Terror cell said to have reported to an intelligence officer in Iran.
By David Hellerman, World Israel News
Turkish and Israeli intelligence foiled an Iranian plot to assassinate an Israeli businessman in Istanbul, Turkish media reported on Friday.
Officials in Jerusalem and Ankara haven’t commented, but according to the unconfirmed reports, a nine-man cell of Iranian and Turkish nationals planned to murder Israeli businessman Yair Geller.
The hit was reportedly intended to be in retaliation for the assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in 2020. It’s not clear if Geller was viewed as a target of opportunity, or if the Iranians sought his assassination for more specific reasons. Reports have speculated that Iran may have sought to thwart Turkish diplomatic overtures to Israel.
Geller owns CNC İleri Teknoloji, an aerospace and aviation company based in Istanbul.
“I am an Israeli businessman in Turkey with an engineering research and development company. I was informed that the Iranians are tracking and are attempting to assassinate me,” the 75-year-old Geller told Israel’s Kan News.
Reports said the cell was discovered by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization who then notified the Mossad. Geller was moved to a safe house in Turkey and given a Mossad security detail after declining to return to Israel.
The group was said to have been led in Turkey by Iranian Moshtagh Bighouz, who reported to an intelligence officer in Iran identified as Yasin Taheremamkendi.
Ties between Jerusalem and Ankara have warmed in recent weeks and Israeli President Isaac Herzog is widely expected to visit Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is interested in collaborating with Israel on selling natural gas to Europe.
In November, Cypriot police busted a terror cell seeking to assassinate Israeli billionaire Teddy Sagi. An Azeri hitman and several Pakistani nationals were arrested. Israel accused Iran of being behind the plot while Iran denied any involvement.