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Iran News in Brief – February 9, 2024

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THIS PAGE WILL BE UPDATED WITH THE LATEST NEWS

UPDATE: 7:30 PM

Missiles Hit Al-Mazzah Military Airport in the Capital Damascus

sohr logoViolent explosions were heard in the capital Damascus and the surrounding areas as a result of new attacks on Syrian territory. The attacks hit the surroundings of Al-Mazzah military airport in western Damascus, which hosts positions of Iranian-backed militias and Lebanese Hezbollah, amid attempts by the regime’s air defenses to intercept the missiles.

It is worth noting that the shrapnel of a missile of the air defenses hit a house in the vicinity of Al-Sayyadah Zainab in southern Damascus. However, no casualties have been reported yet. SOHR sources reported the arrival of a cargo plane at Al-Mazzah military airport hours before targeting it, while Israeli sources denied Israel’s responsibility for this attack.

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Hamburg Bank Suspected as ‘Financial Hub’ for Iranian Terror

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BERLIN — A small Hamburg bank was at the center of a clandestine financial network Iran relied on for years to funnel money to its terror proxies in the Middle East, including Hezbollah in Lebanon and Yemen’s Houthi rebels, officials from two Western intelligence agencies say.

POLITICO can reveal that Western intelligence flagged evidence to German financial authorities that the Islamic Republic was using Varengold Bank AG to fund its terror affiliates, leading to a sweeping investigation that has forced the bank to all but shut down its commercial banking operations.

Iran’s military complex relies on European banks to launder the proceeds of its illicit sale of oil and other goods, western intelligence officials say, in order to get it hands on hard currency, which is easier to move through the global financial system without detection.

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UPDATE: 1:00 PM

Meta Shuts Down Khamenei’s Pages on Instagram and Facebook

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On Thursday, February 8, Meta Technology company closed the pages associated with the Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, on Instagram and Facebook. The Persian-language Khamenei page on Instagram had close to five million followers.

Citing a spokesperson from Meta, sources have reported the reason behind the closure of Khamenei’s accounts: “These accounts have been deleted due to repeated violations of the policies of organizations and dangerous individuals.”

Khamenei was using Instagram and Facebook while the clerical regime had already filtered these two social networks, along with X (formerly known as Twitter) and Telegram.


Hezbollah Military Commander Abbas al-Dabs Killed in Drone Strike in Lebanon

Abbas al-Dabs, a Hezbollah military leader, was killed in a drone attack, according to reports from Sky News Arabic. Also known by his alias Hajj Abdullah, succumbed to the attack that targeted a vehicle in the Nabatieh region.

Local media initially reported an airstrike on a vehicle in the Nabatieh area on Thursday,  while thick plumes of smoke were observed in southern Lebanon. Lebanese and Palestinian sources have claimed that the attack was carried out by an Israeli drone, resulting in at least three reported casualties.

The state-run website Hamshahri also reported the incident, citing Arab media, “Abbas al-Dabs, the operations chief of Hezbollah in Nabatieh, was assassinated in a drone attack on a vehicle at the entrance of this city in southern Lebanon. The drones of the interim regime [Israel] targeted a car in the city of Nabatieh in southern Lebanon; the attack on Nabatieh is unprecedented since the 2006 war.”


European Parliament Condemns Increasing Executions in Iran and Calls for Global Investigation into Human Rights Violations

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During its session on February 7 and 8 in Brussels, the European Parliament passed a joint resolution condemning the escalating executions in Iran, particularly the execution of the political prisoner Mohammad Ghobadlou, and called for criminal investigations into officials responsible for serious human rights violations in Iran, as well as the designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.

The resolution highlighted the staggering number of executions in Iran, citing 800 executions in 2023 and 54 executions in January 2024 alone. It criticized the unfair trial of Mohammad Ghobadlou and other prisoners facing imminent execution.

Furthermore, the resolution demanded the unconditional and immediate release of all death row inmates and political prisoners, including EU citizens such as Ahmadreza Djalali and Johan Floderus, while also urging for a new and bold strategy from the European Union towards the Iranian regime, including countering its hostage diplomacy.


US Conducts More Strikes on Houthi Targets in Yemen

WASHINGTON, Feb 8 (Reuters) – The U.S. Central Command forces on Thursday conducted seven “self-defense” strikes against four Houthi unmanned surface vessels and seven mobile anti-ship cruise missiles that were prepared to be launched against ships in the Red Sea, the U.S. military said.

