Majid Azizi, an alleged member of Iran's Quds Force in the custody of Peruvian police. March 2024

Iran's Terror Plot In Peru Signals 'Lack Of Deterrence'

Saturday, 03/09/2024

Peruvian officials say an Iranian man arrested for planning to kill an Israeli citizen is a member of IRGC's Quds Force, signaling Tehran's terror activities in the Western hemisphere.

Ever since Hamas’ rampage of Israel on 7 October and the ensuing Israeli onslaught on Gaza, Iran has intensified its indirect campaign against American and Israeli interests, utilizing armed groups that it funds, equips, and trains across the Middle East.

But to attempt an assassination in Peru, in South America, suggests a different level of brazenness on Iran’s part and an almost complete absence of US deterrence.

Majid Azizi was arrested earlier this week for allegedly plotting with a Peruvian national to attack an Israeli citizen at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), scheduled to be held later this year in Peru. A third individual is reportedly on the run, according to a police statement.

"We had to act quickly because today [Majid Azizi] 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, Peru's police chief Oscar Arriola said.

Azizi, 56, holds Peruvian citizenship by marriage and has had regular trips to the country for many years, the last of which was in ‘early March’, allegedly to set up the assassination plan and leave. He is now under investigation for “terrorism against the state,” according to Peru’s ministry of interior.

Peruvian authorities have identified the Israeli citizen who was to be targeted but have not revealed their identity for security reasons.

This is the second time in the last decade that Iran has attempted an attack on Israelis in Peru. In 2014, a Hezbollah operative called Mohammed Amadar was arrested in Lima on suspicion of plotting against Israeli and Jewish targets. Later, the police found explosives and detonators in the Lebanese residence.

This time, however, the alleged plotter is not Lebanese but Iranian. And the authorities in Peru say he is a member of IRGC’s Quds Force. If true, the arrest could mark a significant moment as there’s no proxy ‘cover’ to help deny culpability for the regime in Tehran.

The revelation may not be significant enough to sway those who oppose the designation of IRGC as a terrorist organization in many European and other democratic countries. It may weaken their opposition, however, especially if more information emerges and the Quds Force connection is proven beyond doubt.

The Quds Force, the overseas arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, is widely believed to be behind most attacks against the United States and its allies across the Middle East, from Hezbollah in Lebanon to the Houthis in Yemen and an array of armed groups in Iraq and Syria –all visibly emboldened in the past few years, and since October 7th, in particular.

Critics of President Joe Biden lay this issue squarely at his door. Biden and his team, they say, have eroded deterrence by their unwillingness to confront Iran and impose “costs” on the regime for all the ‘malign activities’ in the region that they admit comes out of Tehran.

“It is indisputable that Tehran controls its proxies, and those proxies have killed Americans,” Senator Roger Wicker (R-MISS) said in a Senate Armed Service Committee hearing Friday. “Iran's objective is and has always been to evict the United States from the Middle East so it can achieve regional hegemony.”

The hearing, titled Posture of US Central Command and US Africa Command in Review of the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2025 and the Future Years, saw many senators denouncing the Biden administration for its Iran policy.

“President Biden ordered minor counter strikes on Iran's proxies in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen,” Wicker continued. “This approach has failed and will fail because it assumes that we can deter terrorist groups without causing pain to their chief sponsor, Iran.”

A key witness at the hearing was General Michael Kurilla, Commander of the US Central Command, who refrained from any criticism of the administration while offering a clear picture of the situation with Iran.

“Iran is undeterred in support to the Houthi,” he said, “they are undeterred in their support to Hezbollah, their support to Hamas, the support into the West Bank. They are deterred right now in Iraq and Syria and their support to the Iranian aligned militia groups, but not in terms of attacks, but not necessarily in terms of their funding and equipping.”

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