Iranian journalist stabbed outside his London home

A prominent British-based Iranian journalist has been stabbed multiple times outside his London home.

Pouria Zeraati, who hosts a show on the Persian language television network Iran International, was attacked by two people as he left his home on Friday afternoon.

The Telegraph understands he was heading to work at around 3.15pm when he was approached by a man outside his house in south-west London.

The man attempted to engage him in conversation before another suspect came up behind him and began slashing him with a knife.

The two attackers then went off in a waiting car nearby, which was being driven by a third suspect.

Mr Zeraati, who is married, suffered multiple stab wounds and was rushed to hospital where he was said to be in a stable condition.

Counter terrorism police are leading the investigation into the incident.

The Met Police said this was because of the victim’s occupation as a journalist at a Persian-language media organisation based in the UK, coupled with the fact that there has been a number of threats directed towards this group of journalists in recent times.

On Friday night, the Met Police said in a statement: “An investigation has been launched following a stabbing in south London.

“Police were called at 14:49hrs on Friday, 29 March to an address in south London after a man in his 30s was attacked and sustained an injury to his leg.

“London Ambulance Service paramedics attended with police and the man was treated before being taken to hospital. Thankfully his condition is not believed to be life-threatening.

“There have been no arrests at this time.

“Anyone who has information that could assist officers should call 101 or post @‌MetCC ref CAD 3834/29 Mar.”

While the motive for the attack remains unclear, it is understood that MI5 have been made aware.

Assassination plot uncovered

Earlier this year, it was revealed that UK counter-terrorism police had foiled 15 plots linked to Iran, with journalists who are critical of the regime in Tehran among those reportedly targeted.

Iran International has previously been declared a “terrorist organisation” by the Iranian government and, in December, it was reported that detectives had uncovered a plot by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) to assassinate two journalists in London.

The Iranian regime had allegedly plotted a knife ambush at the homes of Sima Sabet and Fardad Farahzad but it was foiled when one of the hired assassins double-crossed the state.

It was reported that a people smuggler was offered more than £150,000 to murder the journalists who were critical of Tehran.

It is believed the knife plot was a back-up scheme after the initial idea of a car bomb outside the TV studio was foiled by the presence of heavy security.

In December, Austrian national Magomed-Husejn Dovtaev, who was born in Chechnya, was found guilty of spying on the network’s west London headquarters.

‘Only a matter of time’

Following his conviction, Commander Dominic Murphy, Head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said police were “very alive to the threat posed by Iran”.

Mr Murphy said: “While we are keeping an open mind, given the occupation of the victim and our publicised concerns about the threat to employees of that organisation, the investigation is being led by the Counter Terrorism Command.

“I appreciate the wider concern this incident may cause – particularly amongst others in similar lines of work, and those from Iranian communities. We continue to work closely with the victim’s organisation and as a precaution we’ll have additional patrols in the Wimbledon area as well as other sites around London to provide reassurance over the coming days to those affected and concerned.

“I would urge anyone in the Wimbledon area who may have seen anything or anyone acting suspiciously today to get in touch with us.”

A new unit has also been set up within Scotland Yard to tackle threats posed by hostile states including Iran.

Gabriel Noronha, a former US advisor on Iran, said “it was only a matter of time” before US or UK targets were hit by Iranian assassins.

Michelle Stanistreet, the general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, 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.

“It is too early to know whether this violent assault is connected to the escalating intimidation and harassment by Iran, including the plot to assassinate journalists Fardad Farahzad and Sima Sabet in 2022.

“However, this brutal stabbing will inevitably raise fears amongst the many journalists targeted at Iran International and the BBC Persian Service that they are not safe at home or going about their work.”

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