Ex-Mossad official claims spy agency chief’s threat to Iran actually aimed at US

Haim Tomer believes Barnea received Netanyahu’s backing for speech warning that Israel will go after regime leaders in Tehran if Israelis or Jews hurt in Iranian terror

Illustrative: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and Mossad chief David Barnea at a pre-Passover toast April 4, 2023. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Illustrative: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and Mossad chief David Barnea at a pre-Passover toast April 4, 2023. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

A former senior Mossad official said Monday that a warning issued by spy agency chief David Barnea to Iran a day earlier was in fact aimed at making it clear to the United States that Israel has the freedom to act, even in the heart of Tehran.

Haim Tomer, a former Mossad chief of intelligence and operations, additionally claimed that Barnea’s comments carried the approval of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Barnea did not threaten the Iranians. He is a serious enough person to understand that that has no meaning. He made a threat to the Americans,” Tomer told Radio 103FM in comments cited by the Walla news site.

“[Barnea] is expressing harsh criticism of the current US administration,” Tomer said. “He is telling the Americans that he has freedom of action, and that he is not interested in what they do in Tehran, or about the nuclear issue.”

Barnea on Sunday warned Iran’s leaders that they would pay a direct price, even if they were deep in the Iranian capital, should any Israelis or Jews be harmed in what he said was an ongoing, significantly stepped-up, state-organized Iranian terror effort worldwide.

Tomer said he believed that Barnea would not have sent such a message to Washington with his speech if he did not have the backing of the premier.

“Barnea would not speak like that on a public stage without receiving permission from the Prime Minister’s Office,” Tomer said. “I have no doubt that the prime minister supported this strong speech.”

Haim Tomer, a former Mossad chief of intelligence and operations  (Courtesy)

Washington is thought to oppose actions that could embroil the region in war, especially as it pursues a diplomatic deal to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, but has remained mum following suspected Israeli sabotage attacks inside Iran in the past.

Tomer said he believed Barnea to be “frustrated” by the growing contacts between the US and Iran, while Washington “isn’t working to restrain the Iranians.”

Speaking at an annual conference of the Institute for Counter-Terrorism Policy (ICT) at Reichman University in Herzliya, Barnea said on Sunday that the Mossad and its allies in the international intelligence community have foiled 27 Iranian attacks against Jews and Israelis abroad over the past year.

“The squads that were captured, the weapons that were seized together with them, all had clear targets,” he said, noting that the attempts occurred “all over the world, in Europe, Africa, the Far East and South America.”

Mossad director David Barnea speaks at a conference at Reichman University on September 10, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

A number of attacks or suspected plots against Jewish or Israeli targets in Europe, Latin America, Asia and elsewhere over recent decades have been attributed to Iran or its proxy groups, including a scare in Turkey last year that saw Israeli visitors encouraged to go home.

“The time has come to exact a price from Iran in a different way,” Barnea said.

“Harming Israelis and Jews in any way — by proxy, by Iranians, or by Iranian weapons smuggled into Israel — will lead to activity against the Iranians who sent the terrorists and also against the decision-makers, from the ground operators to the commanders who approved the operation, to the highest echelon, and I mean that,” he said.

“These prices will be exacted with great precision in the depths of Iran, in the heart of Tehran,” Barnea warned.

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