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Time to Identify Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security as Foreign Terrorist Organization

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

The Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) has a long history of involvement in terrorist attacks. Historically its role has been to support the Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps (IGRC) and Qods Force by conducting target analysis, information collection, and battle damage assessments following attacks. This service was extended to the Badr Corps and the Mahdi Army in Iraq, to assist in attacking American military forces operating there.


Recently, the MOIS has become much more aggressive. This summer, two cells of the MOIS were arrested by law enforcement authorities. The first was an activated sleeper cell from Germany, apprehended by Belgium police as they were traveling to Paris to detonate an explosive device at the “Free Iran 2018” rally. The second cell was arrested in the United States for conducting surveillance operations at public events of Iranian dissidents, Israeli government facilities, and synagogues.

The Paris rally was attended by numerous American citizens, including former senior government officials and retired military officers. This terrorist cell was working under the direction of Assadollah Assadi, MOIS’ Chief at the Iranian Embassy in Austria. He was captured in Germany after providing the would-be attackers with explosive material and a detonation device. The use of the very deadly triacetone triperoxide (TATP) in this device proves the MOIS was intent on causing massive deaths and injuries.

Whether American participants at this rally were the primary targets is irrelevant. The bottom line is that the sleeper cell was dispatched by the MOIS. This attack required authorization of the highest levels of the Iranian government. [It is obvious the regime felt comfortable in believing western governments were going to do little or nothing in response to an attack on this rally, despite the large contingency of international participants]. Why is this obvious? Didn’t European governments do something?


Monitoring Iranian dissidents in the United States for “capture or kill operations” as the DOJ complaint against two Iranian agents arrested in the US states, can be classified as intelligence gathering. MOIS’ surveillance operations of Israeli facilities and synagogues in the U.S. points to one intention: preparation for future attacks. From its beginning in 1979, the Iranian regime has dedicated itself to the destruction of Israel. The regime remains determined to attack Jewish people, especially in their places of worship.

Whether the forum is a rally or a religious service, the right to peaceful assembly is an expectation of all citizens living in open democracies. Peaceful assemblies are exactly what Iran is intent on disrupting. Iran is not a democracy, much less an open one. It wishes to disrupt political and religious gatherings throughout Europe and the United States.

A Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) is defined by three standards: (1) be foreign, (2) have the intent to kill American citizens whether on domestic or foreign soil, and (3) have the means to do so. MOIS has clearly proven itself to have achieved all three standards.

European and American law enforcement agencies were able to prevent the MOIS from executing its terrorist missions this summer. However, these were not the only sleeper cells out there. Other cells, when activated, will have learned from the mistakes that resulted in the compromises and subsequent arrests of previous cells.


The U.S. government has long identified Iran as the number one exporter of terrorism. The State Department has already classified the Qods Force as an FTO. The United States needs to apply the same designation to the MOIS before it strikes again.

Terrorists only have to succeed once while defenders have to succeed every minute of every day. The restrictions and focus placed on an FTO will greatly enhance our law enforcement community’s ability to defend all Americans from future MOIS attacks.

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