Iranians Charged With Plotting Attack on Israeli Embassy in Kenya

Two men, allegedly in possession of video footage of the embassy, arrested in a diplomatic car after visiting Iranians imprisoned on terrorism charges.

File photo: Police officers patrol in Mombasa, Kenya.
File photo: Police officers patrol in Mombasa, Kenya. Sayyid Azim, AP

Two Iranian men were charged in a Kenyan court on Thursday with collecting information to plan a terrorist act after allegedly being caught with video footage of the Israeli embassy in Nairobi.

Sayed Nasrollah Ebrahim and Abdolhosein Gholi Safaee were arrested on Tuesday in an Iranian diplomatic car after visiting two other Iranians who have been imprisoned on terrorism charges, prosecutor Duncan Ondimu said.

The suspects took pictures using a mobile phone, Ondimu said. A Kenyan driver who chauffered the vehicle belonging to the Iranian embassy has been charged with the suspects and also faces a separate charge of "abetting terrorism.

Iranian agents are suspected in attacks or thwarted attacks, largely with Israeli targets, around the globe in recent years, including in Azerbaijan, Thailand and India.

In June 2013 a Kenyan court sentenced two Iranian nationals to life in prison after convicting them of plotting attacks against Western targets in Kenya. That sentence was reduced on appeal in February to 15 years imprisonment.

Ahmad Abolfathi Mohammad and Sayed Mansour Mousavi were arrested in June 2012 and led officials to a 15-kilogram (33-pound) stash of the explosive RDX. At least 85 kilograms (187 pounds) of the explosives that authorities say was shipped into Kenya has not yet been found.

Kenyan anti-terror officials said the two Iranians are members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force, an elite and secretive unit.

In November 2015, two Kenyans admitted assisting Iranian state intelligence to plot attacks on western targets in Kenya, according to the country's police chief. Abubakar Sadiq Louw, 69, and Yassin Sambai Juma, 25, confessed to being spies for the Quds Force, according to Joseph Boinnet.

He said the two had been given money by their handlers to case their targets for future terror attacks and to recruit others, including children. He declined to say which western targets were being surveyed.