German police recently arrested a Pakistani man and accused him of spying for Iran and seeking to gather information on pro-Israel Germans targeted for assassination by Iranian agents. German intelligence analysts believe this is part of a larger program to go after pro-Israel locals in several European countries. Iran is apparently preparing for the possibility that Israel might bomb Iranian nuclear weapons facilities. If that did happen Iran would have limited ways to retaliate effectively. Attacking Israel with ballistic missiles might just increase the degree of humiliation of Israeli anti-missile systems shot down those missiles. Ordering Hezbollah to launch another large scale rocket attack on Israel could also backfire. But assassination for pro-Israeli foreigners would send a message that Iran could plausibly deny.
Iran has had more success with this use of attacks it could deny responsibility for. Since 1975 over 150 assassinations in foreign countries of “Iranian enemies” have been traced back to Iran and as recently as the 1990s some of the Iranians involved openly boasted of these attacks. Iran has been blamed for several other major terror attacks that were blamed on someone else and these “deniable attacks” are an ancient practice by Iranian governments.
Iran is particularly eager to strike at Israeli interests because Israel has an even more impressive record of tracking down and killing those responsible for attacks on Israelis in other parts of the world. Iran believes that Israel is behind the recent deaths (some obviously murder) of several key Iranian technical experts associate with nuclear and weapons development. As a result of this covert war between Israel and Iran there have been a growing number of efforts by Iran to establish agent networks in Asia, South America and Europe so that it can carry out more deniable attacks. Numerous failures in this area has apparently made Iran even more determined to succeed.
The current case is, however, the first known instance of a German politician being targeting. Iranian backed assassinations have occurred in Germany before, but these were all Iranians opposed to the religious dictatorship that has run Iran since the 1980s. But now Iran sees Germany as a better place to operate because of the large number of Moslem illegal migrants the Germans have let in as well as the German legal system apparently being more tolerant to anti-Israel terrorism than many other Western nations.