The thwarted Paris explosion-plot gives a clear picture of how Iran’s intelligence agents operate under Iranian diplomatic cover, via Iranian embassies, inside other countries.

By Syafruddin Arsyad | Middle East Politics

The United States recently designated the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the military arm of the Iran regime, as foreign terrorist organization (FTO). Is this move enough to weaken Iranian regime’s terror network globally?

It is not enough to pin just one nail on a coffin. Without using the number of nails that are necessary to seal a coffin, the work remains incomplete. Likewise, with the recent terror-designation of the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), only one element of Iran regime’s terror capability is checked. Now this move must be followed by several other measures in order to ensure incapacitating the regime’s terror activities completely.

One of such measures would be to curtail the finances, international mobility and, most importantly, the operational capabilities of other elements of the regime’s terror network. Limiting the ability and scope of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) operatives, many of who operates via Iranian embassies across the world, could be the first step towards this end.

It is worth noting here that while Iranian regime uses the IRGC to recruit, expand and spread its terrorist proxies primarily across the Middle East, it uses the MOIS for fulfilling its global agenda and for carrying-out hostility in other parts of the globe in cooperation with the IRGC.

MOIS INVOLVED IN THWARTED PARIS EXPLOSION-PLOT

On July 1, 2018, an Iranian diplomat, who was alleged by the U.S. and European officials of being the station chief of the MOIS, was arrested in Germany for his alleged involvement in a plot to bomb a huge rally of Iranian dissidents in Paris. He was later extradited to Belgium, where two others, who were suspected to be his associates in the planning, were detained.

The rally was eventually attended by thousands of people, including the U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani.

The diplomat, Assadollah ­Assadi, who had been a high-ranking official in Vienna’s Iranian embassy since 2014, was under surveillance for some time prior to his arrest.

This thwarted Paris explosion-plot gives a clear picture of how the MOIS agents operate, via Iranian embassies, inside other countries.

REGIME COULD USE MOIS AGAINST U.S., EUROPE

As the Iranian leaders are now feeling the pressure of the full sanctions on Iranian oil and IRGC’s terror-designation, they will try and shift much of the IRGC’s human resources and assets into Iranian intelligence service that operates under the MOIS.

What’s worse, amid the current rising tensions between the West and Iran, the regime in Tehran could use MOIS against Western assets and interests — particularly those of the U.S. and the UK — not only in Western cities, but also in countries which are friendly to both West and Iran, including Indonesia, India, Malaysia and Pakistan.

In this context, if the Western governments in North America and Europe — particularly the U.S. and the UK governments — designate the MOIS as terrorist organization, this would effectively limit the ability and scope of the MOIS operatives to conduct a hostile act in the Western cities and on the Western interests and assets in other countries. Otherwise, the West might not be able to prevent any potential Iranian hostility conducted by the MOIS operatives.

In addition, the U.S., alongwith the international community, must make it clear to Iranian regime that if evidence of any MOIS activity is found in any country, actions would certainly be taken against the Iranian embassy in the host country, including expelling the Iranian ambassador from that country.

Syafruddin Arsyad is an independent researcher on the latest current affairs in the Middle East and their impacts on other regions of the world, including Southeast Asia.