The Dutch government has revealed for the first time that Iran hired criminal hitmen to assassinate two Iranian dissidents in the Netherlands, The Daily Telegraph reported Tuesday. The announcement was part of a coordinated European Union initiative that saw sanctions imposed on Tehran for a widespread campaign of assassination plots across Europe.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Dutch foreign ministry said it had “strong indications that Iran was involved in the assassinations” and that it kept the evidence secret “in the interests of facilitating this common EU action” against Iran. “Hostile acts of this kind flagrantly violate the sovereignty of the Netherlands and are unacceptable,” the ministry added.
The EU brought sanctions against Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and two Iranian agents on Tuesday, after two well-publicized attempted terror attacks against dissidents in Paris and Denmark last year. The sanctions will freeze the assets held by the organization and the individuals in the EU.
The two Iranians murdered in the Netherlands were Ahmad Mola Nissi, gunned down in the Hague in November 2017 by a man who emerged from a BMW and shot him at his front door, and Mohammad-Reza Kolahi Samadi, murdered in the city of Almere in December 2015 under similar circumstances.
Nissi was a leader in the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz, a separatist group fighting to establish a state in Khuzestan province for Iran’s small Arab minority. Samadi, who was living under the pseudonym Ali Motamed, was wanted by the regime for his alleged involvement in the 1981 bombing of the Islamic Republic Party headquarters in Tehran.
Iran is suspected of having hired local Dutch gangsters to carry out both killings as a way of concealing the political motive behind the assassinations. Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed terrorist organization, is involved in the global drugs trade and officials believe they may have facilitated connections with Dutch criminals.
In July, the Netherlands announced that it had expelled two Iranian diplomats, but at the time the Dutch government refused to say if it had any evidence that the Islamic Republic was behind the assassinations. “We have always been 99 percent sure it was the Iranian regime but the Dutch government never revealed any information,” Hawra Nissi, the daughter of Ahmad Mola Nissi, told the Telegraph.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif did not directly address the allegations but accused France, Denmark and the Netherlands of harboring terrorists. “Accusing Iran won’t absolve Europe of responsibility for harboring terrorists,” he said.
The EU crackdown on Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence comes at a sensitive time for Iran-European relations, as the regime scrambles to preserve the 2015 nuclear accord, following the withdrawal of the U.S. and the reimposition of sanctions last year.
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