Top Iranian general secretly arrested as Israeli spy

Brig. Gen. Ali Nasiri was a senior commander in the IRGC Protection of Information Unit.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A top general in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has been secretly arrested as an Israeli spy, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Brig. Gen. Ali Nasiri, who is reportedly a senior commander in the IRGC Protection of Information Unit, was detained earlier this month, according to officials in Tehran who requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak on the record, said the paper.

The New York Times tied his arrest to the detainment some two months ago of what it said were “dozens” of members of Tehran’s missile development program on charges of leaking classified information to Israel, including design blueprints.

Nine days ago, Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported that three people were arrested in April for allegedly “disseminating classified intelligence and documents” were going to be charged with planning the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists on behalf of Israeli intelligence.

According to the Israeli news site Walla, the district attorney said that there was “ample evidence” against the prisoners, and that “some” of them have already “admitted that they had been in contact with Mossad officers.”

Their trial would begin “soon,” said the IRNA report.

Iran also claimed to have busted at another spy network last October, whose members were trying to gather “sensitive information” for “regional actors,” a coded term that includes Israel.

The failure to prevent such Israeli infiltration, as well as the inability to protect Iranian nuclear installations from mysterious explosions, and top Iranian scientists and IRGC personnel from being assassinated, all allegedly at Israel’s hands, led to the abrupt removal last Thursday of the powerful organization’s long-time intelligence chief, Hossein Taeb.

The final straw for the mullahs, an unnamed Israeli official told the American paper, was the success Jerusalem and Ankara had in foiling a serious Iranian attempt to kidnap or kill Israeli tourists in Turkey over recent weeks.

Eight alleged plotters were detained according to Turkish media, at least five of whom were Iranian nationals.

“The security breaches inside Iran and the vast scope of operations by Israel have really undermined our most powerful intelligence organization,” a former Iranian vice president who is counted among the more reform-minded Iranian politicians, told The New York Times from Tehran.

“The strength of our security has always been the bedrock of the Islamic Republic and it has been damaged in the past year,” added Mohammad Ali Abtahi, who said that the move could be part of a general rethinking of how to deal with the threat Israel poses to the Islamic Republic.