Iran Reportedly Attempted to Assassinate Dissident in Denmark

Iran tried to assassinate an Arab separatist leader living in Denmark, the Danish authorities claim, adding that a suspect in the “unusual and very serious” plot was in custody, The New York Times informed.

The accusations have set off anger and concern in Denmark, a nation that has experienced little political violence in recent years. Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen called the plot “totally unacceptable,” Copenhagen recalled its ambassador to Iran, and potential joint European action is on the agenda for a meeting of European Union foreign ministers on November 19.

“There is sufficient basis to conclude that an Iranian intelligence service has been planning the assassination,” the Danish Security and Intelligence Service said in a statement.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry denied the allegations, saying they “are in line with the conspiracies and plots of the enemies of Iran.”

“With the United States withdrawing from the nuclear agreement with Iran and resuming economic sanctions, Iran’s government should be trying to shore up relations with Europe, not worsen them,” said Alex Vatanka, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington.

“On paper this looks beyond reckless,” he said. “This atmosphere and lack of trust is not a good sign for the future critical dialogue with Iran.”

According to Vatanka, that one arm of Iran’s security apparatus attempted an assassination in Denmark without the knowledge or consent of President Hassan Rouhani and his government.

The target of the plot was the leader of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz, the Danish security agency said. The group, which the Iranian government classifies as terrorist, aims to create an independent state in Iran’s oil-rich province of Khuzestan, home to much of the country’s ethnic Arab minority.

Danish officials did not name the man; his group identified him as Habib Jabor, but that is an alias. He lives in Ringsted, a town southwest of Copenhagen, and has been under police protection since the spring because of a threat to his safety.

Meanwhile, Norway also summoned the Iranian ambassador in Oslo to protest the suspected assassination plot. A Norwegian citizen of Iranian background was arrested in Sweden on October 21 in connection with the plot and extradited to Denmark, Swedish police have said.

“We see the situation that has arisen in Denmark as very serious and that a Norwegian citizen of Iranian background is suspected in this case,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide said, Radio Free Liberty reported.

She said that during her meeting with Iranian Ambassador Mohammad Hassan Habibollah Zadeh, “we underlined that the activity that has come to light through the investigation in Denmark is unacceptable.”

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