In June 2020, an Iranian man with Norwegian citizenship was convicted and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment after being arrested for espionage and complicity to commit murder. The central crime was committed against an Iranian opposition figure in Denmark. The offender had close connections to the Iranian embassy in Oslo, and there is a strong probability that he received his orders from that embassy.
In short: Iranian embassies, diplomats, and employees are highly active in their target countries in the areas of espionage, the plotting of assassinations and terror attacks, and the conducting of those attacks. Targeting Diplomats Iranian subversive operations have been focused on the Iranian opposition in exile, several Arab states in the Persian Gulf, Israel, several Western countries like the US and Great Britain, and the respective interests of those states. The Islamic regime of Iran has repeatedly targeted the diplomats and embassies of these countries.
In 2008, the Azerbaijani government stated that an attack on the Israeli embassy in Baku had been thwarted with the arrest of Hezbollah operatives trained by the IRGC. Azerbaijani officials revealed that Iran was planning to attack employees of the US and Israeli embassies (among others) in Baku. Four years later, in 2012, the then Israeli ambassador to Azerbaijan, Michael Lotem, was targeted by Azerbaijani nationals who had been recruited by an Azerbaijani criminal with links to Iran.
Israel’s embassies as well as its ambassadors and diplomats are high priority targets for the Islamic regime in Tehran. In 2012, it engineered several other attacks against Israeli diplomats. On February 13 of that year, bombs were placed on cars belonging to personnel at the Israeli embassies in New Delhi and Tbilisi.
In New Delhi, the bomb exploded, injuring the spouse of an Israeli defense envoy. The bomb in Tbilisi was detected and defused.
Israel blamed Iran, which of course denied it.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, stated that “Israel has bombed its embassies in New Delhi and Tbilisi to tarnish Iran’s friendly ties with the host countries.”
The next day, on February 14, an assassination plot against Itzhak Shoham, the then Israeli ambassador to Thailand, together with other Israeli diplomats, was foiled.
One of the Iranian nationals involved in the assassination attempt, Said Moradi, lost his legs as a bomb he tried to hurl at Thai police exploded prematurely.
A second Iranian was arrested at the airport. Altogether, three Iranian nationals were arrested as having been involved in this foiled plot.
Once again, the Iranian regime denied any role in the attacks, and the spokesman of the Iranian Foreign Ministry again stated that “The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that elements of the Zionist regime are responsible for this crime and is prepared to help and cooperate with the Thai government to shed all lights on these events.”
Barely a month after the foiled Thailand attack, in March 2012, Turkish officials stated that four members of the QF had been arrested for preparing attacks against Israeli diplomats in the country.
In late November 2020, the three men involved in the plot in the February 14 attack in Thailand—Said Moradi, Masoud Sedaghatzadeh, and Mohammad Khazaei—were part of a prisoner swap. They were sent back to Iran, in exchange for which the Islamic regime released Australian Islamic scholar Kylie MooreGilbert, who had been convicted in September 2018 by an Iranian court and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for espionage while she was in Iran attending a conference.
In January 2015, a mock bomb was found near the Israeli embassy in Montevideo. With the help of CCTV footage, Uruguayan investigators connected an Iranian diplomat to the fake bomb.
A few months later, the diplomat—a senior member of staff at the Iranian embassy—was expelled from the country.
One of the most well-known Iranian attempts to assassinate a diplomat occurred in 2011.
In September of that year, an Iranian national, Mansour Arbabsiar, was arrested by US intelligence on charges of planning to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US, Adel Jubeir. Just four months prior to the arrest, Iranian operatives had assassinated a Saudi diplomat in Pakistan.
Arbabsiar had close ties to the QF and received his orders from Gholam Shakuri, a QF official residing in Tehran. Arbabsiar had been instructed to contact Mexican drug cartel members to conduct the assassination.
NEXT: Iran continues espionage, assassination and terrorism
Dr. Ardavan Khoshnood (PhD, Lund University). Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at Lund University in Sweden. Criminologist with focus on offender profiling and violent crimes inclusive terrorism. From Malmö University and Lund University he holds degrees in Political Science respective Intelligence Analysis. Specializes in Iranian foreign policy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as well as the Ministry of Intelligence.