IRGC threatened to kill my wife before stabbing me

Iranian journalist Pouria Zeraati who was stabbed outside his London home in Wimbledon
Iranian journalist Pouria Zeraati, who was stabbed outside his home in Wimbledon, south-west London - Paul Grover/Telegraph

At first, I thought I was being robbed. That was before I realised I hadn’t had anything stolen.

The man acting suspiciously before me on the street asked me if I had £3 in change.

Suddenly, another man was holding me incredibly tight. In a moment, the first man stabbed me four times in my right leg.

They fled in the afternoon daylight. But they left behind my watch, my wallet, my AirPods and my smartphone, which I used to call the police.

I was sitting on the pavement near my car outside the home I share with my wife on a quiet road in Wimbledon, London.

The trouser on my right leg, which I could not move, was turning a dark red. Soon it and my shoes would be soaked in blood.

Then it clicked. This was not a particularly brutal mugging. It wasn’t a random attempted murder by a pair of psychopaths either. I was held helpless. He could have stabbed me anywhere – the heart, the brain, the throat – instead the knife went into my leg.

Pouria Zeraati recovering in his hospital bed after the stabbing
Pouria Zeraati recovering in his hospital bed after the stabbing - Unpixs

It was a message from the repressive regime that rules Iran; a warning.

Later I learned that both men had got into a waiting blue Mazda and sped off. The three suspects, including the driver, left Britain soon afterwards.

There are reports they could have been Eastern European criminal thugs hired for the job by Tehran.

My name is Pouria Zeraati. I am a presenter on Iran International, a TV station broadcasting from Britain to Iran and the Middle East.

On March 29, I thought I was going to die on the streets of London; a British-Iranian murdered on the orders of a regime that cannot tolerate independent voices in the media or alternate points of view.

A 36-year-old husband who would not be able to start the family he dreamt of with his wife.

I remember the ambulance and police arriving, as I felt dizzier and dizzier. A neighbour had called my wife, Oldouz Rezvani, who was out.

‘I’d lost a lot of blood’

Oldouz arrived in a taxi. She was terrified when she saw the state her blood-soaked husband was in.

I’d lost a lot of blood. At the hospital, I was drifting close to unconsciousness but knew a series of scans would reveal if my life was in the balance.

Mercifully, scans showed that nothing vital had been severed. I needed surgery but I would live and, physically, I’m feeling better every day.

But other scars take longer to heal.

In the months that followed, I have had plenty of time for reflection in my new life under 24-hour police protection and in a safehouse.

It isn’t glamorous like in the films. I miss seeing my friends, going out, shopping, doing things at the drop of a hat.

I am still broadcasting my show but precautions, which I can’t detail here for obvious reasons, have to be taken. But I won’t be intimidated.

I’ve long been used to threats on social media. They’ve increased since the nationwide protests against the compulsory wearing of the hijab shook the regime.

Threats at fever pitch

After I interviewed Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, in his first-ever interview with an Iranian platform in March last year, the threats hit a fever pitch.

It is not the first time Tehran has sent me, or my colleagues at Iran International, a warning.

In 2022, my wife, who is Iranian but not a journalist, was confronted by men in broad daylight in London.

They told her in Farsi that they knew where we lived and were coming for us both.

ITV has revealed plans by Iran and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to assassinate two of our presenters.

Even so, I never seriously thought that the IRGC would go so far as to attack a British national on the streets of the UK.

The truth is that this is not an attack on just me. Or should I say, only me. It’s an attack on journalism; it’s an attack on those wanting a free Iran; it’s an attack on our channel, which is very popular in Iran.

It is also an attack on a British citizen on British soil and an attack on the values of a country that has been my home since I moved here in 2007 to study.

The Government needs to understand that. And I personally believe it needs to proscribe the IRGC as a terrorist organisation, as the US has done.

‘Western civilisation is in danger’

Sanctions have been imposed against this group in the past but they clearly have not worked.

The whole of Western civilisation is in danger because of the threat the IRGC poses.

Now, proscribing the group as a terrorist organisation probably won’t change that but it will give government officials the power and legal base to take action to stop them promoting their ideology here in the UK.

It will also send a clear message to the regime in Iran that enough is enough. In the US, it has helped to cut off some of the IRGC’s funding and it will help prevent some of their hostile activities outside of Iran.

I hear the arguments that this should not be done so Britain can maintain its embassy in Tehran and direct contact with the regime.

But what has been the effect of having direct talks with the Iranian regime? Has it been effective? No.

Look now at what is happening between Iran and Israel. It’s my personal opinion that Iran is an extremist regime whose best friend is Vladimir Putin and which oppresses its own people.

Look at the protests, which continue. I think Iranians and Israelis have a common enemy – the Islamic Republic. Proscribing the IRGC will tell the majority of Iranians who are fighting against the regime that Britain is on their side.

I have no doubt that one day Iran will be free again. We have a civilisation that has lasted for at least 7,000 years of recorded history.

This theocratic regime has only been around for 45 years and it has failed to suppress Iran’s true culture.

There is an Iranian saying – light will overcome the darkness.

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