German authorities believe that Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has been using a Hells Angels leader to orchestrate recent attacks on Jewish targets in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, according to a report.
Citing an investigation due to be taken over by the state’s attorney general, German public service broadcaster ARD reported that investigators believed that attacks last month on synagogues in Essen and Bochum, and an attempt to incite an arson attack on a synagogue in Dortmund, were ordered by IRGC, which has long carried out attacks against perceived enemies of the Islamic Republic overseas.
“We're talking about state terrorism here,” an investigator was quoted by ARD as saying.
The attacks in Germany are just the latest alleged Iranian overseas operations to have come to light in recent months. In particular, Iran is believed to have ramped up operations targeting dissidents abroad since the start of huge protests over the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody in September.
Investigators believe fugitive German-Iranian biker boss Ramin Yektaparast, currently based in Tehran, acted as the operational command for the attacks, according to the report. Yektaparast, the founder of the Hells Angels chapter in the city of Mönchengladbach, is understood to have fled to Iran last year to escape trial for the murder and dismemberment in 2014 of a fellow Hells Angel who the gang believed to be an informer, according to ARD. Neither Yektaparast or the Iranian authorities have commented on the reports.
The report also claimed that the cell was believed to be involved in a plot to target the president of the Central Council of German Jews. The council told VICE World News that German security services had notified them of the threat. “But we’re feeling in good hands with the security agencies,” the council said in a statement on Friday."
The attacks on the 18th of November saw shots fired at the Old Synagogue in Essen, and a Molotov cocktail thrown at a Jewish school next to the synagogue in Bochum. Prosecutors later announced they had arrested a 35-year-old German-Iranian in Dortmund for allegedly carrying out the attack in nearby Bochum.
The man was arrested after a witness approached police saying the man had tried to pressure him into carrying out an arson attack on a synagogue in Dortmund on the same night as the other attacks. The suspect had promised the witness he would get an amnesty from Iranian authorities allowing him to visit Iran without repercussions if he carried out the attack, according to reports.
The suspect was subsequently identified on security camera footage from the site of the Bochum attack.
The Central Council of German Jews said in a statement to VICE World News that the attacks were an assault on the shared values of all Germans, and were indicative of the increased threat facing Jews. Steffen Klävers, a spokesperson for Germany’s Jewish Forum for Democracy and Against Antisemitism, told VICE World News that it was “deeply troubling” that the IRGC may have been commiting “acts of antisemitic state terrorism in Germany.”
“The current events underline the danger that the Iranian regime presents to Jewish life not only in Germany, but worldwide,” he said. “They add to the experience of Jewish communities in Germany of living under the constant threat that violent attacks may emerge everyday and everywhere.”
Yektaparast did not respond to a message requesting comment through his Instagram account, which features the flags of Iran and Germany in his bio, slow motion footage of him riding a motorbike, and pictures of him posing with a Rolls Royce and a Lamborghini.
Iran’s alleged overseas operations have targeted enemies in the US as well. In August, US Justice Department officials charged a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps over an alleged plot to kill former US National Security Advisor John Bolton, and a suspected Iranian operative was arrested with an AK-47-style rifle outside the New York City home of a dissident Iranian-American journalist, Masih Alinejad. VICE World News has previously reported how intel officials believed the man suspected of stabbing Salman Rushdie during a speaking event in New York state in August had been in contact with members of the IRGC.