London: Britain and other European nations are at risk from Iranian terror attacks on home soil and must do more to deter the regime, America’s counter-terrorism coordinator has warned. Nathan Sales told The Daily Telegraph that Iran has plotted a slew of assassinations in Europe in recent years and could do so again.
He praised the UK government for recently designating Hizbollah, an Islamist group backed by Iran, as a terrorist organisation and urged other EU countries to match the move.
Sales also pointed to the expulsion of Iranian ambassadors from European countries in the early Nineties after a bomb attack, saying that reaction could be “instructive”.
“It is unacceptable that Iran would regard the European continent as fertile ground for its campaign of terrorism,” Sales said.
“If there are no costs, Iran is going to keep at it. So it’s incumbent on us to impose those costs,” he added.
The comments reflect the hard line Donald Trump’s administration has taken on Iran in the two years since he took over the presidency.
Trump pulled America out of the Iran nuclear deal struck by his predecessor Barack Obama, which limits Iran’s nuclear programme in return for the lifting of economic sanctions.
The move triggered a clash with America’s European allies, which have remained committed to the deal alongside the other signatories of China, Russia and Iran.
Speaking in London near the end of a European visit, Sales expressed alarm at the growing number of terror plots allegedly carried out by Iran or its proxies in recent years in the region.
He blamed Iran for a foiled bomb attack on a political opposition rally in Paris and an alleged plot to murder an exiled political leader in Denmark.
Sales also cited the 2012 bombing of a bus carrying Jewish tourists in Bulgaria and political assassinations in Holland which the Dutch government has blamed on Iran.
Asked why Iran was allegedly carrying out the attacks, he said: “Because terrorism is fundamental to the Iranian regime’s raison d’etre.
“They regard the export of their revolution as absolutely fundamental and central to the regime’s identity.”
Sales said Britain was not immune from the threat, warning: “I think the regime regards Europe as a whole, the UK included, as fertile ground for its operations.”
Hizbollah considers itself both a political party and a military group based in Lebanon.
But Sales said “Hizbollah is one organisation. Its leaders, its members, do not differentiate between their military terroristic activities on the one hand and their so-called political activities on the other.”