Iran and Political Assassinations: A Machine of Oppression that Never Stops

Iran and Political Assassinations: A Machine of Oppression that Never Stops

Tuesday, 17 July, 2018 - 07:45
Members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Force. (AP)
London - Asharq Al-Awsat
The arrest earlier this month of Iranian suspects for planning terrorist attacks in Europe and the expulsion of an Iranian diplomat from the Netherlands has recalled to memory Tehran’s machine of oppression that it launched after the 1979 revolution.

The machine first reared its dangerous head in confronting the external opponents of the newly-instated regime by carrying out political assassinations.

Belgian authorities had announced on July 2 the arrest of an Iranian diplomat and two other suspects for plotting a bomb attack against a rally by the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), or People's Mujahedin of Iran, that was held on June 30 in a Paris suburb.

The diplomat at the Iranian embassy in the Austrian capital Vienna was arrested in Germany.

Three suspects, two of whom were released, were detained in France.

Belgian prosecutors and intelligence said that two of the suspects had 500 grams of the homemade explosive TATP. They also found a detonation device in their car. They were identified as 38-year-old Amir S. and 33-year-old Nasimeh N. and charged with attempted terrorist murder and preparation of a terrorist act.

Days later, the Netherlands announced that it was expelling two Iranian diplomats at their country’s embassy in The Hague.

The development came some eight months after the political assassination in The Hague of Iranian Ahwazi Ahmad Mola Nissi. This coincided with the unveiling of the details of the assassination of Mohammad-Reza Kolahi, a member of the People's Mujahedin of Iran.

He is accused by Iran of carrying out the bombing of the Islamic Republican Party headquarters in Tehran in 1981 that left more than 70 senior Iranian officials dead. In 2018, it was revealed that he was living under the false identity of Ali Motamed in the Netherlands as refugee, and was murdered in December 2015.

The Netherlands did not reveal the reasons for expelling the two Iranian embassy staff members. Leaks to the Kayhan newspaper, which is close to Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei, revealed, however, that Dutch authorities had summoned the Iranian ambassador before the expulsion. He was informed that they had damning evidence that implicates the Tehran regime in the assassinations of Mola Nissi and Motamed and therefore it decided to expel the staff.

Assassinations abroad

The Iranian regime had imposed its iron grip on the country by eliminating all movements that took part in the revolution against the Shah. This included nationalist, leftist and liberal groups. Thousands of opponents were executed by the authorities and the persecution of intelligence agencies forced the opposition to flee the country. This did not deter Tehran and it assassinated hundreds of former regime members and current regime opponents in Europe and the United States.

There are no exact figures on assassinations carried out by Tehran abroad because of the different weapons it used to eliminate its victims. Regime supporters have, however, boasted about some of the operations, revealing details of some of the murders. Some countries have also succeeded in arresting Iranian agents in the wake of an assassination or even before it, similar to what happened with the Iranians in Belgium.

One of the most prominent assassinations committed by the regime targeted Shapour Bakhtiar, the last prime minister of Iran under the Shah regime, who was knifed down by assassins in his home in exile in the Parisian suburb of Suresnes in 1991.

Another victim was Shahriar Shafiq, nephew of the last Shah, who was shot dead outside of his mother’s home in Paris in 1979.

Head of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan Sadegh Sharafkandi and three others were shot dead by Iranian agents in the Mykonos Greek restaurant in Berlin, Germany in 1992.

Singer and poet Fereydoun Farrokhzad was stabbed to death in his Bonn apartment in 1992.

The Iranian regime was forced to partially stop its crime wave after the stream of condemnation sparked by its murder of Sharafkandi. The trial of the perpetrators – two Iranians and four Lebanese – lasted five years and it was avidly watched by the public due to the heinousness of their crime.

Years later, the Iranian regime sought to adopt new methods to carry out its bloody agenda. It attempted to recruit foreign agents, militant and criminal gangs to commit its crimes.

Current Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir was the victim of a failed Iranian assassination in 2011.

Detained Iranian Manssor Arbabsiar confessed to the American authorities that he had conspired to assassinate Jubeir, who was then serving as Saudi ambassador to Washington. He said that he had traveled several times to Mexico to hire a member from a local drug cartel to carry out the murder. The suspect did not realize at the time that this drug gang member was in fact a Drug Enforcement Administration agent and he was promptly arrested.

Talk of “revolution executions” dominated the rhetoric of the Iranian regime from the early days of 1979 revolution. Many of its rulers sought to establish government agencies, such as the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, to carry out its assassinations. One of these agencies claims to have 50,000 volunteers who are ready to carry out suicide attacks abroad.

Iran resorts to political assassinations when it does not have the means to arrest or execute opposition members. Their crimes reveal that Tehran pays little heed to the consequences of its operations despite the condemnation they receive. If the public is not ready to accept executions, the Iranian agents resort to covert assassinations to eliminate rivals. Several opponents have been killed by strangulation, drowning, poisoning and traffic “accidents.”

The regime has, however, failed to carry out several of its murder and terrorist plots. The latest was the one revealed against the NCRI in Paris last month. This demonstrates the extent to which security agencies in various countries have suffered from Iranian regime operations on their territories, especially France, which had served as a safe haven to opposition figures.

Despite the recent setback, the Iranian regime does not seem to be putting an end to its assassination plots. Forty years after the establishment of the current regime, the country now boasts intelligence agencies and parallel agencies and bodies that are dedicated to tracking down opponents and critics. The regime does not care about international treaties and the sovereignty of nations, which is raising concerns in Europe.

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