The rogue regime in Iran has been repeatedly threatening of avenging the reported assassination of its chief nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was shot dead outside of Tehran in 2020. Such repeated threats remind of Iran’s long history of both sponsoring global terrorism and actively engaging in it with its own personnel, and it also proves – Iran has spent decades in building a highly active Shiite terror network in the world. According to a credible intelligence source, the Iranian regime is secretly plotting series of nerve-agent attacks on civilians and officials inside the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia by the end of this year.
Iran producing Novichok nerve-agent
Chemical weapons, and their precursors, were banned by the Chemical Weapons Convention, which has been signed and ratified by nearly all the countries in the world. However, the illegal use of chemical weapons, whether by state agencies or terrorist organizations, remains a threat.
Chemical weapons were used by Iraqi forces in the 1980s against Iranian forces and Kurdish civilians. Some chemical weapons, such as chlorine gas, are believed to have been used in recent years in the Syrian civil war.
Current databases include mass spectra of the more common chemical warfare agents; however, more work needs to be carried out on rarer agents. The so-called Novichok agents are a range of highly toxic nerve agents developed in the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s.
According to intelligence sources, the Iranian researchers synthesized five Novichok agents, along with four deuterated analogs. They were all O-alkyl N-[bis(dimethylamino)methylidene]-P-methylphosphonamidate compounds (i.e. molecules with the typical nerve agent phosphorus group coupled to N’N’-tetramethylguanidine). The O-alkyl group was varied, with the methoxy, ethoxy, isopropoxy, phenoxy, and 2,6-dimethylphenoxy derivatives being prepared. The syntheses were carried out on a micro-scale in order to minimize exposure.
The synthesized nerve agents were examined using GC/MS, using a 40–280°C GC ramp, an electron ionization (EI) source and a mass selective detector (MSD). The compounds all showed a good to moderate molecular ion. The other main ions were identified with the help of the mass spectra from the deuterated analogs. The fragmentation was mostly as might be expected; for example, for the methoxy analog, the base peak involved loss of a dimethylamino group and the phosphorus methyl group. For the phenoxy compound, the base peak was that from the loss of a dimethylamino group; the authors propose an intramolecular reaction involving attack from the ortho position of the phenoxy group on the central ‘guanidine’ carbon, leading to the loss of the dimethylamino group and formation of a stable sigma complex. Some evidence for this mechanism is provided by the spectrum of the 2,6-dimethylphenoxy derivative, where the corresponding peak is far weaker, presumably because the ortho positions are blocked by the methyl groups. A distinctive McLafferty-type rearrangement, with the loss of an alkene from the alkoxy group, was seen with derivatives where this was possible, such as ethoxy and isopropoxy, but not in methoxy and phenoxy derivatives, where such a rearrangement could not occur.
The compounds were examined by LC-MS/MS, using electrospray ionization (ESI) source and a quadrupole tandem mass spectrometer. The HPLC used an aqueous acetonitrile gradient system, with 20 mM formic acid. In general, the ESI spectra were similar to the EI spectra. The facile loss of a dimethylamino group with the phenoxy derivative was again noted.
Iranian scientists have given a code name to their brand of Novichok as Azraeel – which according to Qur’an is the name of the Angel of Death.
According to information, Iran is currently recruiting volunteers for executing its vicious plan of causing “optimum damage” to Saudi and UAE nationals through nerve agent attacks. It is further learned that most of the recruits for this secret project are from the African nations and former Soviet republics. Members of the Iranian intelligence agency are coordinating the recruitment by working as under-cover members of the Iranian Cultural Center in various countries.
Iran’s tactic of smuggling-out Novichok agent
According to a leaked data, the Iranian regime is going to ship-out the consignments of Novichok and similar nerve agents inside Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates being packed inside bottles of concentrated perfume. Iranian nationals in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are assigned to coordinate this dangerous mission.
According to statistical data, the UAE is currently home to 700,000 Iranian expatriates, most of whom live in Dubai. The Iranian Club in Dubai is the main social club of Iranian expatriates in the country, which is also known as the key activity point of the Iranian intelligence. The Iranian population in UAE also includes small communities of Baloch people and Khuzestani Arabs.
There are an estimated over eight thousand Iranian-backed businesses in Dubai alongside the Iranian Business Council and Iranian Hospital. According to information, Iranians have business investments worth above US$400 billion in the United Arab Emirates. That makes a very convenient way for the Iranian spy agencies in mobilizing funds required for the recruitment of agents as well as executing terrorist plots in the Middle East and the world.
Iranian business entities in the UAE are having contacts with various individuals and business establishments in other Middle Eastern nations, including Qatar, Iraq, Jordan, Yemen, Bahrain, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. It is anticipated that Iranians in the UAE are mainly coordinating the issues related to funding Houthis terrorists in Yemen as well as Shiite terror outfits and pro-Iran groups and individuals in Iraq.
