How Iran Works with Organized Crime to Eliminate Its Enemies

On December 12, the Islamic Republic executed a dissident expatriate journalist named Ruhollah Zam. Apparently Zam, who was living in Belgium, was lured by a comely young woman to Iraq, where Iranian agents kidnapped him and brought him to his homeland against his will. Tehran has used such schemes more than once to dispose of its enemies, along with carrying out assassinations on foreign soil. Michael Segall describes recent revelations about the ayatollahs’ methods:

A series of articles published recently in the Turkish, British, and American media indicate that Iranian intelligence is making effective use of major international crime organizations and drug cartels in several countries to advance its goals, notably capturing dissidents in the diaspora. These organizations have affiliates in other countries, for example Romania, a country where a senior Iranian judge was recently assassinated during a mysterious trip.

One such organization has become the long arm of Iranian intelligence. It is run by Naji Sharifi Zindashti, born in Oroumieh, Iran, and the son of a [Kurdish] Peshmerga fighter. Zindashti was detained in Evin prison after a conviction for drug trafficking at the age of twenty. He escaped from prison and lived in Turkey for many years. Zindashti had contacts with Turkish politicians in President Erdogan’s AKP party. . . . He was mysteriously released from prison in 2010 after his arrest in 2007 in Turkey for possession of 75 kilograms of heroin.

Zindashti was also wanted in Greece in 2014 after the discovery of the largest shipment of heroin in European history. After the two-ton shipment was uncovered on a freighter, a series of mysterious murders also took place in various countries.

It should be noted that over the years, even as Iran has carried out assassinations in European countries, these Western nations have maintained trade relations with it, while ignoring repeated human-rights violations in Iran and global terrorist operations outside it. Even now, despite the sanctions imposed on the Iranian Intelligence Ministry, the European Union’s primary interest is to continue the economic ties with Iran.

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: European Union, Human Rights, Iran, Terrorism

 

As Vladimir Putin Sidles Up to the Mullahs, the Threat to the U.S. and Israel Grows

On Tuesday, Russia launched an Iranian surveillance satellite into space, which the Islamic Republic will undoubtedly use to increase the precision of its military operations against its enemies. The launch is one of many indications that the longstanding alliance between Moscow and Tehran has been growing stronger and deeper since the Kremlin’s escalation in Ukraine in February. Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Katherine Lawlor write:

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi have spoken at least four times since the invasion began—more than either individual has engaged most other world leaders. Putin visited Tehran in July 2022, marking his first foreign travel outside the territory of the former Soviet Union since the war began. These interactions reflect a deepening and potentially more balanced relationship wherein Russia is no longer the dominant party. This partnership will likely challenge U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe.

Tehran has traditionally sought to purchase military technologies from Moscow rather than the inverse. The Kremlin fielding Iranian drones in Ukraine will showcase these platforms to other potential international buyers, further benefitting Iran. Furthermore, Russia has previously tried to limit Iranian influence in Syria but is now enabling its expansion.

Deepening Russo-Iranian ties will almost certainly threaten U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe. Iranian material support to Russia may help the Kremlin achieve some of its military objectives in Ukraine and eastern Europe. Russian support of Iran’s nascent military space program and air force could improve Iranian targeting and increase the threat it poses to the U.S. and its partners in the Middle East. Growing Iranian control and influence in Syria will enable the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [to use its forces in that country] to threaten U.S. military bases in the Middle East and our regional partners, such as Israel and Turkey, more effectively. Finally, Moscow and Tehran will likely leverage their deepening economic ties to mitigate U.S. sanctions.

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Read more at Critical Threats

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Russia, U.S. Security, Vladimir Putin