May 30, 2024 | Flash Brief

Israel, Sweden: Iran Using Criminal Gangs for European Terror

May 30, 2024 | Flash Brief

Israel, Sweden: Iran Using Criminal Gangs for European Terror

Latest Developments

Iran is using criminal networks as terrorist proxies in Europe, Israel and Sweden warned on May 30. Jerusalem disclosed that an investigation involving the Mossad, the Shin Bet, and their European intelligence counterparts into an attempted bombing of the Israeli embassy in Stockholm in January had linked a Swedish criminal gang, known as Foxtrot, to handlers in Tehran.

Foxtrot boss Rawa Majid — a Swede of Kurdish descent on the wanted list of the international law enforcement agency Interpol — was found to have been in Iran’s employ for several months, with orders to organize attacks mainly on Israeli and Jewish targets throughout Europe. Those attacks would have required collaboration between Foxtrot and counterpart criminal organization in the target countries, Israeli officials said.

A May 17 shooting attack near the Israeli embassy in Stockholm led to the arrest of several suspects, some of them of Iranian descent, and the discovery that they were linked to the criminal gang known as Rumba, whose boss, Ismail Abdo, is a rival of Majid. Abdo, who is also on Interpol’s wanted list, is presently on bail in Turkey after he was arrested by police in the province of Adana on May 28.

Separately, Majid, who is reportedly a Turkish citizen, was arrested by the Turkish authorities in 2022 on charges of drug trafficking and attempted murder, but was released a few weeks later after Ankara rejected an extradition request from Sweden. Members of both the Foxtrot and Rumba gangs have found refuge in Turkey.

Briefing reporters, the Swedish security service SAPO said it had evidence of Tehran using criminal networks in the country to carry out attacks against Iranian dissidents and exiles, as well as Israeli and Jewish interests.

Expert Analysis

“In the name of its theocratic revolution, the Islamic Republic in Iran has mounted all manner of outrages on European soil — and not recoiled at using the most unsavory of executioners to do so. The conjunction of crime and terror, witnessed in full bloom with Hezbollah in Lebanon, must not be allowed to continue to threaten the West.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“The regime in Tehran capitalizes on every opportunity to propagate antisemitism globally. The anti-Israel fervor ignited by the horrific October 7 terrorist attacks has furthered the regime’s hateful and racist agenda across Middle East and Europe. Under the guise of anti-Zionism, the Islamic Republic disseminates antisemitism and makes concrete plans to harm Jews, regardless of where they live in the world. As we approach the upcoming elections in Europe, the next EU parliament ought to meaningfully counter the Islamic Republic’s growing malign influence across the continent, including by designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.” — Janatan Sayeh, FDD Research Analyst

“As the Paris Olympics loom, European authorities will be working especially hard to preserve safety in what is meant to be the ultimate international goodwill event. Israel’s delegation will no doubt be expected to sequester themselves for the sake of security. But it would be mistake to see the problem as one affecting Israel only. A disrupted Olympics will only whet Tehran’s appetite to sow mischief abroad as a distraction from its malign regional actions.” —  Ben CohenFDD Senior Analyst and Rapid Response Manager

Maryland Court Issues Restraining Order Against U.S.-Based Iranian Diplomat,” FDD Flash Brief

DOJ Reveals New Iran-backed Assassination Attempt on Iranian American Journalist,” FDD Flash Brief

Iran Targets Salman Rushdie,” FDD Flash Brief


Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Israel Israel at War