Were we worried about an Iranian sleeper cell? - Macleans.ca

Were we worried about an Iranian sleeper cell?


Brian Stewart offers a theory on the Harper government’s decision to cut diplomatic ties with Iran.

I believe Harper acted on new intelligence. But the warnings were likely more about the Iranian embassy activities in Canada than they were about the safety of our personnel abroad. Indeed, the sheer number of reasons given for the diplomatic break may mask the true one: Iran’s aggressive use of diplomatic cover to prepare guerrilla cells to attack in the west should Iran itself be attacked.

Western intelligence has been ringing top-secret alarm bells for governments for over a year, warning of an extraordinary build-up of Iranian personnel in Europe, Africa and particularly in Latin America, many of them believed to be linked to Iran’s notorious Quds Force. That’s the elite arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, tasked with “extraterritorial operations.” Iran has powered up its diplomatic arm in the Americas, from a handful of embassies a dozen years ago to 10 today, along with 17 “cultural centres” in various countries. Most posts are staffed with far more officials than required for normal duties – 150 in Nicaragua alone. In January, America’s top intelligence official, James Clapper, publicly stated that Iranian diplomats abroad were setting up sleeper cells designed to attack U.S. and allied interests around the world in the event of war.

Michael Petrou’s analysis is here.