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Assassination attempts: Iran threatens, targets dissidents on American soil

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Assassination attempts: Iran threatens, targets dissidents on American soil


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Members of the National Council of Resistance of Iran exclusively told Fox News Digital of the lengths the current regime in Tehran will go to try to kill them, even on American soil.

“Since the start of the uprisings in Iran in 2017, Tehran stepped up its terror plots abroad, particularly against our movement because of the increase in its appeal among the protesters,” said Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of the US Office of the National Council or Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

“Tehran saw the MEK as an engine for change in Iran and found the NCRI network abroad as the key to building pressure against the regime.”

The Justice Department on Aug. 10 announced charges against Iranian operative Shahram Poursafi, a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, for an alleged plot to assassinate John Bolton, who served as former President Trump’s national security adviser until 2019. New details showed operatives also allegedly targeted former State Secretary Mike Pompeo.

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Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani attends Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s meeting with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in Tehran, Iran, Sept. 18, 2016.
(Pool/Press Office of Iranian Supreme Leader/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

US officials said the plot was likely planned in retaliation for the January 2020 strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, the leader of the terror listed Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Qud’s force, but members of the NCRI and the People’s Mojahedin Organization (MEK) told Fox News Digital about attempts on their lives that go back years.

Jafarzadeh found out he was a prime target for the regime after seeing reports in the media of a criminal complaint and affidavit related to the assassination attempt on Trump and Bolton and seeing his own name among possible targets in the affidavit.

“I was already alert about the potential terror threats from the Iranian regime because, only a month before, a bomb-carrying diplomat of the Iranian regime had been arrested, and we knew that Tehran does not usually operate only on a single target, and thus it was expected that it would plan terror operations in the United States as well,” he explained.

People demonstrate while holding photos of Maryam Rajavi, leader of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, during the trial of four people, including an Iranian diplomat and Belgian-Iranian couple at the courthouse in Antwerp, Belgium, Feb.  4, 2021.

People demonstrate while holding photos of Maryam Rajavi, leader of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, during the trial of four people, including an Iranian diplomat and Belgian-Iranian couple at the courthouse in Antwerp, Belgium, Feb. 4, 2021.
(AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

He pointed to three failed attempts in 2018 alone to try and hit MEK targets, including an attempt to bomb the MEK headquarters in Albania and an attempt in July that year to hit a gathering in Paris, after which French authorities arrested an Iranian diplomat.

Iran’s reach extends to agents operating covertly in the US who maintain “a benign cover” to hide their connection to Tehran, according to Jafarzadeh. He claimed that there are many agents of the Iranian regime who use Iranian-American cover or operate in think tanks or academic institutions.

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Ali Safavi, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Paris-based NCRI, argues that the attempts against the counter-regime groups validates them as it proves the regime views them as “existential threats.”

“The misguided policy of mollifying the medieval theocracy and closing one’s eyes on the mullahs’ egregious conduct at home and abroad has created a culture of impunity that has only emboldened them to spread their terrorism beyond Iran’s borders,” Safavi told Fox News Digital. He also discovered he was a target when the affidavit against the Iranian operatives went public.

“I had seen one of [the assassins], the waiter in Orange County,” he revealed. “The restaurant he worked at was a popular outfit and frequented by all Iranians. I was in the city in 2015 and went to the restaurant a couple of times. And, on both occasions, he was our waiter and quite attentive to us. Little did we know that he was, in fact, trying to eavesdrop on what we were discussing.”

The would-be assassin also requested a photo with Safavi when the two bumped into each other at a protest outside the United Nations headquarters in New York City in 2017.

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Both men believe that the revelation of repeated and ongoing attempts against former US officials and Iranian dissidents should prove enough for the Biden administration to end negotiations for a nuclear deal and the potential release of millions of much-needed funds for an economically starved nation that continues to fund terror proxy groups in neighboring countries.

“A leopard never changes spots,” Safavi said. “Consistent with the Democratic Party’s policy platform, human rights must be front and center in any policy, vis-à-vis the Iranian regime. The only viable and effective policy in dealing with Tehran’s brutality at home and its spread of terrorism abroad is to toughen and expand the sanctions to deny the regime the resources with which it sustains its machinery of suppression and war.”

Iran's President-elect Ebrahim Raisi speaks during a press conference in Tehran, Iran.

Iran’s President-elect Ebrahim Raisi speaks during a press conference in Tehran, Iran.
(AP Photo)

Critics have also used the revelation of assassination attempts against US officials to argue that the Biden administration should deny President Ebrahim Raisi a visa, which he would be required to have to attend the UN General Assembly in September.

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“The Biden administration has publicly acknowledged that the regime in Tehran is actively plotting to assassinate Americans,” Richard Goldberg, senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and former National Security Council official, told Fox News Digital.

“How can they issue visas to the people in charge of the plot? It would be fully consistent with US law and treaty obligations to deny Raisi and his delegation visas on national security grounds.”

Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

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