The specific operations carried out by Israel include attacks targeting Iran’s military and nuclear facilities. The assassination operations targeting members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), leaders of Hezbollah, Hamas and other militias affiliated with Tehran’s leadership are ‘outrageous’ in nature. The latest of these assassination operations was the killing of Sadeq Umidzadeh, the intelligence officer of the Quds Force in Syria, his deputy and two other members of the IRGC in Damascus by an Israeli bombardment. According to the American Washington Post, the fact that the Iranian officials killed in the Mezzeh neighborhood were the masterminds of the attacks on American forces raises the following questions: Are Iranian security forces and the IRGC suffering from intelligence leaks? Is the Mossad using Iranian agents to achieve its goals?
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In June 2021, former Iranian Intelligence Minister Ali Yunousi warned that the infiltration of Israeli intelligence into Iran had reached a point where all Iranian officials should fear for their lives.
Yunusi, who served as the Minister of Intelligence in the government of former President Mohammad Khatami (1998-2005), said, “After my ministry, parallel activities in the Ministry of Intelligence due to the competition of intelligence services and new organizations created against the Ministry of Intelligence weakened the ministry.” Yunusi continued his remarks as follows:
The neglect of the Mossad led to this infiltration and attack. So much so that the Mossad was openly threatening regime officials in Iran.
This is not the first time an Iranian official has warned of Mossad infiltration activities. Hossein Alai, a former commander of the IRGC, was the first to draw attention to this issue, and these warnings were later repeated by former IRGC commander Mohsen Ridai and former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
According to the Iran Wire website at the time, this demonstrated Israel’s extensive penetration of the Ansar Protection Units, which are tasked with protecting Iranian officials. At the same time, according to the website, at different times, some of the bodyguards of Iranian officials fled to the United States. According to the website, the US and Israel may have managed to establish a network within the Ansar Protection Units.
In an interview with the press, former Iranian President Ahmadinejad said that he had “learned that an external espionage official in Iranian intelligence had himself been spying for Israel,” referring to an incident previously undisclosed by the Tehran government, which at the time highlighted the existence of widespread and organized security infiltration within the Ministry of Intelligence and other institutions working in the nuclear and missile fields.
Ahmadinejad explained that the documents belonging to the Iranian Space Agency were found in a cabinet in the president’s office and that Mossad agents “made a hole in the ceiling, entered, opened the cabinet, took all the documents, and then the security authorities remained silent about the theft of the most important nuclear documents in the country.”
Israel rarely comments on the activities of the Mossad. But there is a good reason for this, Amos Gilad, a retired Israeli army general and former Defense Ministry official, was quoted by the BBC in February 2022:
I am against propaganda of any kind. If you want to shoot, shoot without making a fuss about it. The Mossad’s reputation depends on its ability to carry out covert operations without publicity.
Who works in Tel Aviv?
On November 27, 2020, Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated in Demavand, east of Tehran. From the first moment, confusion about the operation in the Iranian security and media institutions was evident. Responsibility for the failure to protect Fakhrizadeh, the so-called “father of the Iranian nuclear bomb”, has been attributed.
The assassination on Iranian soil has been met with a wave of domestic outrage. Angry protests took place on the streets of Tehran condemning the incident and demanding a ‘swift response’. Many Iranians blamed the security authorities. “At a time when the intelligence and security services are busy repressing students, feminist activists, journalists and people with different opinions, nuclear scientists are being assassinated on the street in broad daylight,” some social media users wrote.
At the beginning of 2020, Iranian security services failed to prevent many incidents. There was no information about what kind of plan was prepared for Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force, the ‘shadow man’ who was assassinated on January 3 of the same year. It is known that Soleimani and Fakhrizadeh lived a secret life. After the assassination, the contradiction between the statements of Iranian officials became apparent. The official statement was made a few days later by Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council. The assassination was “a complex operation using electronic devices and no one was present at the scene.”
As Mehr News Agency reported at the time, Deputy Commander of the IRGC Ali Fadavi pointed out:
The assassination was carried out with a machine gun using artificial intelligence controlled via satellites and the internet. There were no terrorists on the scene.
A New York Times report dated November 27th of the same year noted that the contradiction meant ‘tension within the government’ and explained that.
Both sides are trying to avoid taking responsibility. The sense of humiliation that Fahrizadeh’s murder shook the regime has led it to rewrite the incident and spin it like a science fiction novel. They said Israel killed him using a remote control or a guided machine gun that fired a barrage of bullets at the scientist’s car without any of the attackers being present.
The same American newspaper quoted three intelligence officials as confirming that “Israel was behind Fakhrizadeh’s assassination.”
