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January 31, 2021 8:04 pm

Report Reveals Iran’s Years-Long Effort to Infiltrate Israel, Recruit Spies and Sow Terror

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Gen. Qassem Soleimani (center). Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Iran has been engaged in a years-long effort to infiltrate Israel, set up terror cells within its borders and in the Palestinian territories, and carry out terror atrocities against Israeli civilians and infrastructure, Israeli news site Walla reported on Sunday.

The effort, the report states, began with the 1997 appointment of Qassem Soleimani as head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force. Soleimani developed a strategy of infiltration, terrorism, subversion, and imperialism that reached the Middle East and beyond — including ambitions to infiltrate Syria, take over Lebanon, and install terror cells as far away as Europe and Africa.

Soleimani, who was killed last January in a US drone strike in Iraq, was actively attempting to infiltrate Israel as early as 2012, when three West Bank Palestinians were arrested by Israel’s Shin Bet and admitted under interrogation that they were Iranian agents.

The men were recruited via Hamas, and had secretly visited Iran via foreign countries to receive extensive military and terrorism training. The interrogation revealed that other Palestinians, mainly Hamas operatives, were also being trained there. While there, the recruits had been visited by, among others, top Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal.

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These activities appear to be connected to the IRGC’s Unit 400, which was established by Soleimani in 2011 and is composed of terror cells that reach as far as Gambia and Belgium.

The report detailed a litany of Iranian and Iran-sponsored attempts in recent years to infiltrate Israel, apparently as part of the activities of Unit 400.

In August 2013, an Israeli citizen was arrested for collaborating with Iran, and revealed under interrogation that he had met with an Iranian agent in Berlin in 2011.

Eight months later, a Belgian national was arrested at Ben Gurion Airport and found to be in possession of photographs of the US Embassy in Israel. He confessed to the Shin Bet that he was an Iranian agent and had been sent to Israel on an intelligence mission.

In January 2018, the Shin Bet uncovered an Iranian intelligence infrastructure in the West Bank, run by an agent based in South Africa. In 2019, an attempt to establish another such network was thwarted by the security agency, this time involving a Jordanian businessman who had entered Israel in order to create an infrastructure for terror attacks.

Also in 2019, a major Iranian attempt to recruit agents in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza was uncovered. It was operated from Syria, which is now largely controlled by Iran, and used social media in order to make initial contact with potential agents.

Following the assassination of Soleimani, Iran vowed revenge against Israel as well as the United States. In March 2020, an Israeli civilian was arrested on charges of spying for Iran. He was told to provide information on, among other things, security and strategic areas, deepening divisions in Israeli society, and how terrorist activities could be undertaken.

In June 2020, the Shin Bet busted a terror squad from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine that was revealed to have been funded and trained by Iran and Hezbollah. And in September 2020, an east Jerusalem man was arrested after being recruited by the Quds Force and Hezbollah.

An Israeli security official with connections to the Shin Bet told Walla that Iranians activities in this realm are “characterized by sophistication and technique at the highest level.”

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