Iranian spies in the Middle East
Iranian regime has also infiltrated deep inside the military establishments in the United Arab Emirates. Back in 2017, the Abu Dhabi Federal Court of Appeals issued tough rulings in a range of cases related to state security, handing out jail sentences ranging from three to 15 years in cases related to the promotion of terrorism, espionage for foreign countries, and joining terrorist organizations.
The court sentenced a 28-year-old Emirati, identified as H.A.M.M., to 15 years for spying for Iran.
The military man was found guilty of transferring sensitive military information to Iranian agents working at the Iranian embassy in Abu Dhabi.
The court also ordered the confiscation of all documents and means of communications and directed him to pay for all judicial expenses.
The court also sentenced a Sudanese woman, 46, to 10 years in prison to be followed by deportation for aiding and abetting the military man through facilitating his contacts with the Iranian agents.
The court sentenced four Jordanians to 10 years in prison and a Dh1 million fine each after being convicted of setting up pages on social media to promote the ideology of Shiite terrorist organizations by publishing articles, information, photos, videos, and electronic documents, which jeopardize the interests of the UAE.
According to the court documents, the materials contained false and fabricated information on the foreign policy of the UAE.
In another case, the court sentenced a 35-year-old Emirati man to 10 years in prison and a Dh100,000 fine after being convicted of espionage for Iran.
The man, who passed on information about a security entity to agents of the Iranian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, was also ordered to be put under probation for three years after serving his prison term.
The court sentenced his accomplice, a 45-year-old Bahraini, to three years in prison and a Dh50,000 fine for having conspired with the first defendant to set up social networking sites and spread lies through them. The court also found him guilty of deliberately insulting UAE leaders by spreading lies on those sites.
In another case, the court sentenced an Emirati man to seven years in prison for spying for Iran.
The court found the defendant guilty of communicating information about oil and gas fields in Abu Dhabi with Iranian agents.
In 2019, a trove of 700-pages leaked cables exposed Iran’s espionage activities inside Middle Eastern nations.
In February 2010, Iranian spies had Tehran’s most wanted man in their sights. Their target, Sunni Islamist militant Abdolmalek Rigi, had killed an Iranian general and was responsible for a string of terrorist attacks in Iran from across the Pakistani border. After Rigi boarded a commercial flight to Dubai that took him through Iranian airspace, secret agents on board appeared, ordered the plane to land, and then arrested Rigi. He was later executed.
That’s just one of the many secret operations in recent years by Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS). It is a non-military governmental organization that operates both inside and outside of Iran. Intelligence experts rank MOIS as one of the largest and most dynamic intelligence agencies in the Middle East.
As an official Iranian government agency, MOIS is overwhelmingly staffed by Iranians. It does, however, recruit other nationalities for its missions.
Until the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009, most MOIS personnel were not uniformly hard-line Islamists, although they were vetted for ideological conformity. For example, in an article on the Fars News Web site in July 2005, the former minister of intelligence and security, Ghorbanali Dorri Najafabadi, said that when he consulted the former foreign minister, Ali Akbar Velayati, about whether to accept an offer from President Mohammad Khatami (president, 1997–2005) to become head of MOIS, Velayati told him “the Ministry of Intelligence is like a city which is governed by various insights and trends.”
MOIS operates under the direct supervision of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, who claims to be the leader of the Muslim world. As noted above, MOIS agents are known as “Unknown Soldiers of Imam Zaman,” who is the Twelfth Imam in the succession of Islamic leaders of Shi’a Muslims. However, the organization is not bound by Shi’a beliefs. To advance its goals, MOIS recruits individuals regardless of their beliefs, including Arabs or Jews to spy in Israel. For example, the deputy minister of MOIS, Saeed Emami, was appointed to a key position in the ministry because of his family record, despite allegedly being Jewish by birth.
After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iranian intelligence functioned like intelligence organizations in every other revolutionary country—it identified and eradicated opponents and defectors inside and outside of the country. Thus, collecting information was not the priority. At this time, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was providing the most foreign information to the Iranian government.
From the beginning of the Revolution in 1979, internal security was in the hands of Islamic Revolutionary Kumitehs (literally, committees), which Ayatollah Khomeini ordered to be formed because of concerns that a police force might be more loyal to the shah than to the new revolutionary regime. People established Kumitehs in their neighborhoods in places such as police stations, mosques, and youth centers. In addition to having responsibility for security, each Kumiteh had a unit to gather information (intelligence) on its neighbors. Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani, who was one of the revolutionaries close to Ayatollah Khomeini, was in charge of the Kumitehs.
Kumitehs may have operated under the Ministry of Interior.15 Other groups were involved in gathering information as well, including judges who were in charge of cases dealing with sabotage by opposition groups and with counterintelligence.
According to a 2012 report by the Federal Research Division at the Library of Congress, the spy agency counts as “the most powerful and well-supported ministry among all Iranian ministries”, in terms of finance and support.