Iranian Diplomatic Infrastructure for Terrorism in Germany? (part 1)

diplomaterrorism germany

Iran’s diplomatic relations with Germany are a bit of an anomaly.

On the one hand, Iran is heavily invested in strengthening ties with Germany through its disproportionately large diplomatic infrastructure in Germany which includes an embassy in Berlin and 3 consulates in Frankfurt, Munich and Hamburg. Hamburg also boasts an Iranian chamber of commerce http://www.dihkev.de/en and a Tehran-based spiritual center http://en.izhamburg.com/.

And yet, already back in the 1990’s, the link between Iranian diplomacy and terrorist activities with Germany as its base became quite evident: “The largest European Al-Qods facility was in the Iranian embassy in Germany. The embassy’s third floor had twenty Qods employees coordinating terrorist activities in Europe” (Qods is an elite faction of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps – IRGC).

The influence of the IRGC and Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) in Iranian diplomacy might just be one of Iran’s worst-kept secrets: “Most Iranian foreign officers and diplomats have worked with MOIS, the IRGC, or other security agencies. MOIS works in coordination with the Foreign Ministry in operations carried out abroad, using Iranian embassie for collecting intelligence…Qods is believed to coordinate with MOIS through  foreign embassies, charities, and cultural centers in targeted countries.”

It is noteworthy to remember that according to Mohammad Reza Heydari, an ex-Iranian diplomat, most Iranian diplomats are recruited from the IRGC and that figure might reach as high as 80%!

Every once in a while, the link between the IRGC, terrorism and Iranian diplomats is exposed as in the aftermath of the assassination of 4 Iranian Kurdish leaders in the Mykonos restaurant in Berlin in September 1992.

Hossein Mousavian (Iran’s Ambassador in Berlin) and Ali Fallahian (Iran’s Minister of Intelligence) both tried unsuccessfully to release the assassins and transfer them to Iran before the trial.

According to the testimony of Abdel Ghassem Messbahi, a former senior Iranian intelligence official, the assassinations were authorized by the Committee for Special Operations, “a small group made up of the supreme leader, the president, the foreign minister, the minister of intelligence, and the chief of the Revolutionary Guards”.

After the verdict, German severed diplomatic relations with Iran, expelling Moussavian and fourteen of his staff members. The rest of the EU states followed suit in suspending diplomatic relations for six months. Diplomatic relations then resumed as did further evidence of diplomatic involvement in terrorist activities.

In 2007, two of the assassins serving life terms for murder were released in a shady prisoner swap for German citizen Donald Klein imprisoned in Iran. Kazem Darabi, the Iranian national received a hero’s welcome in Tehran by Ali Baqeri, the head of Iran’s Foreign Ministry in Europe.

to be continued.

 

 

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Iranian Embassy Cover Up for IRGC Operatives in Nigeria

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update from 29/08: ” Nigeria charged two of its citizens on Wednesday with assisting an Iranian militant cell in planning possible attacks on Israeli targets, alleging that one had traveled to Tehran and Dubai to receive cash and had known about spying on Israeli interests.”
On October 26th  2010, 13 shipping containers loaded with weapons (11 anti-tank weapons, 4 anti-tank mines, a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG), 21 RPG missiles, numerous 107 mm artillery rockets, 17 AK-47s, 2 sub-machine guns and 76 grenades) originating in Iran were seized by the authorities in Nigeria.

The Nigerians initially thought that the consignment of weapons was meant for “some local politicians to destabilize the country if they lose in upcoming elections“. They were later informed by Iran’s Ambassador Hussein Abdullahi that the final destination was Gambia and further investigations pointed to Senegal – both Gambia and Senegal cut off diplomatic relations with Iran following this incident.

In the meantime, Iran’s diplomatic services went into high gear to control damage. Iranian Foreign Minister at the time, Manouchehr Mottaki, flew out to Nigeria to meet his Nigerian counterpart, Odein Ajumogobia, for immediate damage control and then continued to Senegal where he was informed by Tehran that he had been sacked in absentia.

Meanwhile, two Iranian nationals who were implicated in the arms smuggling effort headed directly for the Iranian Embassy and hid there. One of them, Azami Aghajani, an IRGC member and businessman based in Tehran was finally apprehended and sentenced to 5 years in jail /sentenced to 17 year in jail in May 2013. The other suspect, Sayed Akbar Tabatabaei, the Commander of the IRGC-QF Africa Corps, entered Nigeria through a letter of recommendation by Iran’s foreign ministry and managed to escape investigations and Nigeria by claiming Diplomatic Immunity. Another IRGC officials suspected of involvement was identified as Esmail Ghani the Deputy Commander of the IRGC-QF whose authorities include “financial disbursements“.

This is a classic case in which the IRGC and its diplomatic counterpart tried to work together to diffuse an IRGC initiative that unfortunately for them was discovered.

Iranian Ex-Diplomat Connects Diplomats to Terrorism

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Mohammad Reza Heydari was an Iranian counselor of 20 years. In January 2010, he resigned from his position as an Iranian embassy councilor in Oslo and within a month he was given political asylum by Norway.

Heydari defected because he was not the regular type-cast for Iranian diplomats: Wounded in the Iran/Iraq war, he was promoted to “war-hero” status which facilitated his career as a diplomat. He became aware of his outsider standing early on noticing during his compulsory diplomat course that “most of my classmates were IRGC (Sepah) officers“.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), is an exclusive branch of Iran’s military which is “intended to protect the country’s Islamic system” and has subsequently developed into a “multibillion-dollar business empire“. The IRGC together with its elite Quds force and Hezbollah operatives are associated with numerous terrorist cells and activities all over the world as a “deterrence and retaliatory force, nested within a strategy designed to protect the regime from external threats“.

According to Heydari, the connection between the IRGC and the Iranian diplomats is simple: “whatever the Sepah did, we were there to support them” in an agenda that was meant to “transfer crisis from inside Iran to foreign countries“. This three-way connection between the Iranian Diplomats, IRGC Operatives and IRGC/Hezbollah/Quds Terrorists is worrying on many levels and although Iranian diplomats support the IRGC agenda without getting visibly involved, the nature of their support usually includes breaking numerous international/local/diplomatic laws and norms.

That doesn’t mean that all Iranian diplomats are wolves in sheep clothing and many might not (or even want to) fully understand the repercussions of their involvement in such terrorist activities. But it is safe to say that all Iranian diplomats know of the connection and some are very active. And some, like Heydari, understood the connection well enough to bravely go against the flow and blow the whistle on ex-compatriots which led to numerous threats on his own life and his family members’ lives. Two more Iranian diplomats defected later in 2010 – Hossein Alizadeh in Helsinki and Farzad Farhangian in Brussels.

Until then, it is our duty to highlight cases of diplomats enlisted in terrorist activities outside of Iran’s borders – an effort meant to enlighten hosting governments of Iranian foreign diplomats to a very shady side of Iranian “diplomacy”.