Israel nabs Iranian-run terror cell in Hebron

Israel exposed a Palestinian terror cell that was recruited, guided and funded by Iranian intelligence agents. 

By: Aryeh Savir. World Israel News

Israel’s security forces recently arrested a Palestinian terror cell that was funded and run by Iranian intelligence out of South Africa, the Shin Bet revealed Wednesday.

The Palestinian ringleader is Muhammad Maharame, a 29-year-old computer engineering student from Hebron. He was recruited by his relative, Bachar Maharame, who has been living in South Africa in recent years.

The Shin Bet investigation revealed that the Iranians have been using South Africa as a place to recruit Palestinians who could act as their agents in Judea and Samaria.

Bachar was sent by the Iranian intelligence to recruit potential agents who would carry out espionage and sabotage operations against Israel on behalf of the Iranians. He recruited Muhammad during his visit to South Africa in 2015.

Muhammad met Iranian agents on several occasions, including some who traveled from Tehran to meet with him.

Multiple anti-Israel tasks

Muhammad was tasked with several anti-Israel missions, including the recruiting of a suicide terrorist and a terror cell that would carry out shooting attacks. He was also told to open a photo shop in Hebron, which could have served as a cover through which Muhammad would relay intelligence to his relative Bachar and to the Iranians.

The Iranians were seeking to recruit Arabs with Israeli citizenship as well, who could move freely throughout the country and collect intelligence. Muhammad was asked to contact journalists who have free access to facilities, and especially official ones.

Another assignment was to send his handlers Israeli currency and SIM cards that could be used in espionage missions.

The Iranians offered Muhammad the opportunity to undergo a weapons and demolition course.

Muhammad succeeded in recruiting two members to his terror cell, Nur Maharame and Dia’a Sarahane, both 22, from Hebron. The cell began to operate under Iranian guidance, while Muhammad received $8,000 from the Iranian agents for his activities.

Iran’s terror tentacles

Muhammad was recently indicted in an IDF military court and charged with maintaining contact with a foreign agent, receiving funds from an enemy entity and conspiracy to join an illegal organization.

Nour Makharmeh was charged with conspiring to join an illegal organization. Diaa Sarakhneh was charged with attempting to join an illegal organization.

This disclosure “illustrates the Iranian involvement in generating terrorism against Israel, and exposes the tentacles sent by Iran to various countries in the world for the purpose of promoting hostile activity against Israel,” the Shin Bet stated.

Israel has long warned that Iran is a key player in funding and promoting terrorism within Israel.

The Islamic Republic is one of the driving forces behind the wave of  Palestinian terrorist attacks and is funding it, Israel’s military intelligence chief Brig. General Herzl Halevi warned in February 2016.

More recently, Israel revealed that Iran spurred the violent protests at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem this past summer by providing food packages to rioters, together with drinks and flyers calling for all of Israel to be “liberated” from Jews.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday commented on the foiling of an Iranian-sponsored terrorist network, saying this was not the first time that Israel has exposed a terrorist network in Judea and Samaria that operated under the aegis of Iranian intelligence.

“They are trying various methods, and in various fields, to attack the State of Israel. I am pleased that the Shin Bet and our security services have succeeded in foiling it,” Netanyahu stated.

The prime minister emphasized that “Iran is using terrorism against the State of Israel not only with the assistance of terrorist movements such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, but is also attempting to organize terrorist actions inside the State of Israel and against the citizens of Israel.”