'We will assassinate these three for the Islamic Republic'

Mossad reportedly interrogated IRGC member in Iran over triple assassination plot

Mansour Rasouli said to have been released after admitting to being tasked with killing Israeli diplomat in Turkey, US general in Germany, Jewish journalist in France

Mansour Rasouli, 52, an alleged IRGC member who was reportedly interrogated by Mossad agents in Iran. (Screenshot: Twitter; used in accordance with clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

The Mossad spy agency detained and questioned a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in Iranian territory for his alleged involvement in an attempt to assassinate an Israeli diplomat in Turkey, Hebrew media reported Saturday night.

The reports contradicted accounts of the arrest published earlier in the day, which said the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps member was detained in an unnamed European country for his connection with the planned attack against the diplomat working at the consulate in Istanbul.

According to the new reports, Mansour Rasouli, 52, admitted to Mossad agents during an interrogation at his home in Iran that he was sent to target the Israeli diplomat, as well as an American general stationed in Germany and a journalist in France.

An audio recording said to be of Rasouli was broadcast by Israeli television networks, along with his picture. “We will assassinate these three for the Islamic Republic. They insisted this would be carried out,” a man’s voice is heard saying in the recording.

The TV reports provided no source for the audio recording.

Channel 12 news added, without citing a source, that the Shin Bet security agency — which generally operates within Israel — also participated in the detention in Iran.

Rasouli was released after the interrogation, the reports said. “I made a mistake, from here on out I won’t take any move regarding this, I swear,” he was said to add.

Earlier Saturday, Hebrew-language outlets said a number of Israeli officials had confirmed earlier reporting of the plot by London-based Iran International, an Iranian opposition news outlet.

According to that unsourced report, a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard was arrested in an unnamed European country in connection with the planned attack. It was not clear precisely when the plot unfolded. The Walla news site, citing Israeli officials, said the incident happened a year ago.

The suspect was said to have been a member of Unit 840 of the Quds Force, the branch of the IRGC tasked with carrying out overseas operations. He was said to also be connected to drug-smuggling networks.

According to the report, the suspect told investigators he had received $150,000 for the preparations for the assassinations, and would receive a further $1 million if he killed the three targets.

A view of Istanbul’s skyline with the iconic Galata Tower, on January 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

There was no official comment on the report from Turkey or Israel.

In February, it was reported that Mossad helped foil 12 plots to carry out terror attacks on Israelis in Turkey over the past two years, most of the plots linked to the Islamic State jihadist group.

Saturday’s reports on the thwarted attack on the Israeli diplomat came the day after al-Quds Day, the Arabic name for Jerusalem, with Iran’s leaders and top generals marking the occasion by railing against Israel and evoking the Jewish state’s destruction.

The reported assassination attempt also comes amid warming ties between Jerusalem and Ankara, and as attempts falter to resurrect the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

Last year, Turkish intelligence reportedly thwarted an Iranian plan to assassinate an Israeli-Turkish businessman who lives in Istanbul and owns an engineering company specializing in aerospace technology.

The planned hit was to be a retaliation for the killing of Iranian nuclear chief Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in 2020, widely attributed to the Mossad, the reports said, as well as a means to hinder warming relations between Ankara and Jerusalem.

Iranians prepare to set an Israeli flag on fire next to a picture of late Iranian general Qasem Soleimani during a rally marking al-Quds Day in Tehran, on April 29, 2022. (AFP)

In the months following the alleged attempt to kill the Israeli businessman, ties between Israel and Turkey have warmed further still, with President Isaac Herzog meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara last month.

Launched in 2017, Iran International reaches millions of Iranians in Iran and around the world. It is considered an oppositional news outlet to Iran’s regime and has made headlines for covering issues like human rights violations, LGBTQ+ rights and women’s rights in Iran.

In February, former Israeli president and convicted sex offender Moshe Katsav gave a rare interview to the outlet.

In 2018, The Guardian reported that the broadcaster was funded by a firm with ties to Saudi Arabia. Iran International denied the report.

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