New information in the case of Iranian dissident Habib al-Kaabi has revealed that the latter was lured to a "romantic" meeting in Turkey, which he described as a "honey trap", which eventually led him to the basements of the notorious Iranian intelligence service in November 2021.
According to the American news network Sky News, Turkish authorities claim that the Iranian operation to kidnap an Iranian dissident in Istanbul was carried out through a spy belonging to the Kaabi family. "The daring kidnapping that took place in Istanbul and the trap set by the Iranian opposition caused further tension between Turkey, Iran and Europe", - according to a report published on its website.
Sky News got acquainted with the documents of the Turkish counter-terrorism department, from which it became clear how the operation was carried out to set a trap for Habib al-Kaabi, lure him to Istanbul, and then smuggle him into Iran. “Dissident Habib al-Kaabi is currently facing the death penalty, and his friends and family are calling on the European Union and the international community to intervene to save him,” Sky News reported a year ago, adding: “Iran is constantly accused of using its agents to catch its opponents under the protection of European governments to places where they could be kidnapped or killed.
This is exactly what happened to French-based opposition journalist Ruhollah Zam, who was executed in Tehran, but his wife said he was actually kidnapped during his trip to Iraq last October, where he was first kidnapped by the Iranian revolutionary guards, and then taken to Iran. According to Sky News, a number of journalists working for Iran international, an independent 24-hour news channel based in London, received calls from some officials in Iran's notorious Ministry of Intelligence and National Security who threatened them with kidnapping on the street if they didn't stop doing their job. “Friends of Habib al-Kaabi, who appeared on Iranian television two days after his abduction, confessing to the attacks, are now very worried about his life and believe that these confessions were made under duress,” she said.
She also stated that the Turkish authorities strongly denied any involvement in the kidnapping of Habib al-Kaabi and, as evidence, provided Sky News with the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the documents of the investigation conducted by the Anti-Terrorism Unit in Turkey, from which it was clear that al- Kaabi disappeared from Turkey in early October. This was done in an attempt to refute the accusations against Ankara. A senior Turkish presidential official said that Ankara strongly condemns the illegal operation carried out by Iranian intelligence and that Turkish intelligence has identified the people involved in the kidnapping, who are now facing justice.
Habib al-Kaabi was considered the leader of the Arab movement for the liberation of Ahvaz [i] , whose independence is advocated by the Arab minority living in this part of the country in southwestern Iran. Al-Kaabi left Iran 10 years ago and lived with his family in exile in Sweden, where he received Swedish citizenship, but continued to "inspire" the Arab national movement for the liberation of Ahwaz. A series of photographs shown by the Turkish authorities proved the existence of a plan to lure al-Kaabi to Turkey under the pretext of a romantic meeting with a certain young girl. Turkish investigators said that this woman was a spy working for Iran, and the operation was called a "honey trap" ( as in professional jargon they call operations to lure people objectionable to the authorities ).
Sky News also reported that there were unconfirmed reports that al-Kaabi and the young lady were romantically involved and that she may have lent him large sums of money. Whatever the truth, the CCTV footage shows the kidnappers gathered together in Istanbul the day before the operation, and two of them visited stores to buy different sizes of cable wires, with the Turkish authorities claiming they were used for the entanglement of Habib al-Kaabi's hands and feet during his abduction and being stuffed into a transport truck a few hours later. The agency also stated that there are other photos of Habib al-Kaabi arriving at Sabiha International Airport in Istanbul the following evening - October 9, 2020, where he took a "taxi" heading to a gas station 80 kilometers away to meet a woman. whose name sounded like Sabrine Saidi.
The agency claimed that the photographs showing al-Kaabi's arrival in Turkish territory proved that he disappeared from view at night, as the cameras only recorded the arrival of a certain vehicle that took him to an area 1,600 kilometers to the east, near from the Turkish-Iranian border, from where he was then smuggled to Tehran. Two days later, his confessions of involvement in the attack on a military base in southern Iran a few years earlier were broadcast.
Friends and colleagues of the disappeared opposition leader called on the international community to intervene urgently, fearing that Habib al-Kaabi would suffer the same fate as the dissident journalist Ruhollah Zama. A London-based Iranian dissident and close friend of Habib Al-Kaabi called on the EU to intervene and put pressure on Iran, stressing that Al-Kaabi is innocent of the charges against him. He stressed that Sweden, Turkey and the European community must fully fulfill their obligations, because the Iranian authorities may execute al-Kaabi, as happened recently with the Iranian opposition journalist Ruhollah Zama, who was also kidnapped from Paris in 2019 by the intelligence and sabotage unit corps of the "Guardians of the Iranian Revolution". Akbar Khoshk, a former Iranian security officer, spoke about this two years after Zama's arrest in an interview with the Ruwaydad 24 website. He also gave details of the operation to lure Zam out of Paris and arrest him in Iraq, but official Iranian authorities did not confirm or deny the version provided by Hoshk, who worked for decades in the Foreign Investigation Department of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry, the website reported.
It should be noted that the persecution of Iranians abroad has a long history. In August 2021, the Abdurrahman Bromand Center for Human Rights released a report and statement alleging the Iranian regime's attempt to kidnap U.S.-based civic activist Masih Alinejad, noting that the Iranian regime had "knocked its hand" in cases of this nature. The Bromand Center, through its investigations, identified cases of more than 540 Iranians who were killed or abducted, which was attributed to them by the existing regime.
[i] The city of Ahvaz is the administrative center of the province of Khuzestan, the main oil-producing region of Iran. Unlike the deserted Central Iran, there are often groves of date palms and green fields cultivated by the caring hands of local peasants. Khuzestan is inhabited by representatives of different peoples, in particular Persians, but the vast majority of the population are Arabs. Ahvaz is the fourth largest city in Iran, after Tehran, Mashhad and Tabriz. There are many palm trees growing in Ahvaz. One of the main attractions of Ahvaz is the bridges over the Karun River, the largest in Iran.