IRGC spies posed as Israelis to hack me, reveals stabbed Iran dissident

The TV presenter attacked outside his home last week calls for a UK ban on the regime terror group


Zeraati recovering from the stabbing attack

“Physically I’m feeling better,” said Pouria Zeraati, the dissident Iranian TV presenter stabbed outside his home last week by suspected regime agents. “Mentally it’s totally different. It’s going take a long time to get over it.”

Zeraati, presenter of the Last Word show on the anti-regime channel Iran International, was speaking to the JC via Zoom from a safe house where he and his family are living under police protection.

As yet, there is no proof who ordered the attack. But as Zeraati pointed out, it is being investigated by counter-terrorist police, who have already announced that the three prime suspects fled the country immediately afterwards.

He told the JC: “These units are set up to deal with hostile governments, and the fact that they are handling it suggests this is the origin of the attack on me.

“I’ve been told that in the past 24 hours, they have been in touch with partner forces abroad to try to bring them back here to justice,” he said. “And if this was a state-backed plot, the main Iranian organisation involved in these things is the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force”. That is the unit headed by the terrorist mastermind Qassem Soleimani before was killed by a US drone in 2020.

“The IRGC has been mounting attacks on dissidents, journalists and others outside Iran since 1980,” Zeraati said. There had been several in Germany, including the murder of the dissident TV presenter and writer Fereydoun Farrokhzad, who was knifed to death in his Bonn apartment in 1992.

But the only previous Iranian attack on UK soil of which he was aware was the bombing of a shop that sold anti-regime videos and books in Kensington which killed its owner’s son in 1986.

Zeraati said he and his colleagues had been receiving frequent threats since mass protests against the regime began in Iran in the autumn of 2022. In his case, they were not only made online, but on London’s streets, where family members had been confronted and told the regime “knew where we lived”. The JC has agreed not to divulge full details of these incidents at Zeraati’s request.

Zeraati said he vehemently criticised the anti-Israel marches held in Britain since October 7 on his show, and since then, “the level of threats we faced got even worse”. He had reported every one of them to his designated police liaison officer.

He also believed that Iran had tried to hack the computers and other devices used by himself and his colleagues. In his case, he had received a message from someone using a phone with an Israeli +972 code, purporting to be a journalist from the Jerusalem Post who wanted to interview him.

But when the “reporter” tried to set up an online meeting and sent a link, he became suspicious and reported it. Others at the channel had received similar approaches, from bogus “journalists” supposedly working for Reuters and other outlets. Eventually, Zeraati said, cyber security experts had told them the source was a known cyber warfare unit of the IRGC.

Zeraati said that he often asked guests whether they believed Britain should proscribe the IRGC as a terrorist organisation – including Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in an interview last year. Netanyahu replied that he believed it should, because “the IRGC is the foremost terrorist organisation in the world”, adding that if the British government needed intelligence to justify this move, “I have a lot of it”.

In his own view, Zeraati said, putting the IRGC on the official terrorist list “would help dissidents and human rights activists opposed to the regime who live outside Iran, by putting pressure on it”. Carrying placards venerating Soleimani – as seen at last week’s Quds Day parade in London – would become a criminal offence.

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