Iran’s Long History of Terror in Europe

In June, German and Belgian police—acting on a tip from Israeli intelligence—foiled a plot to bomb a rally being held in France by an Iranian opposition group, which several American public figures were expected to attend. The plot was orchestrated by an Iranian diplomat stationed at Tehran’s embassy in Vienna. This was by no means the first time one of the Islamic Republic’s diplomats has engaged in terrorist activity; the most notorious examples include the hijacking of TWA flight 847, several attempts on the life of Salman Rushdie, and the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires. Matthew Levitt writes:

In June 2018, a [separate] investigation by Dutch intelligence led to the expulsion of two Iranian diplomats based at the Iranian embassy in Amsterdam. . . . This followed the assassination several months earlier of an Iranian Arab activist who was gunned down in the Dutch capital. . . . In January 2018, after weeks of surveillance, German authorities raided several homes tied to Iranian operatives who reportedly were collecting information on possible Israeli and Jewish targets in Germany, including the Israeli embassy and a Jewish kindergarten. . . .

[I]n 2012, four [Iranian] operatives were found trying to attack Israeli targets in Turkey, and another was arrested in Sofia, Bulgaria, where he was conducting surveillance of a local synagogue. . . . The first successful assassination of an Iranian dissident in Western Europe occurred in 1984. . . .

Despite the fact that so much of this activity has occurred on their soil, European countries have been consistently passive in their response:

The most daring and public assassinations Hizballah carried out at the behest of its Iranian masters occurred on September 17, 1992, when operatives gunned down Sadegh Sharafkandi, secretary-general of the PDKI—the largest movement of Iranian Kurdish opposition to Tehran—and three of his colleagues at the Mykonos restaurant in Berlin. This operation also involved Iranian diplomats. In its findings, a Berlin court ruled that the attack was carried out by a Hizballah cell by order of the Iranian government. . . .

And yet, the German court ruling in the Mykonos case did not translate into durable and tangible action against Iran or Hizballah. . . . Apparently concerned over the diplomatic ramifications, the German ambassador to Iran distanced his government from [any] assertion of Iranian responsibility for the Mykonos attack. While many European nations withdrew their ambassadors from Iran following the ruling, this diplomatic freeze lasted only months. And . . . none of the Iranian leaders identified in the court judgment—[then-President Hashemi] Rafsanjani, [then-Foreign Minister Ali Akbar] Velayati, or [Supreme Leader] Ali Khamenei—was ever held to account for his role in the attack.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: AMIA bombing, Europe, Hizballah, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, Terrorism


Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security