London: ‘Given Iran’s seizure of the UK oil tanker, if they were to take retaliatory action against Iran, Tehran would carry out terror attacks across the country using sleeper cells in Europe,’ the UK intelligence agencies warned. A UK official expressed the concern pointing out that a large number of sleeper cells of the Iran-backed Hezbollah were operating in Europe. Given the rising tensions with Tehran, British Prime Minister Theresa May has called for an emergency meeting of a special British security unit.
With the help of helicopters and patrol vessels, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) had seized a British oil tanker, Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz. Both, the UK security and intelligence services, MI5 and MI6, expressed severe concerns over the matter. The services believe the third-largest threat to UK security, after Russia and China, is Iran. An official connected with the intelligence agency said in an interview with the British newspaper that Iran’s threat could not be ignored.
In 2015, the UK security agencies had busted a racket of sleeper cells linked to Iran in a raid on a London house. A large cache of explosives belonging to the Iran-affiliated terrorist organisation, Hezbollah were seized in the bust. The concerned official highlighted that the Hezbollah terror network was not restricted only to the United Kingdom but was spread all over Europe. Under such circumstances, if the UK took retaliatory measures for the seizure of their tanker, Iran would use the sleeper cells to strike terror across the nation, the official warned.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have released footage of the IRGC soldiers landing on the UK oil tanker from a helicopter and unfurling the Iranian flag on the ship. Prime Minister Theresa May has called for a meeting of the Government’s emergency committee ‘Cobra’ on Monday to discuss the Iranian act. Government sources say the meeting would deliberate upon the plan of action for the release of the UK vessel.
Meanwhile, the IRGC’s hijack of the UK tanker in the Persian Gulf in broad daylight is a matter of concern. Moreover, Saudi Arabia has appealed to the international community to take cognisance of the move and adopt a firm stance against the Islamic Republic.