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Source: Iranintl

Mar 29, 2024

Iran International TV Host Stabbed in London Attack

By Iran International Newsroom

Pouria Zeraati, the television host of the "Last Word" program on Iran International, was attacked by a group of unidentified individuals as he exited his residence in London on Friday.

Zeraati suffered knife wounds across multiple parts of his body. He is in stable condition, but remains hospitalized. The Metropolitan Police in London are conducting an investigation into the incident.

While the motive is unclear, the attack comes just a few months after a plot by the Iranian regime to kill 2 other Iran International journalists was revealed.

A spokesman for Scotland Yard confirmed they were aware of the incident and were investigating. Although the motive for the attack remains unclear, it is understood that MI5 have been made aware.

Iran International’s journalists have long been a target by the regime for their coverage of Iran, and the platform it provides to critics and human rights activists.

In November 2022, the London Police provided protection to Iran International’s offices, acting upon credible intelligence about real threats against two of its journalists based in London.

In early 2023, the network had to temporarily shut down operations in London and move its broadcasting studios to Washington DC. In September of that year, operations resumed at a new location in London.

A man surveilling the previous London office was arrested by the police in February 2023. The Central Criminal Court of England sentenced him in December for gathering information on Iran International's London headquarters to 3.5 years behind bars.

A frame of the footage released by UK police showing Magomed-Husejn Dovtaev gathering intel on Iran International's former headquarters

Originally from Chechnya but residing in Austria, Magomed-Husejn Dovtaev (Mohammad-Hussein Dovtaev) was detained at Chiswick Business Park by officers from London’s Metropolitan Police Counter-Terrorism Command. He was charged with a single count of attempting to collect information "likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism." The jury court returned a guilty verdict for him.

UK's National Union of Journalists condemned the attack on Zeraati. In a statement issued shortly after the incident was reported the group said, “This cowardly attack on Pouria is deeply shocking, and our thoughts are with him, his family and all of his colleagues at Iran International. We hope he makes a swift recovery."

In December 2023, UK’s ITV revealed that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) was plotting to assassinate two Iran International television anchors in London in 2022 amid Iranian anti-government protests.

The plan was foiled because the man hired to do the job turned out to be a ‘double-agent’ working for a western intelligence agency. He would relay all information to his handler, but then shared some details with ITV.

Based on irrefutable evidence – seen and verified by ITV and multiple officials– the plot was commissioned and signed off by Mohammad Reza Ansari, the IRGC commander in charge of assassinations outside Iran.

Ansari is the ‘mastermind’ behind failed plots to assassinate former US officials Mike Pompeo and John Bolton –for which he’s been sanctioned by the US treasury. He is based in Syria and is reported to have links with the family of the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

According to ITV, Ansari hired and directed the hitman (Ismail) through another Assad associate, Mohammad Abd al-Razek Kanafani, requiring him first to use a car bomb and then a ‘quiet’ way to kill his targets: “simply stab [them] with a kitchen knife.”

The plot was cynically codenamed the “wedding”. The targets, Sima Sabet and Fardad Farahzad, were “bride” and “groom”. They did not know about the details of the plot until told by ITV during the making of the report.

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