Iranian agents arrested in Kenya were 'looking for foreign targets'

Israel and Iran's Cold War spills over into East Africa

Nairobi

The cold war between Israel and Iran appears to have spilled into East Africa after two alleged Iranian agents arrested in Kenya on suspicion of plotting bomb attacks were claimed to have been targeting foreign interests, including the British High Commission.

Prior to their arrest on 19 June, the suspects had toured sites including the Israeli embassy in Nairobi and a golf course in the coastal city of Mombasa, as well as the British High Commission, according to Kenyan police sources.

Believed to be members of Iran's secretive al-Quds corps, Ahmad Abolfathi Mohammad and Sayed Mansour Mousavi subsequently led authorities to a cache of high explosives.

The two men have been charged with illegal possession of 15 kilograms of RDX, a chemical previously used in the 2006 Mumbai train bombings and 2010 Moscow metro attacks. They are due back in court in the Kenyan capital Nairobi later this month.

The plot, if confirmed, would be "par for the course (in the) killing games" that the two countries have been engaged in across the wider region, said Anthony Cordesman, a Middle East expert at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

The al-Quds corps is the part of Iran's Revolutionary Guard which has been tasked with carrying out attacks against Israel in reprisal for what Tehran claims is an assassination campaign against its nuclear scientists. The unit has "no clean, clear set of instructions", said Mr Cordesman, and its operatives often launch freelance operations without orders from Tehran.

Security sources in Nairobi linked the Iranians' presence to operations by Somali militants al-Shabaab, who are blamed for a campaign of grenade attacks following Kenya's military incursion into neighbouring Somalia last October. Al-Shabaab has threatened to hit major targets in Kenya including Nairobi "skyscrapers".

Investigators believe that the Iranian-imported chemicals could have been broken up into smaller batches and then used in a series of attacks that would not necessarily have been blamed on Iran.

Complicating Nairobi's response is the fact that the arrests come as Kenya is finalising a controversial purchase of crude oil from Iran, a move that risks violating international sanctions in response to allegations that Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Nairobi has signed a memorandum of understanding to purchase 4m tonnes of crude oil from Iran despite US moves to strengthen sanctions and the EU's approval of an embargo on Iranian oil.

Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said Iran was "the greatest exporter of terror" after the arrests.

Israel and Iran have been accused of playing proxy war in the two Sudans after Tehran sought closer links with northern Sudan's regime, while Israel has begun arms sales to South Sudan.

News
i100
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsAll just to promote a new casino
News
i100
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
News
i100
Sport
Tom Cleverley
footballLoan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
Boris Johnson may be manoeuvring to succeed David Cameron
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer SQL, C#, Stored Procedures, MDX...

Front-Office Developer (C#, .NET, Java, AI)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-Office D...

C#.NET Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, WPF, WCF, ASP.NET, Prism...

Creche Assistant or Nursery Nurse

£8 per hour: Randstad Education Leeds: The Job Creche Assistant to start asap ...

Day In a Page

Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

Stolen youth

Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

Made by Versace, designed by her children

Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Anyone for pulled chicken?

Pulling chicks

Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband