A “preposterous-sounding plot weaving together a former used-car salesman, Mexico’s Zetas drug gang and a bank transfer from a Revolutionary Guard account to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador — by bombing a Washington restaurant?”
To some it reads like a Dan Gordon thriller; but according to Time Magazine, this is exactly what the infamous Quds Force of the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. has been up to.
While the MOIS, the domestic part of Iranian intelligence is partially successful in uncovering internal plots; the Qud’s external success rate hovers near zero percent. The only attack known to be successful was via its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, who blew up a Bulgarian bus carrying Israeli tourists. The Quds Force is intent on attacking Israelis and Americans in emerging countries, whose own security forces are considered to not be as sophisticated as the Mossad nor the CIA. Allegedly, the Mossad is thought to be responsible for the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists, in order to prevent an expansion of Iran’s nuclear program.
Immediately after disembarking from a plane in Nairobi, and placing a call to a Kenyan known as a contact for the Somalian terrorist group Al Shabaab, two middle-aged Quds operatives were put under surveillance and eight days later arrested for hiding 15kg of the military explosive RDX under bushes that bordered a Mombasa golf course.
Providing mostly embarrassment, Iran’s secret agents were photographed in Pattaya, Thailand, with one arm around a hookah, the other around a hooker. Additionally, Quds operatives did succeed in blowing up their safe house as well as themselves while in Bangkok.
Other incidences Azerbaijan have caused the arrest of Iranian spies. A century ago the famous spy, Sidney Reilly, knew that Baku was a hot bed of espionage activity. In some ways little has changed in the country which is just north of Afghanistan, and supplies 30% of Israel’s oil. Here the shadow war between the Mossad and the Quds Forces continues to play out. Last month Azerbaijan submitted a formal protest to Tehran that Iranian agents had plotted to kill Israel’s ambassador in Baku along with a rabbi. Apparently, the Iranians are also losing this one.
Members of the Quds Forces’ elite Unit 400 have been activated inside Turkey to attack U.S. and Israeli interests and to support the Kurdish separatist movement PKK with violence as needed.
According to the Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman, an Iranian spy was arrested while collaborating with the Kurdish separatists. He confessed to being an Iranian operative with the Revolutionary Guards. Recently, the same paper revealed that nine spies have been arrested in Turkey, two of them were Iranian nationals. They provided information on Iranian contacts with the PKK fighters and their mission in identifying strategic targets within Turkey. It is in Iran’s interest to destabilize Turkey ever since they called for the ouster of Syrian leadership, one of the few governments that Iran considers an ally.
Not a great record for an intelligence agency. Either that or they don’t know one of the responsibilities of an intelligence agent is to not get caught.