ATbar Iranian terrorist activity in Africa: the Swedish connection

Iranian terrorist activity in Africa: the Swedish connection

01/03/2021 | by Karmon, Ely (Dr.)  

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On February 4, 2021 it was reported that Ethiopia has arrested 15 people over a plot to attack the United Arab Emirates’ embassy in Addis Ababa. Some of the 15 suspects arrested had been spotted near the UAE embassy. Ethiopia’s state news agency EPA reported, citing the state’s intelligence service, that the group was working at the direction of foreigners. The group was linked to Iran after their ringleader, Swedish resident Ahmed Ismail, was arrested in Sweden.

Israel says that only three of the 15 arrested may be “real Iranian operatives”, while the rest are members of an Ethiopian network. An unspecified amount of arms, explosives and documents were seized during the operation. The group took the mission from a foreign terrorist group and was preparing to inflict significant damage on properties and human lives. The Ethiopian authorities had been monitoring the activities of these groups since November 2020 in collaboration with several foreign intelligence services in Europe, Asia, and Africa.[1]

A second group of suspects was planning to attack the UAE’s diplomatic mission in neighboring Sudan. Ethiopia’s National Intelligence Security Service was working with its Sudanese counterparts on that aspect of the plot, which was confirmed by a Sudanese official.

Recent intelligence released by Israel and the United States, originally reported by The New York Times, claims that Iran was behind the recent plot to attack the UAE’s embassy in Ethiopia to avenge the killings of Qassem Soleimani and Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. In addition, the report suggested that Iran had also activated “sleeper cells” in Addis Ababa in late 2020 to gain more intelligence on American and Israeli embassies. Rear Admiral Heidi K. Berg, the director of intelligence at the Pentagon’s Africa Command, confirmed that Sweden and Ethiopia had “collaborated on the disruption to the plot”. Sofia Hellqvist, spokeswoman for the Swedish police authority, did not answer questions about the arrest but instead referred to the authorities in Ethiopia.[2]

Iran, however, has denied the NYT report.

[1]  Reuters Staff, “Ethiopia says it foiled attack on UAE embassy in Addis Ababa,” Reuters, February 4, 2021.

[2] Statecraft Staff, “Intelligence Reports Reveal Iranian Ploy to Attack UAE Embassy in Ethiopia,” Statecraft, World News Monitor: 16 February, 2021,

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