Mohammad Sadat Khansari
The Iranian regime’s terrorism in the region and beyond raises serious concerns. After the recent arrest of two terrorists in the United States, with possible links to Tehran, there is troubling news coming from the Ayatollah’s network of terrorism in Turkey.
In recent years, Turkey has become a prime destination for Iranian dissidents and refugees to try to free themselves from the regime’s clutches. Meanwhile, Tehran has also been quite active there.
The mullahs have been spending billions of dollars of people’s wealth on terrorism and forming networks in different countries to save their sinking regime. From the Americas to Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, Tehran has formed extensive networks of terrorism and espionage. It uses Turkey, in some cases, to lure and carry out cross-border kidnapping of dissidents. The Iranian regime has recently arrested and kidnapped two Iranian-Arab citizens in Turkey after snaring them in a “honey trap.”
In October 2021, The Iranian regime’s plot to kidnap Mehrdad Abdarbashi, an Iranian ex-pilot in the border city of Van, failed. The Turkish police arrested 11 agents, including some Turkish citizens.
In February 2020, the Turkish media reported that police had dismantled a terrorist ring that planned to abduct Shahnam Golshani, an Iranian refugee in Turkey. Golshani later revealed that some local agents were involved in his foiled kidnapping.
The regime’s terror squad consisted of 17 agents, including Morteza Soltan Sanjari, Ali Ghahreman Haji Abad, and several retired Turkish army officers. The same group had kidnapped an Iranian named Yagub Hafez in Turkey and transferred him to Iran.
Tehran’s ominous presence in Turkey is not limited to kidnapping Iranians. On November 14, 2019, the Iranian regime’s agents assassinated Masoud Molavi Vardanjani, an Iranian dissident who had run a channel on Telegram, exposing the regime’s corruption.
Later in March 2020, Reuters revealed in an exclusive report that the regime’s diplomats “instigated killing of dissidents in Istanbul,” per Turkish officials.
According to Turkish officials, “Video footage broadcast on Turkish television after Vardanjani’s killing showed a gunman running past two men as they walked in central Istanbul’s Sisli neighborhood at 10 pm on Nov. 14 last year.”
The Vardanjani’s companion, who was not harmed at all, was later identified as Ali Esfanjani. According to Reuters, Esfanjani “went to the Iranian consulate” in the “morning before the killing.” “He later met the gunman to discuss details of the operation, and the officials said,” Reuters wrote, quoting Turkish officials.
Since taking power in 1979 in Iran, the mullahs have been playing the terrorism card. Whenever it sees itself engulfed by domestic crises, the regime goes to its playbook with exporting terrorism and oppressing dissent as its centerpiece.
The Iranian regime’s terrorism in Turkey dates back to the 1990s. Tehran’s operatives carried out several assassinations in Turkey, targeting Iranian human rights defenders and members of Iran’s principal opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), and its umbrella organization, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). Hossein Abedini, an NCRI member, survived an assassination in March 1990. The actual target was Mohammad Mohaddessin, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the MEK’s parent coalition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
Ali Akbar Ghorbani, a senior MEK member, was abducted in 1992 in Istanbul by an extremist group, Islamic Action, at the behest of Tehran. Along with the regime’s agents sent from Tehran, the group’s members tortured and killed Ghorbani and later buried his mutilated body in a shallow grave.
On Tuesday, February 20, 1996, at 9:00 pm, the Iranian regime’s terrorists assassinated Zahra Rajabi, NCRI’s representative in Turkey, along with an MEK activist. According to Turkish prosecutors, Reza Barzegar Masoumi, an Iranian regime intelligence agent who had disguised himself as a MEK supporter, led the assassins to the NCRI office at Fateh district in Istanbul.
Turkish authorities later revealed that several Iranian regime diplomat-terrorists were directly involved in the terror plot.
Using its diplomatic missions and embassies as centers of spies and terrorists has been the regime’s modus operandi. In 2018, the European security services apprehended the regime’s Vienna-based diplomat, Assadollah Assadi, who had plotted to bomb the NCRI’s rally in Paris.
Due to the West’s feckless approach, the Iranian regime has only stepped up its terrorist activities, using them as leverage to blackmail its foreign interlocutors. By engaging in dialogue with the Iranian regime, to “contain” Tehran, Western powers are countenancing havoc to beget chaos. Granting any concessions to the regime in Tehran will only increase its ability to destabilize the Middle East.
The international community should double its efforts to tackle Tehran’s expanding terrorism. The terrorist Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) should not only remain on the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, but the regime’s diplomatic missions should be closed, and Tehran’s agents should be expelled. This is the only way to curb Iran’s terrorism. Anything less would only encourage the mullahs to continue their terrorist path.