August 13, 2021 | The Hill

Iranian intelligence plot reaches US soil — and should complicate negotiations

August 13, 2021 | The Hill

Iranian intelligence plot reaches US soil — and should complicate negotiations

Excerpt

In mid-July, the Department of Justice charged that the Islamic Republic of Iran directed four intelligence operatives to kidnap Masih Alinejad, an Iranian-American journalist, from her home in Brooklyn, N.Y. The alleged plot against the Voice of America reporter is the most audacious on American soil since Iran sought to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States in 2011 at a restaurant two miles from the White House.

The Biden administration has downplayed the kidnapping plot, lest it disrupt nuclear negotiations in Vienna. Rather than denouncing the alleged plot as an act of terror directed at a U.S. citizen, administration officials have presented it as a regrettable attempt to curtail free expression and silence journalists. The administration risks signaling to Iran that it can act with impunity throughout the world — including in the United States — if it fails to respond appropriately.

Indeed, the reported plot against Alinejad underscores how far the clerical regime in Tehran is willing to go to advance its revolutionary mission. But operating an intelligence cell on foreign soil is not the only way the Islamic Republic has sought to conduct terrorist attacks abroad. Even Iran’s diplomats plot and execute acts of terror around the world. Unchecked, both manifestations of the same terrorist threat only grow bolder. The administration need not look further than Vienna, the very city where the nuclear talks have been taking place, for proof.

Toby Dershowitz is senior vice president for government relations and strategy at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where Dylan Gresik is a government relations analyst. Follow Toby and Dylan on Twitter @tobydersh and @DylanGresik. FDD is a nonpartisan research institute focusing on foreign policy and national security.

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Issues:

Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran Human Rights Iran Nuclear Iran-backed Terrorism