Strong quake kills at least two people in northwest Iran
In the absence of deterrents, Iran’s terror plans will continue on Western soil: analysts
NEW YORK — The US Justice Department’s announcement on Friday of the arrest of three Eastern European men with ties to Tehran in connection with the plot to assassinate Iranian-American journalist and human rights activist Masih Alinejad came as little surprise to pundits and analysts.
The news has recalled much deja vu of such Iranian activity on American soil, including the 2011 plot to kill then-Saudi Ambassador to the US Adel Al-Jubeir.
Analysts lament the lack of deterrents for Iran and warn that such plans will continue to unfold on US territory unless stronger action is taken.
The three men are now facing charges of murder for hire and money laundering for plotting to kill Alinejad.
One of the men was arrested last summer in the Brooklyn neighborhood where Alinejad lives. At the time, he was accused of possessing a firearm after police found an AK-47 rifle along with ammunition in the back seat of his car.
The incident raised many suspicions at the time until the backstory of what turned out to be revealed on Friday.
The Justice Ministry said in a statement that since at least July the three men have been “charged with carrying out” the murder of Alinejad, “which was previously the target of Iranian government plans to intimidate, harass and kidnap.” She.
“As late as 2020 and 2021, Iranian intelligence officials and operatives plotted to kidnap (Alinejad) from the United States for extradition to Iran to silence (their) criticism of the regime.”
All three defendants, Attorney General Merrick Garland said Friday, are currently in custody.
Assistant Attorney General Lisa Monaco said at a news conference unveiling the indictments: “Today’s indictments expose a dangerous threat to national security — a dual threat from a malicious transnational criminal group operating from what it believes to be a safe haven of a rogue nation. That rogue nation is the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Jason Brodsky, political director at United Against Nuclear Iran, told Arab News that Friday’s arrests show that “there is a lack of deterrents regarding the Islamic Republic operating on US soil and we need to change that calculus, otherwise we can only expect more of these plans in the future.”
On October 11, 2011, two Iranian nationals were charged in a federal court in New York with planning an assassination attempt on Al-Jubeir.
What has become known as the Iranian assassination, or Iranian terror plot, involved planning to plant a bomb in front of the restaurant where Al-Jubeir was dining and then bombing the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington, DC.
“These cases will be treated as law enforcement matters. They are usually dealt with with an indictment, a strongly worded warning and a statement from a senior US official,” Brodsky said.
“And then there will probably be some sanctions in the future. And that will not change anything in the long run, because the costs are usually manageable (in the minds of Iranian officials). You are dealing with piecemeal sanctions against people who have no assets in the US,” he added.
“You are dealing with a statement about which there have been so many warnings that it does not seem to deter you.
“And the charges are usually not necessarily a deterrent. In this case it is interesting because they were able to take these three people into custody.
“But that will be manageable for Tehran because they are not Iranian officials. They are members of an Eastern European crime syndicate.”
Containing Iranian criminal activities in western territories requires a “multilateral perspective” in the long term, Brodsky said. “This is a problem that affects not only the US (but) our European allies as well.”
Last November, two British-Iranian journalists working in Britain for the Iran International TV channel were warned by police about a “credible” plan by Tehran to kill them.
The newspaper accused Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of being part of a “significant and dangerous escalation” of Tehran’s “campaign to intimidate Iranian journalists working abroad”.
Earlier this month, French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was hit by a cyberattack after it published a cartoon of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
“A digital attack doesn’t kill anyone, but it sets the tone. The mullahs’ regime feels so threatened that it considers it vital to hack a French newspaper’s website,” Charlie Hebdo said.
Hossein Salami, commander in chief of the IRGC, threatened revenge on the staff of the French magazine on Tuesday.
Brodsky said it was important to “consider possible kinetic retaliation for these types of conspiracies to stop the Iranian system from going any further.”
He cited yet another indictment, unsealed last summer, accusing an IRGC member of the contract killing of a former US national security adviser.
“So if we continue to treat these cases as purely law enforcement matters with very minimal or non-existent political response, we can only expect the Iranian system to perpetuate this vicious cycle,” Brodsky said.
Although the IRGC is labeled a terrorist organization in the US, it is still not listed as such in European jurisdictions. Brodsky said it was of the utmost urgency for the EU and UK to do so “and quickly”.
It is “overdue for the IRGC to be sanctioned as a terrorist organization in (European) jurisdictions. It would have significant implications in that it would increase “market deterrence related to the Islamic Republic” and would ban former IRGC businessmen and their families from profiting from illicit wealth in Western jurisdictions, he added.
Most importantly, designating the IRGC as a terrorist would also have a “symbolic” effect and would be “a signal from the world’s leading democracies that they stand with the Iranian people who bravely protested and shouted, ‘Death to the IRGC,’ and it would show that (Europe) stands with the people and not with their oppressors,” he said. “Not to mention the many Arab countries that are also victims of the IRGC.”