Iran has dismissed the head of the Revolutionary Guards Corp's Intelligence Service, Iranian state TV reported on Thursday, just several hours after Turkish media announced that police in Istanbul detained Iranian citizens under suspicion of plotting attacks against Israeli diplomats and tour groups.
Hossein Taeb has instead been appointed as an advisor to Guards Commander-in-Chief Hossein Salami, with no clear reason cited for his dismissal. However, Taeb was under pressure from within the Revolutionary Guards due to his failures to prevent a series of attacks targeting nuclear scientists within Iran in recents weeks.
According to reports, Taeb will be replaced by Mohammad Kazemi, previously head of the Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Protection unit.
- Turkey reportedly detains Iranian agents plotting attacks on former Israeli diplomat, wife
- Israel keeping U.S. in the dark about Iran attacks, report says
- 'Mossad agents planning to assassinate nuclear scientists arrested,' Iran claims
No further details were given about the dismissal of Taeb, who before becoming Intelligence Chief in 2009 worked at the office of Iran's top authority, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Earlier this month, Israel issued the highest travel warning for Istanbul and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called on Israelis to avoid traveling to Turkey. Those currently in Istanbul were encouraged to leave as quickly as possible. A mid-level travel warning has been issued for the rest of the country, urging Israelis to avoid non-essential trips.
Last Friday, nearly ten suspects, including Iranian intelligence agents and Revolutionary Guards disguised as students and businesspeople, were detained in a police operation after local intelligence agencies had received a tip that Iranian agents and local collaborators were plotting numerous kidnappings and attacks on Israeli targets, including a former Israeli ambassador and his wife.
The suspects, who were not all Iranian nationals, were detained in a raid last week in three houses in Istanbul's popular Beyoglu district, the Ihlas News Agency (IHA) reported.
Additionally, IHA reported that the suspects were divided into four teams, with two assassins assigned to each team. "The hitmen were found in two different hotel rooms – one on the second floor and one of the fourth – with a large amount of weapons," according to the report.
Israel's National Security Council had initially revised its travel warning to Turkey back in late May amid Iranian threats of retaliation following the assassination of Iranian Colonel Hassan Sayyad Khodaei. Iran has attributed the killing of Khodaei, a senior member of Iran's Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force, to Israel.