Iranian agents arrested in Kenya were 'looking for foreign targets'
Israel and Iran's Cold War spills over into East Africa
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.
Arsenal 1 Everton 1: Substitute equalises with six minutes to go
food + drinkMichelin-starred Tom Sellers on being this year's hottest property
booksGeese, gorillas, grandads... and growing up
tvParents (and kids) rejoice! A new wave of fantastic family entertainment is here
food + drinkHow one grocery e-tailer is gearing up for the Yuletide rush
food + drink
Nelson Mandela: 11 inspirational quotes to live your life by
Queen to miss Nelson Mandela funeral over security and long-haul flight concerns
'Never a good time to increase MPs' pay': Jack Straw defends politicians' 11% pay rise in face of public outrage
10 stone five-year-old taken into care
Japan cracks down on leaks after scandal of Fukushima nuclear power plant
- 1 Hundreds arrested as Canadian police smash worldwide paedophile ring
- 2 Sherlock series 3: Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman provide teasers for the biggest comeback in British television
- 3 The man who made Femen: New film outs Victor Svyatski as the mastermind behind the protest group and its breast-baring stunts
- 4 Mass murder in the Middle East is funded by our friends the Saudis
- 5 Japan cracks down on leaks after scandal of Fukushima nuclear power plant
- < Previous
- Next >
£80000 - £100000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior C++ De...
£25000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C++ Server Dev...
£300 - £350 per day: Harrington Starr: Leading Electronic Trading Software Ven...
£23999 - £32001 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: An independent ac...