The Iran-aligned Houthi militants, who control the most populous parts of Yemen, have launched a wave of exploding drones and missiles at commercial vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, opening a new tab in recent weeks, calling it a response to Israel’s military operations in Gaza and a show of solidarity to Palestinians.

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Sweden Has Thwarted Iranian Attack Plots, Counterintelligence Police Say

STOCKHOLM (AP) — A senior member of the Swedish security police said Thursday that Iran has planned attacks on the country, days after local media reported that two Iranians were deported for a plot to kill three Swedish Jews several years ago.

Earlier this week, Swedish broadcast SR reported that two Iranians had been suspected of planning to kill members of the Swedish Jewish community. They were arrested in 2021 and were expelled from Sweden in 2022 without charges, according to Swedish radio.

Daniel Stenling, counterespionage head at Sweden’s domestic security agency, told SR on Thursday that Iran “has been preparing and conducted activities aimed at carrying out a so-called physical attack against someone or something in Sweden.”

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Banks, Stefanik, Waltz Request DOJ Investigate Iran-Linked NGO

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Reps. Jim Banks (IN-03), Elise Stefanik (NY-21), and Michael Waltz (FL-06) sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting the U.S. Department of Justice open an investigation to determine if the International Crisis Group (ICG), a non-governmental organization based in Brussels, acted as an unregistered agent for the government of Iran.

Said Rep. Jim Banks: “Joe Biden’s disgraced former Iran envoy ran a foreign think tank that had entered into an undisclosed formal agreement with an Iranian government organization which denies the Holocaust. Members of this same foreign think tank were pledging allegiance to Iran while advising Democratic administrations on Iran policy. It’s unbelievable. The Justice Department must hold the International Crisis Group accountable for failing to register as a foreign agent, and Congress should continue to investigate Iran’s infiltration of the Biden administration and its malign influence on White House policy.” 

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Stefanik Co-Leads Letter Urging DOJ To Investigate the International Crisis Group For FARA Violations

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Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Elise Stefanik co-led a letter with Congressman Jim Banks (R-IN) calling on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to launch an investigation into the International Crisis Group for potentially violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) following reports the organization has engaged in a longstanding secret relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“The DOJ must immediately open an investigation into the International Crisis Group for failing to register their formal agreement with Iran, a clear violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. We must investigate the depths of Crisis Group’s employees’ involvement in advocating on behalf of the Iranian regime while simultaneously trying to influence Biden Administration officials,” said Congresswoman Elise Stefanik.

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UPDATE: 7:30 AM

PMOI Resistance Units Commemorate February 8 Martyrs Across Iran

 Resistance Units commemorate February 8 martyrs across Iran The network of the supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) inside Iran, known as the Resistance Units, organized various activities commemorating the anniversary of Ashraf Rajavi, Mousa Khiabani, and other PMOI members killed by the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) on February 8, 1982. The activities, held from north to south and east to west in Iran, including in cities such as Rasht, Tehran, Karaj, Shiraz, Isfahan, Sari, Babol, Nowshahr, Sanandaj, Qazvin, Kermanshah, Bandar Abbas, Zahedan, and Sabzevar, involved hanging banners, writing slogans, and distributing flyers bearing messages from Masoud Rajavi and Maryam Rajavi. These messages convey the meanings of sacrifice, resistance, and continuing the march until the Islamic Republic regime is overthrown.

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Iran’s Regime’s Deadly Response to Internal Crises

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In the face of mounting crises, the Iranian regime’s inability to respond effectively to the needs of its people has led to a disturbing increase in repression and executions. Rather than addressing the country’s pressing issues, the regime has chosen to intensify its grip on power through violence and fear. Notably, alongside the nation’s environmental and infrastructural degradation, the regime has resorted to increasing its medieval practice of torture, resulting in the deaths of detainees.

The regime’s determination to eliminate dissenters reflects its desperation to maintain control. Sepehr Shirani, a 19-year-old student from Zahedan, was brutally murdered under torture for his involvement in online activism, highlighting the regime’s ruthless tactics, particularly during times of protest and unrest.

