Monday, May 28, 2012
Iran, Hezbollah targeted Israeli, Saudi, U.S. diplomats
Diplomatic Circles Report
Officials from the U.S. and unnamed Middle Eastern countries believe a recent plot to kill Americans in Azerbajian was part of a larger effort by Iranian-linked operatives to kill foreign diplomats in at least seven countries over the past year, The Washington Post reported on Monday.
Among the targeted foreigners were two Saudi diplomats, about a half-dozen Israelis, and in Azerbajian, a group of Americans, the officials said according to The Washington Post.
The officials said new evidence uncovered in recent weeks by investigators working in four countries shows a connection between the different assassination attempts that ties all of them to Iranian supported Hezbollah terrorists or agents based in Iran.
The officials, and experts in the U.S. and Middle East, see the plots as part of an ongoing covert war in which Iran is trying to retaliate for a series of assassinations of its nuclear scientists. Iran has blamed the U.S. and Israel for the assassinations, but it has consistently denied any involvement in attempts to assassinate foreign envoys in other countries.
In October, the thwarted assassination of the Saudi ambassador in Washington involved a similar plot to hire criminal gangs to kill a senior envoy in public, U.S. intelligence officials noted.
"They were going after individuals," said a former U.S. State Department official who worked closely with the embassy in Baku. "They had names of employees. And they were interested in family members, too."