Iran is famous for military adventurism and meddling in the domestic policies of other countries in the region, but it’s now set its sights further afield by extending its use of spies to the US and Europe to interfere in their socio-political, religious and socioeconomic landscapes, often recruiting those unlikely to be detected, such as those with dual nationalities.
Two of the Regime’s spies arrested in the US last year, accused of spying on Jewish facilities and members of the Mujahedin-e Khalq, were either American-born citizens, like Ahmadreza Mohammadi Doostdar, 38, or had permission to work in the US, like Majid Ghorbani, 59. Assistant Attorney General John Demers said that the pair “are alleged to have acted on behalf of Iran, including by conducting surveillance of political opponents and engaging in other activities that could put Americans at risk”.
Dr Majid Rafizadeh warned that this would not only pose a danger to the lives of Americans but also increase tension and fear within the Persian community in the US. He also explained that Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence is not the sole actor behind these malign activities, instead the Quds Force, the elite branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps led by Qassem Soleimani, that operates to advance the Regime’s interests in foreign countries.
Another unlikely spy employed by the Iranian Regime is those diplomats who work in Iran’s embassies and consulates in foreign countries, where they enjoy diplomat immunity. Several European countries expelled Iranian diplomats over terror plots that threatened Europe in 2018, but this just means that the Regime gets its terrorist diplomats back, even if they are caught. Where is the punishment?
One key anomaly is Assadollah Assadi, the Iranian diplomat to Vienna, who was arrested in Germany after handing over explosives for a plot to bomb an Iranian Resistance rally in Paris in June 2018. He is currently awaiting trial in Belgium, but only because he had travelled outside of Austria to commit his crimes, therefore waiving his immunity.
Dr Majid Rafizadeh wrote: “It is totally hypocritical for the theocratic establishment of Iran to demand immunity for their embassy staff, who is accused of being engaged in terror plots, while its regime is known for ransacking foreign embassies in Tehran — including those of the UK and Saudi Arabia — for no reason, as well as taking diplomats hostage. The Iranian regime is escalating its attempts to attack the West, with its spies intensifying their work in the US and Europe. They are sworn to inflict significant damage. The West must put more efforts into disrupting Iran’s espionage networks.”