Report: Israel tipped off UK about Iranian plan to attack local journalists

Information led to police alerting two reporters from regime-critical Iran International network that they were in danger, foiling plot, says Kan broadcaster

Illustrative: Armed British police officers stand guard, in London, January 7, 2021.  (Matt Dunham/AP/File)
Illustrative: Armed British police officers stand guard, in London, January 7, 2021. (Matt Dunham/AP/File)

Israel provided intelligence information to the British authorities that enabled them earlier this month to foil an Iranian plot to attack UK-based journalists, the Kan public broadcaster reported Monday.

The unsourced report said the information was about the threat facing two reporters from Iran International, a network based in London that is critical of the Tehran regime.

In a November 7 statement, the network said “two of our British-Iranian journalists have, in recent days, been notified of an increase in the threats to them. The Metropolitan Police have now formally notified both journalists that these threats represent an imminent, credible and significant risk to their lives and those of their families. Other members of our staff have also been informed directly by the Metropolitan Police of separate threats.”

It blamed the danger on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a powerful Iranian military organization that is also responsible for covert operations abroad.

Two days later, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly summoned Iran’s top-ranking diplomat in London, accusing Tehran of threatening the journalists.

Then last Saturday, armed vehicles were deployed outside the Iran International television studios in London.

There were around seven vehicles outside the studio in Chiswick Park, west London, after “severe and credible” threats were recently made against the two journalists, one of its spokesmen told AFP at the time.

Police confirmed that its officers “are working in response to potential threats projected from Iran against a number of UK-based individuals.”

“Whilst we will not be going into detail as to what these are, it does include the presence of overt armed police officers in the vicinity of the west London offices of a UK-based Persian language media company,” the force told AFP in a statement.

The channel, which has been airing recent protests in the Middle Eastern nation, has been proscribed as a “terrorist” organization by Iran, but can still be accessed via the Internet.

“The threats against us have escalated as the protests in Iran go on, because we cover them 24/7,” said the media outlet’s spokesman.

He said the presence of armored vehicles was a “massive deterrence” that had “reassured” staff.

“They’ve worked there for five years, they’re used to this. Their families get threatened in Iran,” he told AFP.

“Recently in Tehran, there have been wanted posters going up with some of our presenters’ faces on them.”

“But the mood is just getting on with it,” he said.

Britain’s domestic spy agency MI5 said last week that Iran wants to kidnap or kill UK-based individuals it deems “enemies of the regime,” with at least 10 such plots uncovered so far this year.

Director general Ken McCallum warned in a speech at the agency’s Thames House headquarters that Iran “projects threat to the UK directly, through its aggressive intelligence services”.

He said this could include “ambitions to kidnap or even kill British or UK-based individuals perceived as enemies of the regime.”

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