New Brief – April 10, 2012
In the latest in string of counterintelligence coups, Iran’s Intelligence Ministry announced Tuesday that its security services had cracked a major Zionist terror cell.
Coming just days before talks over its disputed nuclear program, the announcement will be seen as a morale booster for the Iranian republic.
According to the ministry statement its operatives “discovered one of the biggest terror and sabotage networks of the Quds Occupying Regime (Israel) … and arrested groups of criminal terrorists and mercenaries cooperating with them”.
The arrests follow months of intelligence work after a claimed “Zionist regional headquarters” was discovered in a neighbouring country. Although the country in question wasn’t named, it is thought to be Azerbaijan.
Iranian media recently quoted several officials naming neighboring Azerbaijan as a staging point for covert operations inside Iran.
In recent months Azerbaijan has become a hotbed of intelligence intrigue as Israel’s Mossad have used it as an observation post for spying into neighbouring Iran. While Mossad’s operatives have in turn been watched by Tehran’s own intelligence teams.
According to the Intelligence Ministry statement, firefights took place during Tuesday’s arrests, with “heavy bombs, machine guns, hand guns, silencers, military and telecommunications equipment and other terrorist tools” being seized.
The statement also said that the operation had probably foiled further terrorist attacks in the coming days as “a number of operating cells of this terror network were arrested as they were preparing for new terrorist operations”.
The arrests will be seen as a victory for Iran in an ongoing campaign of espionage and counter-espionage; elements of which wouldn’t have been out of place in an old spy movie.
Over the last two years a number of Iran’s leading scientists and researchers have been targeted in a spate of assassination, which has resulted in the murder of four top nuclear physicists.
Iran has accused the United States, Britain and Israel of being behind the assassinations.
Iran was also rocked last year by a series of mysterious explosions that damaged strategic gas pipelines and a key missile base. Although officials stopped short of openly admitting sabotage, it is generally acknowledged that a covert war is underway to prevent Iran from acquiring the scientific know-how to develop Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Tuesday’s arrests are however the latest in string of counter-intelligence coups for Iran.
In late May 2011 members of a CIA sabotage and espionage network were arrested by the Iranian Intelligence Ministry. The following November U.S. officials acknowledged that dozens of operatives working undercover for the Central Intelligence Agency had been arrested in Iran and Lebanon, with most feared dead or in prison.
While the following December Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Aerospace Forces claim to have seized control of an advanced American RQ-170 surveillance drone flying over the country.
Time Magazine reported in March that Israel was scaling back covert operations in Iran out of concern that its network of operatives had been comprimised. According to Time, security officials said the confession by Majid Majali Fashi that he had assassinated Iranian nuclear scientist by attatching a magnetic to his car was authentic.
Several Iranian scientists have been killed after motorcycle borne assassins attatched magnetic bombs to the vehicles they were travelling in.
So in terms of the shadowy world of intelligence and espionage Iran appears to be holding its own against the West. But for how long and how much longer before this war in the shadows erupts into open military conflict?