By Pooya Stone
On 17 October 2019, the United States Department of State released a new report on ‘terrorist’ activities by Iran during its talks with world powers over the 2015 nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Included in this report was a past attack on members of the main Iranian opposition group People’s Mojahedin (Mujahedin-e Khalq or MEK) in Camp Ashraf in Iraq on 1 September 2013 which led to a massacre, perpetrated and executed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), Quds Force:
The report said: “On September 1, 2013, an attack by Iranian proxies Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) on Camp Ashraf in Iraq, led to the deaths of 50 members of the Mujahedeen-e Khalq, or MEK. Press reports claim members of the QF not only planned the attack but also played a direct combat role in it. The QF, along with KH and AAH members, also abducted seven MeK members and smuggled them back to Iran, according to the press. The missing seven members haven’t been seen or heard from since the attack.”
Including in this report was also a long list of Iran’s malign and terrorist activities in the Middle East and other places around the world, including:
- During the period of JCPOA negotiations, Iran continued to provide arms, financing, training, and the facilitation of Shia fighters to the Assad regime.
- On January 23, 2013, Yemeni authorities seized an Iranian dhow, the Jihan, off the coast of Yemen. The dhow was carrying sophisticated Chinese antiaircraft missiles, C-4 explosives, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and a number of other weapons and explosives. The shipment of lethal aid was likely headed to Houthi separatists in Northern Yemen.
- On February 20, 2013, the Nigerian State Security Service (SSS) announced the December 2012 arrest of three Nigerian members of an Iranian terrorist cell. Two of the men, Abdullahi Mustapha Berende and Saheed Oluremi Adewumi, were officially charged on August 28, 2013. Nigerian authorities claim the cell was conducting surveillance on American and Israeli targets in Nigeria for a possible terrorist attack.
- On December 29, 2013, the Bahraini Coast Guard interdicted a speedboat filled with weapons and explosives that were likely bound for Shia oppositionists in Bahrain, specifically the 14 February Youth Coalition (14 FYC). Bahraini authorities accused the QF of providing opposition militants with explosives training in order to carry out attacks in Bahrain. The interdiction led to the discovery of two weapons and explosives cache sites in Bahrain, the dismantling of a car bomb, and the arrest of 15 Bahraini nationals.
- Iran continued its terrorist-related activity during the period of JCPOA negotiations, including support for Lebanese Hizballah, Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza, and various groups in Iraq and throughout the Middle East.
- In 2014, Iran dramatically increased the arming and funding of Shia militant groups in Iraq, including the terrorist group Kata’ib Hezballah, and incorporated these groups into the Popular Mobilization Force, a militant organization separate from the Iraqi Government that today wields enormous influence and power outside the democratically elected government.
- In 2015, the Government of Bahrain raided, interdicted, and rounded up numerous Iran-sponsored weapons caches, arms transfers, and militants. This included the Bahraini government’s September 2015 discovery of a bomb-making facility with 1.5 tons of high-grade explosives.
- On January 12, 2016, the IRGC Navy seized two U.S. Navy riverine command boats near Iran’s Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf and held the U.S. sailors for 15 hours, in contravention of their rights under the Geneva Convention.
- In 2016, German authorities convicted an IRGC-QF operative for spying on the ex-head of a German-Israeli group and people close to him.
- In 2016, the UN Secretary-General expressed concern over Iran’s illicit arms shipments following the seizure of an arms shipment by the U.S. Navy in the Gulf of Oman. The U.S. concluded that the shipment originated from Iran and was bound for Yemen, in clear violation of a UN Security Council arms embargo on Houthi militants.
- In January 2017, a recruiter for the IRGC claimed that thousands of Afghans were currently fighting in Syria to defend the regime of Iran’s ally Bashar al-Assad.
- On January 4, 2018, Ukrainian authorities arrested two Iranian nationals accused of procuring missile parts.