On January 2nd, U.S. Defence Secretary Mark T. Esper, following the U.S. airstrike assassination of Gen. Qaseem Soleimani, stated that “the game has changed.” This is true as the airstrike marked a shift in a proxy war between Washington and Iran and escalated to direct military action between the two.

The following ballistic missile attacks on U.S. bases signify a further escalation. Prior to this, using proxy forces, Iran had repeatedly targeted Western and Israeli assets in the region.

A lesser-known development has been the establishment of terror cells in Africa under the direction of Gen. Qaseem Soleimani. If there was ever a time these cells are to become active, following the aforementioned major and dangerous escalation, that time has likely come.

Resorting to terror tactics by Iranian proxies is not unprecedented in Africa. In 1998, the U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania killed 224 and injured over 4,000. While the attacks were carried out under the direction of al-Qaeda, Iran had had a hand in the event. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia stated that the bombings were made possible with “direct assistance” by Tehran and Sudan. Iranian proxies, via Hezbollah, educated and directed assistance to al-Qaeda regarding the detonation of large, sophisticated bombs. Hezbollah’s 1983 Beirut Marine barracks bombing had been viewed as an example of a successful attack.

In 2015, Kenyan authorities arrested two terror suspects with alleged links to Iran’s Quds Force. One suspect admitted they had been plotting to attack Western targets. Previously in 2012, two Iranians were arrested and charged for planning a terror attack, leading to the discovery of 15 kilograms of RDX explosives. There are many Israeli hotels in Kenya. Thus, such an amount of explosive material, operated by highly trained personnel, could have resulted in a devastating attack.


Following the signing of the 2015 nuclear deal, through the orders of Soleimani, a terror cell network was set up by the specialized section (Unit 400) of the Quds Force run by Hamed Abdollahi. The cells themselves are allegedly run by Ali Parhoon, another prominent member in the Quds Force. This revelation was uncovered last April after arrests.

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