Tehran’s Terrorism Is Pressing Issue for Biden, Macron

In addition to numerous plots against American officials and U.S.-based Iranian dissidents, there have been many Tehran-backed assassination attempts on European soil.

AP/Andrew Harnik
President Biden and Macron during a State Arrival Ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House December 1, 2022. AP/Andrew Harnik

The failure of President Biden and his French dinner guest Thursday, Emmanuel Macron, to devise a comprehensive strategy to combat the Islamic Republic’s terrorism tendencies is on view for all to see in the form of Tehran’s many global assassination plots. 

As if timed to nudge the issue to the top of the agenda, the Washington Post published this morning a comprehensive summary of the uptick in attempted assassinations and other terrorism acts directed by Iran’s Islamic Revoloutionarly Guards Corps. 

Beyond numerous plots against American officials and U.S.-based Iranian dissidents, the piece in the capital’s hometown paper details Tehran-backed assassination attempts on European soil, such as the recruitment of a Paris drug dealer to murder a high-profile friend of Mr. Macron, Bernard Henri Levy. 

A German investigation has exposed an attempt by a German-Iranian man to attack Jewish targets in the country and to assassinate the German central council of Jews’ president, Josef Schuster, according to press reports today. 

President Macron recently played host to one of Iran’s frequent assassination targets, Masih Alinejad, a Brooklyn-based journalist and activist. After their meeting, Mr. Macron became the first world leader to term the current unrest in Iran a “revolution.” He has not been as forceful, though, in combating Iranian terrorism. 

“This fight is not over yet and it is important to remind all our allies and partners that we need to continue to fight terrorism in the Middle East and the near east,” Mr. Macron said today in a press conference alongside Mr. Biden. On that front, however, France and the European Union lag behind America.

“Action speaks louder than words,” the director of United Against Nuclear Iran, Jason Brodsky, told the Sun. Despite numerous Iranian attacks and assassination attempts on the continent, the European Union is yet to join America in listing the IRGC as a terrorist organization. 

In some respects, France is even more timid in pushing back against Tehran than the other EU pillar, Germany, Mr. Brodsky says. The EU as a whole has not sanctioned a single Iranian group since 2019, when it listed Tehran’s ministry of intelligence following a plot to bomb a gathering of an anti-regime Iranian group, Mujahideen-e Khalq, near Paris.

Although it could have killed numerous Parisians, that incident, as well as the attempt on Mr. Levy’s life, failed to prompt Mr. Macron to action. France has not yet downgraded diplomatic relations or cut trade relations with the Islamic Republic.

Most glaringly, France and the other European members of the United Nations Security Council are yet to trigger a mechanism that would end global diplomatic efforts to revive the failed 2015 Iran nuclear deal. While President Trump attempted to trigger that UN “snap-back” mechanism, Europeans joined Russia and China in arguing against America’s ability to do so. As a result, global sanctions against Iran have since weakened significantly. 

Although Washington officials say that the diplomacy is currently dormant, Tehran has taken notes as Mr. Biden pushed for two years to revive nuclear talks. Rather than encouraging the mullahs to tame their aggression, however, it emboldened them.  

According to the Washington Post’s account, there has been a significant uptick in Iran’s assassination drive, kidnap attempts, and bombing campaigns since Mr. Biden became president. “The tempo of the plots has dramatically increased in the past two years, and they are among the most ambitious and far-reaching in recent memory,” the Post reports. 

Assassination plots against former American government officials, including Ambassador John Bolton, Secretary Pompeo, Mr. Trump’s Iran point man, Brian Hook, and others have been widely reported — as has the plot to kill Ms. Alinejad at her Brooklyn home.  

Ms. Alinejad has long been targeted by the Tehran regime. Years ago it attempted to lure her to a purported family reunion in Turkey, from where she reportedly would have been abducted and killed. The attempts were amped up in the last few years, culminating in an arrest this summer of a man who surveilled her Brooklyn home while a gun was hidden in his car. 

Britain has exposed at least 10 Iranian-directed assassination plots since the start of this year, according to the chief of the country’s internal security agency, MI5, Ken McCallum. They included attempts to “kidnap or even kill British or U.K.-based individuals perceived as enemies of the regime,” Mr. McCallum said. 

The Washington Post identified the IRGC official who hatched the attempt on Mr. Bolton’s life as Shahram Poursafi. He has also been active in Europe, including in an assassination attempt against a Georgia-based businessman, Itzik Moshe, who is a tireless promoter of relations between Israel and the southern European country, as well as an activist in Jewish causes across Europe. 

“I hope for better protection” for members of the Jewish organizations he leads, Mr. Moshe says. “I also hope the European Union would list the IRGC as a terrorist organization and be more active against terrorists,” he told the Sun. 

Mr. Macron could teach his American host a thing or two about sympathy with the Iranian revolution. Mr. Biden could lean on his “close friend,” as he calls his French guest, to become more assertive. Both, and the EU, could do much more to push back against Tehran’s campaign of terrorism. 

The New York Sun

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