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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 15 November 2018

Denmark thwarts Iranian assassination plot

Tehran is accused of a plot to kill an Iranian opposition activist

Police vehicles block the street leading to the Oeresund Bridge near Copenhagen, Denmark, 28 September 2018. EPA
Police vehicles block the street leading to the Oeresund Bridge near Copenhagen, Denmark, 28 September 2018. EPA

Denmark has revealed an Iranian plot to assassinate an opponent of Tehran last month, shortly after a massive bomb attack killed 25 people in Iran’s city of Ahvaz.

Police shut down the capital Copenhagen, thwarting the plot by Iranian intelligence to assassinate the opposition figure, the Danish security chief said yesterday.

Finn Borch Andersen, head of the Danish intelligence agency Pet, said a huge manhunt last month had been part of a multinational effort to stop the Iranian intelligence operation.

Mr Borch Andersen said one suspect, a Norwegian national of Iranian descent, was arrested on October 21.

“He is charged with establishing an Iranian intelligence operation in Denmark, as well as having taken part in the assassination attempt,” he said.

“We are dealing with an Iranian intelligence agency planning an attack on Danish soil. Obviously, we can’t and won’t accept that.”

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Copenhagen ground to a halt for the manhunt on September 28 after a car was seen near the residences of Iranian opposition activists.

Two of the country’s largest bridges were shut, temporarily leaving the capital cut off from the rest of the country. The borders with Germany and Sweden were also sealed.

Mr Borch Andersen said the unidentified suspect was being held under pre-trial detention until November 8, and had denied any wrongdoing.

He said the suspect had been seen taking photographs of an area populated by members of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz in Ringsted, about 65 kilometres south of Copenhagen.

Tehran claimed the group was behind an attack on a military parade in the city of Ahvaz on September 22, in which 25 people were killed. The group denied involvement.

After the attack, Tehran accused Denmark of harbouring members of the “terror group”.

Denmark’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Anders Samuelsen described the incident as “completely unacceptable” and said the Iranian ambassador had been summoned.

“In fact, the gravity of the matter is difficult to describe,” Mr Samuelsen said.

“That has been made crystal clear to the Iranian ambassador in Copenhagen today.”

Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said “further action against Iran will be discussed in the EU”.

The announcement came a month after French authorities claimed Tehran’s intelligence services were behind a plot to bomb a rally of Iranian opposition groups in Paris in June.

In that incident, two Belgians of Iranian descent arrested by Belgian police carrying half of kilogram of explosives and a detonator.

German police also arrested an Iranian diplomat based in Austria as part of the plot.

France’s intelligence agency concluded that Iran’s deputy minister and director general of intelligence, Saeid Hashemi Moghadam, had ordered the attack.