Pouria Zeraati, a presenter for Iran International, was stabbed at his home in Wimbledon, London, March 29, 2024

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Iran’s leadership has denied any involvement in Friday’s stabbing of Pouria Zeraati, a presenter for the TV outlet Iran International.

The Iranian charge d’affaires in London, Mehdi Hosseini Matin, issued the denial on Sautrday. He insisted that it was “quite strange and questionable” that Tehran had been accused.

Zeraati is in stable condition in hospital and hoping to be discharged soon.

Iran International spokesman Adam Baillie said:

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) doesn’t leave fingerprints. Why would they? They operate through certain third parties which is an easy thing for them to do. They could operate via criminal gangs and in any city they want. They would never leave a paper trail between an attack and themselves.

It does appear on the surface to be a planned attack and they do have a motive to carry out the threat.


Iran’s Revolutionary Guards are under renewed suspicion after the stabbing of journalist Pouria Zeraati in London on Friday.

Zeraati works for the Saudi-funded, Persian-language TV news channel. Spokesperson Adam Baillie said the journalist had received an increase in threats recently.

Baillie noted that personnel of the channel have been under “heavy threat for the last 18 months”.

Families [in Iran] have been taken in for questioning. The scale of that has increased dramatically over the last few months and the scale of questioning has been more aggressive: “Tell your relatives to stop working for this channel”

Zeraati was attacked by a group of men as he left his home in Wimbledon. Metropolitan Police officers responding to a call to the address found the journalist with an injury to his leg. He is in hospital in stable condition.

The Met’s Counter-Terrorism Unit is leading the investigation. Its head, Commander Dominic Murphy, said that the force is “keeping an open mind”, but the unit was in charge “given the occupation of the victim and our publicized concerns about the threat to employees of that organization”.

ORIGINAL ENTRY, DEC 21, 2023: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards plotted the assassination of two Iranian news presenters in London, according to an investigation by the UK’s ITV News.

Citing video recordings and text messages, ITV says the operatives offered a people-smuggler $200,000 to assassinate the presenters of Saudi-backed Iran International outside their West London studio.

The killings of Fardad Farahzad, a former BBC News correspondent, and Sima Sabet would show critics that the Iranian regime “could do harm to them at any time”.

The assassination by car bomb was scheduled for autumn 2022. But concerns grew over the number of security guards outside the studio. So orders were sent to the hitman to “simply stab” Farahzad and Sabet — codenamed “the bride and the groom” — in their home “using a kitchen knife”.

That was foiled because the would-be assassin, “Ismail”, had become a double agent. He informed a Western intelligence agency about the scheme and subsequently told ITV — an account verified by multiple Western officials.

Ismail said he was told in October 2022 by his handlers as the plans were changed, “This London thing must be done in any circumstances. We must finish them.”

He explained to ITV, “It had to be done where they live, in their residence. In their home, in the lifts, on the stairs or in the corridors.”

UK officials says the scheme was overseen by Revolutionary Guards commander Mohammed Reza Ansari.

Ansari was sanctioned on June 1 by the US Treasury. The Americans said he was part of a unit of the Quds Force, the Revolutionary Guards’ branch for foreign operations, for covert action “including planning and conducting intelligence and lethal operations against Iranian dissidents and other non-Iranian nationals in the United States, the Middle East, Europe, and Africa”.

Ansari allegedly worked with Iranian national Shahram Poursafi on plans to assassinate two former US Government officials. Poursafi was indicted by the US Justice Department in August 2022, for providing and attempting to provide material support to a transnational murder plot.

Commands to Ismail were sent by Mohammed Abd al-Razek Kanafani, who sent screengrabs of the presenters’ Instagram profiles and followed up with telephone calls.

In a call on October 22, 2022, Kanafani instructed Ismail to target executives of Iran International as well: “I want its director. The director and his deputy, and five to six people. The director is the most important.”

Assassination Plot “Shows I Did My Job Well”

Alerted by specialist officers from Scotland Yard about the plot, Iran International moved their studios from London to the US in November 2022.

The presenters did not learn of the plot until they were recently informed by ITV.

Farahzad was formally designated a target on November 6, 2022 by commanders in the Revolutionary Guards Unit 840, which allegedly carried out assasssinations abroad.

Farahzad said at his US studio: “Hearing it firsthand makes it more real. It’s shocking to see people who are casually talking about harming me.”

Sabet reacted, “The fact that they tried to kill me shows I did my job well, I was effective….I didn’t betray people and I stood with them, even with my life on the line.”

The head of security for Iran International, Roger MacMillan, summarized:

Ultimately, [the Revolutionary Guards] want to take us off air.

You will achieve that by either attacking the physical building or rendering it impossible to broadcast or you’ll send a message by removing key executives or in this case two lead presenters from the equation.

If you do that you’ll deliver a message… look what we’ve done we’ve been able to reach in, right to the center of your business and remove your key presenters from it.

These are unprecedented times.

“I Look Over My Shoulder All The Time”

Iran’s operatives have also been implicated in plots to kill or abduct Israeli targets and Iranian exiles in the West, including New York-based journalist and activist Masih Alinejad.

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Last week UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron said Iran’s regime continues to “threaten people on UK soil”. He cited at least 15 credible threats to kill or kidnap British nationals and others since the beginning of 2022.

Iranian intelligence services have threatened the staff of BBC Persian and their relatives. Officials are now reportedly targeting Iranians in the UK over the “Woman. Life. Freedom” protests, which began in September 2022 after the death of Mahsa Amini — detained and reportedly beaten by “morality police” — in custody.

A civil rights activist from the human rights group United for Mahsa said:

I look over my shoulder all the time ever since the diaspora started receiving online and offline threats from pro-regime individuals living inside this country.

I don’t feel safe online or on the streets. The Islamic Republic runs a very strong online campaign to target dissidents in the west.

Donya, the organizerof the social media campaign Be Iran’s Voice, explains:

We need the protection of non-Iranians. We need people to stand with us so that we have the confidence to have freedom of expression in the same way that is given to other people who aren’t Iranian.

I should have the right to be protected in the UK, the country in which I was born.