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An Iranian man on trial for an arson attack on a Jewish school in the German city of Bochum that was allegedly orchestrated by the Iranian regime, according to the German authorities, has denied being motivated by antisemitism.

The 36-year-old defendant, who was identified as “Babak. J” in earlier reports of the case, is a dual German-Iranian citizen who told the Dusseldorf Higher Regional Court on Friday that he “rejects” antisemitism.

“I believe in an Islam that unites, instead of dividing,” the defendant told the court.

The opening of the trial highlights a murky case that seemingly involves the Iranian regime and a leader of the Hell’s Angels biker gang in a series of attacks against Jewish institutions in Germany last November.

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September 22, 2023 6:19 am

As well as the school in Bochum, which suffered minor damage after the defendant allegedly threw a Molotov cocktail at the building, shots were fired at the Old Synagogue in Essen, and an attempted arson attack was recorded at a synagogue in Dortmund by another assailant allegedly recruited by the defendant.

The defendant in the Bochum case told the court that he had immigrated from Iran to Germany with his parents at the age of three. He grew up in Dortmund, where he became an executive with a telecommunications company while purchasing several apartments around the city.

The defendant — who has been held in custody for the previous 10 months — is suspected by police of having close links with Ramin Yektaparast, the founder of the Hell’s Angels chapter in the city of Mönchengladbach. Yektaparast is understood to have fled to Iran in 2021 to escape trial for the brutal murder and dismemberment of another member of the gang, named as Kai M., in 2014, according to German media reports.

German investigators believe that Yektaparast is affiliated with the operations in Germany of the Iranian regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), a US-designated terrorist organization. As well as the attacks on Jewish institutions, investigators reportedly discovered a credible plot to target Josef Schuster, the president of the Central Council of German Jews.

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