Iran claims to capture infiltrators linked to Israel

Intelligence minister says group apprehended recently while crossing western border with Iraq

A general view of the Iran-Iraq border, August 4, 2009.  (AP/Hadi Mizban)
A general view of the Iran-Iraq border, August 4, 2009. (AP/Hadi Mizban)

Iran’s Intelligence Minister Esmail Khatib said Sunday that the country’s forces had recently captured a “terrorist” group he claimed was linked to Israel, local media reported.

Khatib said the team was captured entering across the western border with Iraq. He said the new government in Iraq has promised to tighten border security.

“Any action on the borders will be met with a decisive and crushing response” from security forces, he told a conference of prosecutors.

He also warned the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government that it too is responsible for preventing insecurity against Iran in the border area, the Tasnim news agency reported.

Iran makes claims of busting Israeli spy rings from time to time, but the veracity of such claims is unclear.

The regime has been violently squelching protests that erupted throughout the country after the September 2022 death of Mahsa Amini, 22, in the custody of morality police after she allegedly violated the country’s dress code. Hundreds of people have been killed, including members of the security forces, and over 10,000 have been arrested. Several protesters have been executed.

Tehran has accused the United States and Israel of planning what it refers to as “riots.” In October, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemned the protests as a foreign plot to destabilize the Islamic Republic.

In January, Iran claimed to have apprehended two cells linked to Israel’s Mossad spy agency that it alleged were operating in the country to exploit protests.

Tehran and Jerusalem have long accused each other of espionage activities and plots to sabotage critical infrastructure, part of a lengthy shadow war between the arch-foes.

Israel views Iran as its greatest threat and has repeatedly threatened to take military action to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons. Iran denies seeking such weapons and has vowed a harsh response to any Israeli aggression.

In January 2022, Israel said it had broken up an Iranian spy ring that recruited Israeli women via social media to photograph sensitive sites, gather intelligence and encourage their sons to join Israeli military intelligence.

In early December last year, Iran executed four people accused of working for the Mossad, while three others received lengthy prison sentences.

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