Iranian sleeper cells are not something that is new. As Michael Rubin points out in an op-ed for Commentary Magazine, in 1992, the German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel reduced the German sanctions on Iran, and after this move, the Iranian leadership activated a Berlin-based cell and assassinated several Iranian Kurdish dissidents at Berlin’s Mykonos Café. Another attack was that in 1994 on the Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires which partly relied on Hezbollah operatives located on the triple border area among Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.
He then continues with the 1996 Khobar Towers attack, which killed 19 U.S. airmen in Saudi Arabia, was conducted by Hezbollah operatives who had been recruited and trained by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. In effect, they were an Iranian sleeper cell located in Saudi Arabia, which the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps constituted to kill Americans and embarrass the Kingdom.
He stressed the fact that Arab states have recently complained about a resurgence of these so-called Iranian sleeper cells. In 2008, several Gulf Cooperation Council states blamed Iran of constituting sleeper cells on their territories and later, in 2010, Kuwait repeated the charges. After the country stated that it was monitoring the Iranian cells located on its territory, it subsequently rolled up an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps cell. In 2015, Kuwait issued a statement that they neutralized a terror cell that was under the command of the Iranian embassy in Kuwait City.
Rubin also points out that Iranian efforts to sponsor terror cells in Africa and across the Middle East are increasing due to the many reliable circumstances such as the lifting of sanctions, new investments from Asia and Europe etc. Earlier this summer, Kuwait arrested alleged Iran and Hezbollah terror cell members.
Bahrain is yet another country that is facing an increasing Iranian challenge that now seems to have hijacked and increased the lethality of the domestic unrest that erupted in 2011. Just last week, Bahrain neutralized a ten-member terrorist cell.
The author concludes that the presence of the Iranian sleeper cells has long been the barometer of Iranian intention and the forerunner to Iranian terror attacks. They serve no other purpose. European leaders might consider Iranian President Hassan Rouhani a pragmatic or reforming voice inside the Islamic Republic, and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sincerity, it is the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and intelligence ministries which call the shots, and the direction they are pointing Iran is becoming all too clear.