NAIROBI, KENYA | Two Iranians who led authorities to a cache of explosives after their arrest planned to attack Israeli, U.S., British or Saudi targets inside Kenya, officials told the Associated Press on Monday.
The two are thought to be members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force, an elite and secretive unit that acts against foreign interests, one of the officials said.
The foiled attack appeared to fit into a global pattern of purported plots by Iranian agents. Previous plots were uncovered in the U.S. - against Saudi Arabia’s ambassador - as well as in Thailand, Azerbaijan and India.
Kenyan security forces arrested the Iranians on June 19, and were then led to 33 pounds of RDX, a powerful explosive that could have been used against multiple targets or concentrated in one large bomb.
If used together, the explosives could have leveled a medium-sized hotel, officials told AP. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation.
The two suspects - Ahmad Abolfathi Mohammad and Sayed Mansour Mousavi - appeared in a Kenyan court last week, where Mr. Mohammad said he had been interrogated by Israeli agents. A spokesman for the Israeli Embassy said it had no comment.
In Israel, the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the AP that “there are no limits to the Iranian terror.”
“After Iran sent its people to assassinate the Saudi ambassador on American soil and carry out attacks in Azerbaijan, Bangkok, Tbilisi and New Delhi, now its intention to carry out attacks in Africa is revealed. The international community needs to fight the world’s greatest exporter of terror,” said a statement from Mr. Netanyahu’s office.
Given the previous purported plots against Israeli interests overseas, it appeared likely that Israeli properties in Kenya were the likely primary targets, said one of the two officials, a Western diplomat.
Anthony Cordesman, a Middle East expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the purported plot fits into a pattern of Iranian actions against Israel.
Five Iranian scientists with links to Tehran’s nuclear program have been killed in the last two years, and Iran has blamed Israel - as well as U.S. and British intelligence agencies - for the attacks.