Italy busts arms smuggling network, arrests Iranian intelligence agents

Hamid Nejad Masoumi


Italian authorities have announced the arrest of two Iranians and five Italians on suspicion of smuggling European-made weapons and explosives to Iran. Italian police said the Iranians involved in the operation, which breached an international embargo on Iran, are “believed to be members of the Iranian secret services”. They are Ali Damirchiloo, 55 (occupation unknown), and Hamid Nejad Masoumi, 51, an accredited journalist and Iranian state television correspondent, who has lived in Italy since 1995. Italian authorities have issued arrest warrants for two more Iranians, Hamir Bakhtiyari Reza and Bakhtiyari Homayoun, who are also believed to be intelligence agents and are thought to have managed to escape to Iran. Weapons and explosives seized by police include mostly dual-use gear (civilian equipment with military applications), such as chemical explosives, optical equipment, and even scuba-diving paraphernalia. But they also include Bulgarian-made anti-tank missiles, and incendiary bomb parts, most of which had been purchased in Eastern Europe and trafficked through front companies in the Czech Republic, Britain, Italy, and the United Arab Emirates.  The police operation, code-named SNIPER, which led to the seven arrests, appears to have been multinational, with Italian, Swiss, British and Romanian law enforcement authorities chipping in. In the meantime, Tehran has rejected the Italian arms-smuggling allegations, and has summoned the Italian ambassador.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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