In the heart of Tehran
At a press conference in May 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu presented documents that the Israeli intelligence service had obtained in Iran and brought to Israel. At the time, he mentioned important details about Iran’s nuclear program and said, “Remember this name: Fahrizade”.
According to Israeli data, Fakhrizadeh was directing his country’s military nuclear program under the name al-Amel at the turn of the new millennium. In an article published on December 4, 2020, titled The Fahrizade File, Ronen Bergman, an intelligence affairs analyst for Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, stated that the Mossad obtained more than 55,000 pages of classified documents in Tehran during its operation in 2018. He pointed out that Mossad agents used special devices to open several tightly sealed safes in a fortified location where the documents could not be accessed without the help of insiders. He stressed that Israeli intelligence had been following the activities of the Iranian nuclear physicist since 1993, when he took the first steps towards a nuclear program.
In an analysis published at the time, the British newspaper The Times described the Mossad operation in the heart of Tehran as “a scandal for the Iranian security services, especially the IRGC Intelligence Organization, which is responsible for the military part of the Iranian nuclear program and employs people from its own narrow circle.”
“Intelligence officials describe the assassination of the Iranian scientist as the culmination of a Mossad project to destroy Iran’s nuclear program,” the analysis said. It pointed to the widespread belief that Mossad efforts have been ongoing for more than a decade and have included assassinations and bombings in broad daylight on the streets of Tehran. The analysis also cited the ingenious insertion of the Stuxnet virus into operating systems in secret uranium enrichment laboratories using an innocent-looking data drive. Even before the extraordinary accounts of the ambush in which Fakhrizadeh was assassinated emerged, the success of the operation was “celebrated as a masterpiece of planning”.
Between 2010 and 2012, three of the four Iranian nuclear scientists (Masoud Mohammadi, Majid Shahriyari, Dervish Rezainajad and Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan) were assassinated and killed in Tehran using magnetic bombs. The fourth was shot in front of his home. Iranian officials have accused both Israel and the United States of being behind these operations. Israel refused to comment on the accusations, but former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yalon issued the following statement:
“Under no circumstances can Israel accept Iran having nuclear weapons. We would prefer it to be done through an agreement or sanctions, but Israel will defend itself against any threat.”
Iran and Israel have often engaged in a covert conflict, or what is known as a ‘shadow war’. They have quietly attacked each other on land, in the air and at sea, sometimes through proxy forces. According to a January 2023 analysis in the Washington Post, both sides have tried to “avoid open confrontations that risk escalating into all-out war”. Recently, however, the clashes have become ‘more overt’, according to the American newspaper.
In the aftermath of the war between Lebanon and Israel in July 2006, Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies published in late 2007 a 96-page study by Danny Berkovic, a researcher on Lebanese and Syrian affairs at the institute, entitled ‘Is it Possible to Cut Hydra’s Heads Off? The study sought to answer the following basic question: How can Hezbollah be weakened? He likened it to the Hydra, a mythical creature from Greek mythology, closer to a snake or dragon. In short, when the legendary warrior Hercules faced this mythical serpent, each time he cut off a head of this nine-headed savage beast, two heads would grow back. As the heads multiplied, the power of evil doubled, so its danger increased and it became harder to eradicate.
In putting forward his theory, Berkovic believes that just as it is impossible to get rid of the heads of this creature, it will be impossible to uproot or eradicate it. However, there are various strategies that could weaken it if Israel (including the United States) were to pursue them. At the time, the study made several proposals to weaken Hezbollah and exclude it from the regional arena. It also emphasized that this should be accelerated as time is of the essence.
The Hydra theory coincided with the theory explained by former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in a conversation with the British magazine The Economist in June 2022:
Tel Aviv is adopting a new equation in the region by implementing the Octopus Doctrine, which directly targets Iran.
Referring to the ‘shadow war’ Israel has been waging against Iran for nearly 40 years, Bennett said at the time, “We are implementing the Octopus Doctrine. We are no longer dealing with the arms, Iran’s proxy forces. We have created a new equation by targeting upwards.”
Bennett pointed out that Iran’s proxy forces in the region are Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, which Tehran supports. Amos Yadlin, the former head of Israel’s Military Intelligence Agency, confirmed that the Iranians are leading five fronts and that tensions are rising on all of them. At the same time, Channel 12 quoted Yadlin as saying:
There is no doubt that Iran has a great desire for revenge. It has tried to take revenge in the same way in the past. It has tried to harm Israeli scientists and military personnel. Today every Israeli and perhaps every Jew is its target.
Translated from Independent Arabai