Tehran has escalated its efforts to “to kidnap and kill government officials, activists and journalists around the world, including in the United States,” The Washington Post reported on Thursday, based on information provided by American, European and Middle Eastern officials, activists and journalists.
According to the Post, the Iranian government has set its sights on retired U.S. officials, critical media, dissidents abroad – including in the United States, Britain, Canada and Turkey – and “Jewish civilians or those with links to Israel.”
Such attempts, it reported, are implemented by criminal proxies and while this ensures a lower level of professionalism than operations carried out by government agents, “officials say Iran’s persistence makes it likely to eventually carry out the killing of a high-profile dissident, journalist or Western government figure, and that could spark direct confrontation with Tehran.”
But while Iran has carried out such operations for years, their frequency and scope has increased significantly in the recent past.
In a statement to the Post, a Canadian intelligence spokesman said that his country was “aware that hostile state actors, including the Islamic Republic of Iran, monitor and intimidate Canadian communities, with diaspora communities often disproportionately targeted,” and that it was actively investigating several threats to life emanating from the Islamic Republic of Iran based on credible intelligence.”
Last October, Israel claimed that Iran attempted to carry out a “terror attack” targeting Israeli businesspeople in Cyprus and this summer Turkish authorities arrested two Iranian citizens suspected of planning to assassinate Israeli citizens on its soil.
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In August, a member of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards force was charged in absentia for an attempted plot to murder John Bolton, who was a national security adviser to former President Donald Trump until 2019.
And on Thursday, German authorities stated that they were investigating suspicions that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard was connected to three attempted attacks on synagogues last month.
A young man of Iranian origin, Ramin Y., who was recently arrested in Germany, is the main suspect in organizing a shooting at a synagogue in the city of Essen, an attempt to set fire to a synagogue in the city of Bochum, and planning to carry out an attack on a synagogue in Dortmund – all events took place on November 18.
According to reports in the German media, Ramin worked in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps after leaving Iran in September 2021
Also in the crosshairs was French-Jewish philosopher and author Bernard-Henri Lévy, whom the Post said may have become a target of the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force due to his vocal criticism of the Islamic Republic.
Iran and Israel are locked in a shadow conflict, with Tehran funding terrorist groups in Israel’s borders and Jerusalem carrying out attacks on Iranian nuclear sites and scientists.
This summer, a senior member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, Sayyad Khodaei, was assassinated on in front of his home in Tehran, and other reported assassinations of military figures and scientists involved in weapons programs followed. Khodaei was likely behind a series of plots against Israeli businesspeople and diplomats in various countries this year.
The conflict has also seen an escalation in mutual cyberattacks, with former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stating in June that in his “approach with our enemies, especially Iran, we don’t go around just wrecking havoc in Tehran. That’s never been our policy. But our policy is if you mess with Israel you’ll pay a price and you can no longer hit Israel through proxies and get away with it. We’re not going to try and fight those folks but hit the bully.”
Reuters contributed to this report.