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Economic Instability in Iran: Impact of Currency Fluctuations

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Mehrad Ebad, a member of the Iranian Chamber of Commerce delegation, expressed concerns in an interview with ILNA news agency about the continuous surge in the price of currency in the Iranian market, resulting in a devaluation of the national currency. He remarked, “Nowhere else does a national currency depreciate by 20 percent overnight.”

Economic stability is paramount for a healthy and progressive economy, enabling investments without barriers or losses. Unfortunately, such stability remains elusive in Iran, deterring both domestic and foreign investors.

State media frequently highlight the government and Central Bank’s disregard for the free market currency rate. Urgent calls are made for a unified currency rate and its acceptance in the free market.

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Hacker Group Exposes IRGC Front Company: Iran’s Regime Caught in Arms Trade Scheme

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On February 4, 2024, PRANA Network announced the successful hacking of the email servers belonging to Sahara Thunder, a front company for the Iran regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), facilitating illegal arms sales from Iran to Russia.

Among the leaked documents regarding the localization of Iranian attack drone production in the special economic zone “Alabuga,” Russia, negotiations were detailed, revealing production volumes and drone costs.

Although the documents do not explicitly mention the product type, drones are referred to under a special code as “Dolphin 632 type motor boat.”

The papers revealed Russia’s intention to license-produce 6,000 Iranian drones by 2022 at its facilities over 2.5 years. The initial announced price by Iran was 23 million rubles per unit ($375,000), but negotiations settled at 12 million rubles per unit for 6,000 units ($193,000) or 18 million rubles for 2,000 units ($290,000).

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Fire Department: Tehran has 18,000 High-Risk Buildings

iran tehran ghandi hospital fire

Jalal Maleki, the spokesperson for the Tehran Fire Department, announced that there are 18,000 high-risk buildings in the city and stated that these buildings pose a danger to the city’s future.

Maleki also declared that 75 buildings in Tehran are in critical condition.

Incidents such as the Plasco Building collapse, the Gandhi Hospital fire, and Sina At’har Medical Center have raised concerns among the public.

Following the fire at Gandhi Hospital in Tehran on January 25, sensitivity towards high-risk buildings has increased. Maleki mentioned that out of 2,300 medical centers examined, only 1,800 have received certification from the firefighting department.

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Iranian Judiciary’s Brutality: Man’s Fingers Cut off for Stealing 5 Sheep

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According to information recently received by Iran Human Rights Monitor (Iran HRM), the Iranian judiciary carried out a medieval act of brutality on July 17, 2023. They implemented the verdict to sever the fingers of a 35-year-old man named Youssef T. in the Central Prison of Qom, on charges of stealing five sheep. This prisoner had been sentenced to the amputation of four fingers.

According to reports from a reliable source to the Iran Human Rights Organization, Youssef, a 34-year-old man, was accused of stealing five sheep from a livestock farm owned by a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Youssef was building a room on that farm. Throughout his 13-month imprisonment, he maintained his innocence and denied the theft charges.

In yet another cruel and inhumane measure, the authorities and security agency of Qom Prison forced the inmates to witness the severing of the fingers of the prisoner, who was accused of stealing five sheep from a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

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Vancouver, Canada—February 7, 2024: MEK Supporters Exhibition in Solidarity With the Iran Revolution

Vancouver Canada February 7 2024

Vancouver, Canada—February 7, 2024: Freedom-loving Iranians and supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) organized an exhibition and info desk to express support for the Iranian Revolution. Iranians strongly condemned the wave of executions in Iran by the mullahs’ regime. MEK supporters in Vancouver demanded the trial of the mullahs’ regime leaders, especially Ali Khamenei  (Supreme leader of the mullahs’ regime) and the mass murderer Ebrahim Raisi for crimes against humanity, in an international court.

In addition, the Iranian Resistance supporters in Vancouver urged the international community to support the Iran Revolution and take a firm stance against the oppressive regime of the mullahs.

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Paris, France—February 7, 2024: Exhibition by MEK Supporters in Solidarity with the Iran Revolution

Paris, France—February 7, 2024: Exhibition by MEK Supporters in Solidarity with the Iran Revolution

Paris, France—February 7, 2024: Freedom-loving Iranians and supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) organized an exhibition in solidarity with the Iranian Revolution.

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Also, read Iran News in Brief – February 8, 2023