Benjamin Weinthal, The Jerusalem Post
Iran’s intelligence agency allegedly planned terrorist attacks against organizations and representatives engaged in pro-Israel work in Germany, according to German media reports citing the country’s federal prosecutor released on Friday.
Syed Mustafa H., a 31-year-old Pakistani who worked for the German Aerospace Center in Bremen, was indicted on Monday for alleged espionage.
West German Broadcasting (WDR) reported Iran’s intelligence agency’s goal was to assassinate the former president of the German-Israel friendship society, Reinhold Robbe. From 1994 to 2005, Robbe served as a Social Democratic Party deputy in the Bundestag. He later served as the parliamentary commissioner for the armed forces in the Bundestag.
Iran’s targeting of a German politician is the first reported case of an Iranian intelligence operation working to assassinate a government representative in the Federal Republic. Journalist Georg Heil, who wrote the WDR article, reported that Mustafa also spied on a French-Israeli professor at a business college in Paris.
The professor and the college in Paris were not identified in the report.
The WDR reported that a second Pakistani suspect was arrested but was later released due to insufficient evidence. The suspect scrubbed his entire computer server of possibly incriminating information and departed the Federal Republic after his detainment.
According to the Berlin-based Tagesspiegel newspaper, Mustafa was likely working for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. Mustafa studied engineering at Bremerhaven College and provided PowerPoint presentations to Iran’s intelligence agency. WDR said Mustafa communicated inaccurate information about Robbe.
Iran’s regime paid Mustafa for the information he secured, according to the indictment. He drafted a “movement profile” of Robbe and surveyed the society headquarters in Berlin. According to German authorities, Mustafa’s activity was “a clear indication of an assassination attempt.”
Mustafa also followed Robbe during his commute on public transportation from his private residence to his office.
The indictment states Mustafa had been in contact with a person from Iran’s intelligence agency responsible for espionage in Europe since 2011. German media said Mustafa’s espionage activity was part of a larger Iranian operation to target pro-Israel groups in France, Germany and other European countries.
According to WDR, the motive for the attack – based on one security theory – is Iran’s desire to retaliate against Israeli advocates in Europe in the event that Israel launched air strikes to knock out Tehran’s nuclear facilities.
Mustufa is suspected of intelligence activity from July 2015 to July 2016 on behalf of Iran’s regime.
In July, a Berlin court convicted an Iranian man of espionage on behalf of Iran’s regime. The 32-year-old man was sentenced to nearly two-and-a-half years in prison for spying on Iranian dissidents in Germany. The Jerusalem Post’s review of German intelligence reports showed Iran ratcheted up its spy network in the Federal Republic in 2015. Iran has a vast espionage infrastructure in the country which coordinates with its embassy in Berlin.
Benjamin Weinthal reports on human rights in the Middle East and is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @BenWeinthal