By William Tucker
Azerbaijani authorities arrested two of its citizens on Wednesday for plotting to assassinate the Israeli ambassador to the country. One suspect is still at large and is believed to have fled to Iran. Local authorities stated that the three suspects had planned to strike the local Chabad house as well. Although this story didn’t get much international attention it is worthy to note that the Azerbaijani government claimed that the suspects were hired to carry out the attack on behalf of Iran. Azerbaijan has accused Iran of fostering terrorism in their country in the past, but this accusation may be different because some of the intelligence that led to the arrest came from several other countries. Adding to the legitimacy of this claim is the recent arrest of a Hezbollah operative in Thailand who likely had Iranian help in procuring a large quantity of bomb making materials.
The last year saw several Iranian-Hezbollah terror plots disrupted in a variety of locations around the world. This raises the question, has Iranian intelligence, along with Hezbollah, gotten sloppy in launching international actions, or are the nations hosting potential targets more attuned to the threat? At this stage it is likely a mix of both. Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability has garnered international attention over the last decade and Tehran’s past behavior to these challenges is well documented. So too, is the cooperation between Hezbollah and Iran. Iranian intelligence is still very capable despite the publicized setbacks. Operations supporting insurgencies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Colombia have shown that Tehran can be an effective supporter of militancy worldwide. Hezbollah is still capable as well, but they have become much more focused on domestic politics in Lebanon. The terror group has managed to work in Iraq and Yemen supporting local insurgencies, and in some cases, actively fighting. Taken together, both Hezbollah and Iran remain effective in spite of these setbacks, but are more than capable of causing trouble through other avenues.