On Tuesday, July 13th, the US judiciary announced the indictment of four “Iranian intelligence agents” accused of preparing to kidnap an American journalist of Iranian origin in New York. Are these accusations credible? What are the means at the disposal of the Iranian apparatus to intervene abroad?
Did the Iranian apparatus try to kidnap an Iranian-American woman living in New York? On Tuesday, July 13th, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced an indictment of four people who had come forward as members of an Iranian intelligence cell. Their target was Masih Alinejad, a journalist and opponent of the Tehran regime. This Wednesday, the White House. categorically condemns This kidnapping attempt. A spokeswoman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry rejects these accusations and states: A baseless and absurd claim Three questions to Alain Rodier, director of research at the French Intelligence Research Center.
RFI: American justice talks about the attempted kidnapping of Masih Alinejad. It also mentioned other targets of this cell in other countries, citing the United Kingdom or the United Arab Emirates. The case of this journalist opposed to the Iranian regime recalls the case of Ruhola Zam, who is also a journalist and dissident, a political refugee in France. He was kidnapped in Iraq and executed last December. Is the Iranian regime chasing its opponents around the world?
Alan Rodier: Yes, but this has been the case since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The primary task of the Iranian services is to track down their opponents. And sometimes unfortunately filtered. I remind you of the case of Shapur Bakhtiar, who was assassinated on August 6, 1991 in France. There were of course many others. You mentioned the case of Ruhula Zam who fell into the trap. He voluntarily went to Baghdad, where he was kidnapped by Iranian forces: it is much easier to cross into Iran than from Iraq.
So one of the primary tasks of Iranian intelligence is to deal with their opposition abroad. But you also pointed out that this four-person team was also preparing actions in other countries. I think that’s a lot of tasks for a few people.
You mentioned Shapur Bakhtiar. He was not the only Iranian opponent who was assassinated in Europe in the 1990s, and today we are talking more about kidnappings of opponents. Has the work style changed?
The Iranians realized that killing dissidents on foreign soil was counterproductive and that it was better for the regime to send them back to Iran. Having said that, if I have the slightest bit of doubt at the moment regarding this issue, it is that Washington is trying by all means to demonize Tehran. Especially their intelligence services, as these agencies view the rapprochement with Tehran very badly through the negotiations on the nuclear file.
The case is real: the four individuals have been identified and an Iranian national residing in California has been arrested. But from the very realistic and tangible elements, I have the impression that we are inventing a bit of an anecdote that aims to demonize Tehran a bit more.
What means are available to the intelligence services to gain access to dissidents living in Europe or in countries that are not among its allies?
They have the Ministry of Intelligence and the services of that ministry. Like any intelligence service, they work through diplomatic representation: semi-official agents in countries. But when there really is an operation to be carried out, it is the intelligence services that rely on the Revolutionary Guards that operate. They have the ability to act, but this perceived type of operation is very complex.