Security footage released by Turkish media on Wednesday purported to show how alleged Iranian operatives scouted potential Israeli targets in Istanbul last month, as Iran attempted to carry out an attack against citizens of the Jewish state.
The footage, reportedly obtained from security sources, showed several men trailing Israeli tourists and filming them. The suspects were captured by cameras following Israelis in airports, shopping centers and hotels.
The footage was obtained after police scanned hundreds of hours of security footage from Istanbul, reports said.
Turkish authorities identified several Iranian citizens who had recently entered the country, often with fake passports, and exhibited suspicious activity, like switching vehicles routinely.
“We are talking about an event on a scale we had not seen before,” a Turkish source told Israel’s Channel 12 on Wednesday.
— Atv Haber (@AtvHaberTurkiye) August 2, 2022
On June 23, Turkish police arrested five Iranian nationals accused of plotting attacks against Israeli targets in Istanbul.
The news of the bust came weeks after Israel ordered its citizens in Istanbul to leave immediately, warning of an imminent Iranian attack plot targeting Israelis in Turkey.
Among those who were being targeted for kidnapping were a former Israeli diplomat and his wife, Hebrew media reported, citing Turkish outlets. The diplomat’s name was not published.
A month later, local reports indicated that Turkey had foiled another Iranian attempt to target Israelis in Istanbul, saying three men were detained. They were caught on July 14 while carrying a rifle, two pistols, silencers and ammunition, reports said.
The men reportedly tried to target Israeli tourists staying at a hotel near Istanbul’s Taksim Square, in exchange for $35,000.
The next day, the Turkish Sabah daily newspaper published a video showing a man photographing areas inside the hotel.
In this case, four cell members were arrested at the “last minute,” the report said.
????????????????????Iran paid $35,000 to agents tasked with killing Israelis in Istanbul / Video of the Iranian terrorists photographing the rooms of Israeli tourists. pic.twitter.com/PiP0cnWvZ8
— Terror Alarm (@terror_alarm) July 23, 2022
Iran and Israel have been engaged in a years-long shadow war, but tensions have ratcheted up in recent months following a string of high-profile mysterious deaths Tehran has blamed on Israel, airstrikes against Iran-linked targets in Syria, threatening rhetoric from Iranian leaders and Iran’s increasing violations of nuclear agreements.
The Islamic Republic claimed Israel was responsible for the killing of Revolutionary Guards Colonel Hassan Sayyad Khodaei in his Tehran home on May 22. Khodaei’s assassination was the most high-profile killing inside Iran since the November 2020 killing of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, also blamed on Israel.
Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh has said that Israeli claims that Tehran was targeting Israelis in Turkey are “baseless” and part of a “pre-designed scenario to destroy relations between the two Muslim countries.”
Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which also handles operations outside of the country, recently announced that it was replacing the head of its intelligence unit Hossein Taeb, who had held the position for over a decade.
Taeb has been repeatedly named in Hebrew media reports as the man behind the planned attacks on Israelis in Turkey.