The threat is real

But the goal is not to target Americans of Iranian descent .

By SHERIDAN A. BAHAR
October 10, 2019 03:32
3 minute read.
The threat is real

Abbas Araqchi, Iranian deputy foreign minister for political affairs (R), Behrouz Kamalvandi, Iran's Atomic Energy Organization spokesman (L) and Iran's government spokesman Ali Rabiei attend a news conferenece in Tehran, Iran July 7, 2019. (photo credit: TASNIM NEWS AGENCY/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

In 1994, an Iranian suicide bomber drove a van loaded with explosives into the AMIA Jewish Center in Buenos Aires, murdering 90 people. Two decades later, the Iranian threat remains acute. US government officials are warning Jewish institutions across the US to be vigilant of possible terrorist attacks by Iran and its proxy Hezbollah. We need to do more to be safe in our US cities.

Iranian agents are a growing threat to national security. Just this past spring, the Manhattan Federal Court convicted Ali Kourani, a man from the Bronx, in connection with attempted terrorist plots in New York City. In another case, it convicted a naturalized US citizen of Iranian descent who spent a year plotting a failed attack in Washington or New York City. It was also very alarming when Iran’s Foreign Ministry directly threatened an American think tank, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and its CEO, Mark Dubowitz. The United States ought not to take any Iranian threat lightly.

To strengthen the safety of the Jewish communities across the country, US intelligence officials must work closely with local and state officials to identify and detain suspected Iranian agents. The United States also needs to identify persons associated with Iran or one of its proxies. In an important first step, the Trump administration designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist entity. This move was overdue as the IRGC’s primary goal is to support and fund terrorism worldwide.

We must stay vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the authorities. In doing so, the federal government must be in cooperation with local authorities. The US is limited in its surveillance of US persons, including US permanent residents. However, US officials must identify US citizens who have continuous contact through constant phone calls or travel to Iran. The US must also execute a law to require any naturalized US citizen of Iranian descent to renounce Iranian nationality. This policy would further enable US officials to identify those with allegiance to the Islamic republic.

The goal is not to target Americans of Iranian descent. The US is home to almost a million Iranian Americans who make a significant contribution to American society. The goal is to raise awareness that Iranian agents are well among us, and we need to identify them. Last month, a dual Iranian American citizen was arrested in San Diego, California, for monitoring Jewish centers and American Persian centers around the country. Tehran is increasing its operatives’ dispatch to the US. There are more and more Iranian agents in our country with goals to spy on Israeli, Jewish and Persian communities nation-wide. We are no longer safe in our country if we ignore them.

The events that happened in Argentina should never happen on American soil. US officials must continue working hard at identifying and prosecuting any persons associated with Iran or its proxies like Hezbollah. Jewish and Persian institutions must remain alert and report any suspicious activity to authorities. Local authorities must work closely with federal officials in reporting and identifying any suspicious events or persons. US authorities must execute a policy that requires naturalized US citizens of Iran to renounce their Iranian citizenship. They should monitor US persons with constant trips or connections to Iran. Taken together, these actions will keep our country safe from the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The writer is in master’s level security policy and transnational security studies with research, analytical and intelligence experience. He maintains knowledge of various hate groups domestically and internationally and is fluent in Farsi, Dari, English and Hebrew.


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