The Mossad recently thwarted an Iranian assassination attempt against an Israeli consulate employee in Turkey, Israeli officials said Saturday. The alleged agent was detained in Turkey and interrogated on Iranian soil before leaving for his assignment, and was later released.
The U.K.-based Iran International News Channel earlier reported that an agent of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force had been commissioned to assassinate three people, among them the Israeli. The two other targets were a U.S. general in Germany and a journalist in France, allegedly.
According to the report, the agent was given $150,000 to prepare for the assassinations and was meant to receive another $1 million after the task was completed. The report said that the Iranian news channel had obtained documents showing the agent was planning on using drug traffickers to carry out the killings.
In a video that circulated online, a man identified as an Iranian national, Mansour Rasouli, admits that he was sent to Turkey by Iran to assassinate three Western targets.
Both the U.S. and Israel have been on high alert in recent months over the targeting of their national abroad. Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken informed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that “there is an ongoing threat against American officials both past and present” when asked about the Guards’ reported plot to assassinate former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other Trump administration officials.
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“Within the context of any engagements that we have, directly or indirectly, with Iranians, one of the strong messages we send to them is they need to stop targeting our people, period,” Blinken said. U.S. officials have previously raised these ongoing threats during talks in Vienna over a return to the nuclear agreement between Iran and Western powers.
This attempt to assassinate the Israeli diplomat in Turkey follows, a source said, numerous foiled attempts by the Iranian regime to attack Israelis and Jews in Cyprus, Colombia, Kenya, Turkey, and elsewhere.
In early February, the Turkish Daily Sabah reported that Turkish intelligence services had prevented an Iranian assassination attempt on an Israeli citizen.
In October, Iran attempted to carry out a “terror attack” targeting Israeli businesspeople in Cyprus, a spokesman for the Israeli government said following reports of an attempted assassination of Israeli-Cypriot billionaire Teddy Sagi.
Israel appeared to hint that its intelligence services had contributed to Cyprus’ foiling of the suspected attack plot. “There are security threats. As you can see, the Shin Bet, the Mossad, all of the security forces know how to handle them,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told reporters when asked about the incident.
U.S. President Joe Biden is due to make a decision on Tehran’s request to remove Iran’s Revolutionary Guards from the U.S. terror blacklist. The removal of the IRGC from the blacklist is one of the outstanding issues remaining in the talks over a new deal.
With the verdict pending, Israel has been conducting an intensive campaign in the U.S. against removing the organization from the blacklist. Following that, White House officials, unlike those at the State Department, have signaled that they plan to side with Israel and ask to leave the Revolutionary Guards on the list.
A U.S. State Department report made public last month detailed how the State Department is spending $2 million per month to protect Pompeo and Brian Hook, who served as the Trump administration’s Iran envoy, and $13 million to date, following the reported assassination plot against them.
While Pompeo was entitled to receive automatic protection for the six months after he left office, Blinken has repeatedly extended the protection in two-month increments due to a “serious and credible threat from a foreign power or agent of a foreign power arising from duties performed by former Secretary Pompeo while employed by the department,” per the report.
All of said attempts are carried out at the behest of the Iranian leadership with the approval and funding of the regime, are executed by Iranian intelligence and security services, and are headed by the Quds Force.
In an effort to avoid responsibility for such assassination attempts, the Iranian regime distances its actions from the government through the use of proxies, including Shi’ite militias acting as their boots on the ground and technology that allows for plausible deniability.