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What we know about alleged Iran plot to attack Israeli citizen in Peru

Peruvian police said a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps planned to murder an Israeli in the South American country. Iran and Hezbollah have been previously linked to attacks against Jewish and Israeli targets on the continent.
Image released by Peruvian police shows suspected Iranian-Peruvian citizen named Majid Azizi.

An Iranian suspect has been arrested in Peru for allegedly planning to kill an Israeli citizen, Peruvian police confirmed on Friday, in another indication of increased Iranian activity in South America.

The National Police of Peru said in a post on X that its counterterrorism unit, Dircote, arrested an Iranian member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) along with a Peruvian accomplice in its capital, Lima. The two had been planning to murder an Israeli citizen, according to the police.

Peru's chief of police, Oscar Arriola, said at a press conference that a dual Iranian-Peruvian citizen named Majid Azizi and an accomplice were plotting to kill an Israeli at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, Reuters reported. 

APEC is an intergovernmental forum that promotes trade between countries in Asia and the Pacific Ocean. Its current round of meetings is scheduled to end on Friday in Lima, with another set to begin in the city of Arequipa in May, according to its website.

The Iranian and Israeli governments did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Why it matters: The Iranian government and its proxies have been accused of plotting attacks in South America several times in the past, including in Peru. In 2014, Peruvian authorities arrested a Lebanese man named Muhammad Ghaleb Hamdar, accusing him of belonging to Hezbollah and possibly plotting a bomb attack. Hamdar denied any connection to the group and said his confession was coerced, Reuters reported at the time. 

In November of last year, Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, and Brazil thwarted a Hezbollah attack in the country.

Argentina additionally blames Iran and Hezbollah for the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people, as well as the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy in the city in which 29 were killed. 

Iran and Hezbollah have both denied responsibility for the 1994 bombing. An affiliated Lebanese group known as the Islamic Jihad Organization took credit for the 1992 attack.

Hezbollah’s activities in South America include money laundering, piracy and drug trafficking, and the group is particularly active along the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, according to a December report from the Wilson Center.

“For decades, the Tri-Border Area of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay has been the hub of Iranian and Hezbollah activity in Latin America, capitalizing on large Lebanese and Shiite diaspora communities,” read the report.

Know more: US prosecutors announced charges against a Lebanese-Colombian citizen in December in relation to the Jewish community center attack in Argentina. Samuel Salman El Reda allegedly worked with Hezbollah to execute the bombing and was charged with a variety of terrorism offenses, according to the US Attorney’s Office.