Peru arrests an Iranian man accused of planning an attack on an Israeli citizen

Officers escort Iranian Majid Azizi at police headquarters in Lima, Peru, Friday, March 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Manuel Castillo)

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Police in Peru announced the arrest Friday of an Iranian citizen who was purportedly a member of Iran's Quds Force and allegedly planned to kill an Israeli citizen in the South American country.

Gen. Óscar Arriola, Peru's police chief, said in a press conference that Majid Azizi, 56, was arrested Thursday in Lima, along with two Peruvian citizens.

Arriola said authorities thwarted the attack against the Israeli. He did not identify the intended target for security reasons. Police are still looking for a third Peruvian they think was in charge of the plot to kill the Israeli man, he said.

Arriola said Azizi entered Lima on March 3, and they were alerted about him by foreign intelligence offices.

The Associated Press couldn't independently confirm whether Azizi is a member of the Quds Force. Iranian authorities did not comment, and Iranian state media did not acknowledge the arrest early Saturday.

Iran has run intelligence operations in South America in the past, particularly through the expeditionary Quds, or Jerusalem, Force of its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.

Iran maintains close ties to Venezuela. The Quds Force was linked to an impounded Boeing 747 in Argentina and later seized by the United States. And most notoriously, Argentina believes Iran was behind the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center that killed 85 people.

This is the first time Peruvian authorities have announced the arrest of an alleged member of that group.

Arriola said Azizi was captured after withdrawing money from an ATM and, along with the two Peruvians arrested, will remain in prison for an initial 15 days under terrorism charges.

The general said the man intended to return to Iran the same day he was captured.

Azizi is married to a Peruvian woman, he added.