Report: Iran planned major terrorist attack against UAE embassy in Addis Ababa 

The Ethiopian police has yet to file charges against the 15 people arrested, among whom only two have been identified. Iran denies the accusations

Iran is playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse while searching for new targets on the African continent. Recently, 15 people, who according to American and Israeli officials were involved in a foiled Iranian attempt to take action against diplomats from the United Arab Emirates, were arrested in Ethiopia. The New York Times reported that the intelligence agency of Ethiopia uncovered a 15-member cell that conducted surveillance of the Emirati embassy in Addis Ababa, along with a cache of weapons and explosives. Thus, a major terrorist attack that could have caused havoc in the Ethiopian capital was thwarted.      

However, the Ethiopians did not reveal who was behind the plot. They announced that the ringleader was the 16th person arrested, Ahmed Ismail, who was charged with being in command of the group after being arrested in Sweden with the assistance of "friendly" intelligence services from Africa, Asia and Europe. According to American and Israeli officials, Iran is behind the operation. The Iranian intelligence activated a sleeper cell in Addis Ababa last fall, with orders to collect intelligence on the Emirati, Israeli and American embassies in the Ethiopian capital.    

The operation in Ethiopia was supposed to be part of a wider plan to locate "soft" targets in African countries where the Iranians would be able to carry out painful and high-profile attacks, similar to the killings of the Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh and general Qassem Soleimani. Rear Admiral Heidi Berg, the director of intelligence for the US military's Africa Command, said that Iran is behind the 15 who were arrested in Ethiopia, and the mastermind of the foiled attempt is the same Ismail who was arrested in Sweden. Rear Admiral Berg confirmed that Ethiopia and Sweden cooperated in thwarting the plot.           

Iran denied the accusations. "These are baseless allegations only provoked by the Zionist regime’s malicious media," a spokeswoman for the Iranian embassy in Addis Ababa said. Ethiopia and the Emirates did not comment on the news. But the National Intelligence and Security Service of Ethiopia announced that a second group of plotters had been preparing to attack the UAE embassy in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, and a Sudanese official confirmed the report. 

The Ethiopian police has yet to file charges against the 15 people arrested, among whom only two have been identified. The New York Times reported that in November last year, after the Ethiopian prime minister's visit to Israel, a group of drone pilots from Israel arrived in Ethiopia " to help eliminate the locusts that have plagued the country’s farmers".

Several weeks afterward, the head of the Mossad, Yossi Cohen, met with his Ethiopian counterpart to discuss "counterterrorism operations". In other places in Africa, the newspaper wrote, Israeli intelligence frequently tips off friendly countries about suspected Iranian activity.  

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