IN JANUARY 2010, the Qods Force-the elite unit of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)- decided that it and Hizballah, its primary terrorist proxy, would embark on a new campaign of violence targeting not only Israel but U.S. and other Western targets as well. Since then, the two organizations have been cooperating but also competing to launch attacks across the globe. What is particularly striking is how amateurish the actions of both organizations have been: targets were poorly chosen and assaults carried out with gross incompetence. But as the groups brush off the cobwebs and professionalize their operations, this sloppy tradecraft could quickly be replaced by operational success. Indeed, one particularly odd effort might have succeeded were it not for the fortuitous placement of an undercover U.S. government informant: the case of an Iranian-American used-car salesman who pleaded guilty in October 2012 to conspiring with Iranian agents to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States.

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