Pouria Zeraati, the television host of the "Last Word" program on Iran International, at hospital following a knife attack in London (March 30, 2024)

Stabbing Of Journalist Raises Questions Of West's Iran Policy

Saturday, 03/30/2024

The stabbing of an exiled Iranian TV presenter in London has renewed calls for action to confront and deter the regime in Tehran from expanding its malign activities.

Pouria Zeraati, a journalist and host at the UK-based Iran International, was attacked outside his home in Wimbledon Friday afternoon, reportedly by a few men who fled in a car after knifing him.

It is still unclear who the attackers were and what their motive was. But fingers were pointed at the Iranian regime almost immediately after the news broke, given the Islamic Republic’s track record in plotting against dissidents –and even foreign officials.

“The long arms of the brutal Iranian regime,” commented Hannah Neumann, a Green member of the European parliament. “We all need to urgently do our homework to protect those who seek refuge here from transnational threats and violence.

This is not the first time the Iranian regime seeks to harm Iran International journalists. An ITV investigation last year revealed that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) had commissioned a hitman to assassinate the hosts of two flagship shows on Iran International TV. The plot unraveled because the hitman turned out to be an agent of a ‘western intelligence agency’.

This time they got much closer, stabbing and injuring another Iran International journalist.

“Thankfully his condition is not believed to be life-threatening and he is in a stable condition,” London Metropolitan police announced in a statement. “However, due to the victim’s occupation…coupled with the fact that there has been a number of threats directed towards this group of journalists in recent times, the incident is being investigated by specialist officers from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command.”

According to the police, since 2022, a number of plots to kidnap or kill UK-based individuals perceived as enemies of the Iranian regime have been disrupted.

British MP and Chair of Foreign Affairs Committee Alicia Kearns said, "Iran continues to hunt down those brave enough to speak out against the regime. Yet I remain unconvinced that we and our allies have clear strategies to protect people in our countries from them, and protect our interests abroad."

Critics like Kearns believe inaction or confusion in dealing with Iran’s threats has emboldened the Iranian regime to attempt to silence dissidents anywhere in the world with almost absolute impunity.

“The Islamic Republic feels safe in attacking journalists like Pouria Zeraati because it knows that it won’t face any consequences,” wrote Alireza Nader, an expert on Iran and US policy. “The Biden admin has no Iran policy, just a vague hope that it can return to “diplomacy” with the regime. And Europe follows Biden’s lead. How many more people will be knifed before @POTUS changes his policy?”

In February 2023, Iran International was forced to temporarily shut down operations in London and move to Washington, as threats against the organization and its employees were deemed too dangerous and imminent.

Not long before the incident, Iran's minister of intelligence had called Iran International a terrorist organization, laying the grounds for all sorts of action against the broadcaster and its journalists.

“I appreciate the wider concern this incident may cause,” said Commander Dominic Murphy, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism, “particularly amongst others in similar lines of work, and those from Iranian communities. We continue to work closely with the victim’s organization.”

“This is a wakeup call for US and European officials,” Karim Sadjadpoor of Carnegie Endowment for Peace said on X. “Iran is actively trying to kill reporters and activists in the West and nearly succeeded in the middle of London.”

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