INU, 25 January 2018 - Germany’s domestic intelligence agency conducted an investigation that sparked the federal prosecutor’s office to order raids by the German police around the country last week. Properties linked to suspected Iranian agents believed to have spied on persons and organizations, “on behalf of an intelligence unit associated with Iran,” were stormed.
Although Iranian authorities have declined to comment on this situation, in his article for Arab News, Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, who is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, says that this is to evade responsibility. “The regime has successfully escaped accountability since its establishment in 1979,” he writes.
“The EU and Germany should take this issue extremely seriously and reconsider their full support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal. In addition, Germany ought to reconsider its increasing business deals and trade with the Iranian regime. These policies only strengthen the regime’s institutions, which are behind such heinous and illegal acts,” according to Dr. Majid Rafizadeh.
He also notes that Germany’s appeasement policies as well as its trade with the regime, make infiltration by Iranian says much easier.
Dr. Rafizadeh believes that “Iran’s espionage in the West highlights the fact that appeasing the Iranian leaders with trade and sanctions relief only empowers them, making them stronger and more destructive as they pursue their hegemonic and ideological ambitions. This causes further instability and conflicts.”
Espionage in foreign countries is said to be under the purview of two major Iranian institutions: the Quds Force, an elite branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and the Ministry of Intelligence, under the leadership of Mahmoud Alavi, who was appointed by the “moderate” president, Hassan Rouhani.
Iranian spies and agents not only target political institutions to get information or change their policies, but also target universities, and schools to determine the direction of their research and influence their syllabuses. Journalists, scholars, and civilian institutions are targeted for several reasons, according to Dr. Rafizadeh, who says that journalists may be bribed or persuaded to write articles and books in favor of the Iranian regime.
Earlier this month, after a 31-year-old Pakistani student was convicted of spying for Tehran on Reinhold Robbe, a German Social Democratic Party (SPD) politician, Germany summoned Iran’s ambassador in Berlin. The American Jewish Committee in Berlin urged Germany’s Foreign Ministry to expel the Iranian ambassador.
Federal prosecutors recently filed charges against two men suspected of spying on opposition group the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK) for the Iranian regime.
In Kuwait last August, authorities arrested 12 people who were convicted in absentia of spying for the Iranian regime and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah. Additionally, a Bahraini court found a group of 19 people guilty of leaking information to the IRGC and Hezbollah in exchange for receiving “material support” from the Iranian regime, last October. In late of 2016, a court in Saudi Arabia found 15 people guilty of spying for Iran. Clearly, the Middle East is not exempt from Iranian spying activities.
Because Iran’s embassies are often used as sites for espionage networks, Dr. Rafizadeh writes, “The International community must hold the Iranian regime accountable and bring charges against the Quds Force and the Ministry of Intelligence. Countries that find themselves victims of Iran’s espionage should halt diplomatic and economic relations with Tehran, as well as expel the regime’s ambassadors.”