Turkey Reportedly Detains Iranian Agents Plotting Attacks on Former Israeli Ambassador, Wife

Nearly ten suspects were arrested in an operation in Istanbul last week, including Iranian agents disguised as students and businesspeople, ahead of Foreign Minister Yair Lapid's visit to the country

Turkish police in Istanbul, last week.
Turkish police in Istanbul, last week.Credit: Yasin AKGUL / AFP

Turkish police detained several suspects last week under suspicion of planning targeted attacks on Israeli diplomats and tour groups in Istanbul, Hurriyet Daily News reported on Thursday.

Turkey's intelligence agency had received a tip that Iranian intelligence agents and local collaborators were plotting numerous kidnappings and attacks on Israeli targets, including a former Israeli ambassador and his wife.

Two Turkish riot police officers walk in front of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, this month.Credit: Yasin AKGUL / AFP

Nearly ten suspects, including Iranian intelligence agents and Revolutionary Guards disguised as students and businesspeople, were detained in a police operation last Friday, according to Hurriyet, a center-left English daily in Turkey.

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.

The reported detentions seem to confirm Israeli fears of an Iranian attack just as Foreign Minister Yair Lapid heads to Turkey for a short visit to meet with his Turkish counterpart Melvut Cavusoglu.

Israel's FM Yair Lapid on his way to Turkey

Israel's Mossad intelligence agency has taken the targeted citizens from their addresses and sent them to Tel Aviv on a private plane, Hurriyet reported.

Earlier this week, President Isaac Herzog called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to thank him for Turkey’s efforts to find Iranian terrorist squads in Istanbul. Their conversation was termed “positive and warm” by Israeli sources.

Sunday’s conversation was a further indication that Turkish leaders take a serious view of Iran’s attempts to harm Israeli tourists in Turkey. The presence of police forces at major tourist destinations was significantly bolstered, with other forces operating on the ground in order to thwart terrorist squads. Cooperation between Turkish intelligence services, Israel’s Mossad and the National Security Council was significantly augmented.

After years in which Israel has complained about Turkey harboring senior Hamas officials out to harm Israeli citizens, security agencies of both countries are now working together closely to find the terrorists sent by Iran, who are already deployed in Istanbul. An Israeli source described these squads as “low-level gangs of Turks, paid by Iran to carry out kidnappings.”

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