years. Just since last year, Western security and law enforcement agencies said they have disrupted an attempt to assassinate former national security adviser John Bolton in Washington and to kidnap Iranian American journalist Masih Alinejad in New York City; multiple attempts to kill British nationals and others living in the UK; an operation to murder French journalist Bernard-Henri Levy in Paris; attempts to kill Israeli business people in Cyprus; and a plan to use assassins recruited in a prison in Dubai to kill Israeli business people in Colombia. Matthew Levitt, a former U.S. counterterrorism official and now a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, has tracked 124 foreign plots by Iran since 1979.

2022-12-01 00:00:00

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