Iran raises security issues
As relations between Israel and Iran continue to deteriorate, concerns that Jewish institutions in America may be at risk have emerged. Nuclear tensions between the two Middle Eastern countries escalated Monday afternoon with the bombing of an Israeli embassy van in New Delhi, India and the attempted bombing of another embassy vehicle in Tbilisi, Georgia. While Brandeis officials report that there is no immediate threat to the University, the Department of Public Safety continues to work with local and federal law enforcement to monitor the situation.
"We don't have any credible threat that is specific to Massachusetts or Brandeis," said Senior Vice President for Communications and External Affairs Andrew Gully in an interview with the Justice. However, "[Director of Public Safety] Ed Callahan is routinely in touch with law enforcement agencies at all levels," he said.
Callahan confirmed in an email to the Justice that he maintains communication with unspecified intelligence agencies and has received information on the matter that "reiterates tensions in the Mideast and outlines being cognizant of the situation at this time."
"Our lives were all changed after 9/11 and we must be aware of suspicious occurrences," he added. He encouraged students to report any concerns to the Department of Public Safety for review.
Because of America's strong ties with Israel and its involvement in diplomacy in the region, the U.S. State Department recently issued a security alert warning of heightened risk to American "soft targets," including Jewish institutions, according to a Feb. 7 Boston Herald article.
Boston police have stepped up patrols at the Back Bay Israeli consulate and "other prominent Jewish locations in the city" in response to the potential security risk, said the article.
It is still unclear who is responsible for Monday's bombings, which injured four, according to a Feb. 13 CNN report. The Israeli government points to Iran as the source, while Iranian officials claim that Israel carried out the attacks with the intention of blaming Iran.
The bombings come as Israel contemplates a military strike on Iran, citing concerns about the progression of its nuclear program. This concern stems from an Iranian plan to move nuclear development projects to an impenetrable underground facility, which would secure the eventual development of "bomb-grade fuel," the New York Times reported in a Feb. 8 article.
The People's Mujahedin of Iran, an Iranian rebel group which is reputed to be trained by the Israeli secret service, has already carried out several attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists, killing four since 2007, NBC News reported in a Feb. 9 story. The most recent strike occurred Jan. 11 in Tehran.
The United States recently stepped into negotiations in an effort to attempt to persuade the Israeli government to postpone action. Economic sanctions, including import bans on Iranian oil, could stall the progress of Iran's uranium enrichment, U.S. officials argue. The European Union has agreed to oil sanctions starting in July.
Explicit threats from Iran have mentioned U.S. bases in the Gulf area. "Thousands of our missiles will target Israel and the 40 bases of America in the region" if an Israeli attack occurs, said an Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander in a statement released by Fars news agency.
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