Last Tuesday, the Iranian citizen Said Ansari Firouz was killed near Rome by his conational Foloty Cave, who then turned the gun on himself. The official motive was debt, but police are now focussing on international arms trafficking.
According to Il Messaggero, who had access to the investigation’s papers, Mr Firouz was tasked with supplying the Iranian regime with high-autonomy dual use drones (which can be made to drop bombs) and several types of firearms, including assault and sniper rifles as well as machine guns.
The son of a former Iranian ambassador to Rome, Mr Firouz allegedly operated from Italy as a middleman, linking demand to supplies. He moved within an intricate network comprising of intelligence operatives and spies from Tehran, the Calabrese mafia and Dubai-based businessmen.
Reportedly, he had tried to broker two arm deals in the past years. One of them, foiled in 2017 by a Roman antiterrorism division, was worth €300 million. He was often in Rome, participating in negotiations for the purchase of military equipment, according to Il Messaggero.
Mr Firouz, 68, was being closely monitored by Roman authorities, who were also onto Safarian Nasab Esmail, under investigation until last year for international trafficking. The two had met in London in 2016.
A few days prior to his killing, Mr Firouz had received a notice of inquiry from the authorities, along with nine others. An arrest warrant had been issued for his killer a year ago, on charges of drug trafficking.
This is not the first time such spy stories have unfolded in Rome. This summer Formiche.net reported on the story of Danial Kassrae, allegedly an Iranian operative tied to the opposition group MEK, who was expelled by Albania and is now believed to be at large in Italy.
Four persons were investigated in 2017, in relation to international weaponry trafficking in embargoed countries such as Libya and Iran between 2011 and 2016.
Three of them were Italians, including a couple hailing from San Giorgio a Cremano: Mario Di Leva (who converted to Islam under the name of Jafaar) and Annamaria Fontana, former town assessor. Investigations yielded a picture of the two together with former Iranian PM Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Back in 2010, tensions erupted between Italy and Iran when two Iranians were held by Italian authorities during a crackdown on a weapons trafficking operation towards the Islamic Republic.
Both Mr Kassrae and Nejad Hamid Masoumi, one of the two Iranian men arrested and then released after a few weeks in 2010, were registered as foreign journalists and were known to work in Rome.