Peru arrests 2, including Quds Force operative, for alleged plot to attack Israeli

Peruvian chief of police says Iranian suspect was tasked with ‘forming a terrorist cell to wipe out an Israeli national’ during APEC forum

Officers escort Iranian Majid Azizi at police headquarters in Lima, Peru, March 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Manuel Castillo)
Officers escort Iranian Majid Azizi at police headquarters in Lima, Peru, March 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Manuel Castillo)

LIMA, Peru — Peruvian police on Friday said they had captured an Iranian and a Peruvian national who allegedly were planning an attack on an Israeli person at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), scheduled to be held later this year in the Andean nation.

Peru’s chief of police, Oscar Arriola, told a press conference the arrests were made after an investigation in coordination with international intelligence agencies, which provided “sensitive” information about an Iranian citizen who arrived in Peru at the beginning of March.

“We had to act quickly because today (the Iranian) was set to return to Iran after forming a terrorist cell to wipe out an Israeli national” who was going to participate in the APEC event, Arriola said.

Both the Iranian, whom Arriola identified as 56-year-old Majid Azizi, and the Peruvian were arrested on Thursday, he said. Azizi also holds Peruvian nationality by marriage, Arriola said.

Police are still looking for a third Peruvian they think was in charge of killing the Israeli man, he said.

Arriola said that authorities had identified the Israeli who would have been targeted in the attack, though they were choosing not to release the person’s name due to security reasons.

According to Peru’s interior ministry, Azizi is a member of the Quds Force, the extraterritorial branch of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps that has been frequently linked to alleged Iranian plots to target Israelis overseas.

This is the first time Peruvian authorities have announced the arrest of an alleged member of that group. Iranian authorities did not comment, and Iranian state media did not acknowledge the arrest early Saturday.

Arriola said Azizi — who entered Lima on March 3 — was captured after withdrawing money from an ATM and, along with the two Peruvians arrested, will remain in prison for an initial 15 days under terrorism charges.

Israel considers Iran its greatest enemy, citing the Iranian government’s calls for Israel’s destruction and support for hostile militant groups. It also accuses Iran of trying to develop a nuclear bomb — a claim that Iran denies.

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