Working inside Iran, Mossad captures would-be assassin of Israeli official

The captured man, working for the IRGC, spoke of three targets, including an official from the Israeli embassy in Istanbul.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence Agency, captured and interrogated a man in Iran in recent months who admitted that he had been organizing a series of assassinations, including that of an Israeli, leading to the arrest of the entire cell of conspirators.

Israeli officials released a partial audio recording of Mansour Rasouli’s interrogation Saturday. In it, the 52-year-old member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force can be heard saying that the organization spoke of three targets in all: one Israeli from the country’s embassy in Istanbul, Turkey, an American general in Germany, and a journalist in France.

“We would assassinate them for the Islamic Republic,” he said, speaking calmly. “They were determined that this would definitely be carried out.”

The unnamed Frenchman was seemingly in the most immediate danger, with Rasouli saying that the terrorist organization wanted him assassinated “now.”

“I made a mistake,” Rasouli said. “I won’t do anything more on this, I swear it on my mother’s life, on my daughter’s life, on the lives of my family. I will never make such a mistake again.”

The agents of the Mossad, Israel’s equivalent of the CIA, let Rasouli go and used the information he gave them to foil the plot. Operational units of Israel’s internal security service, the Shin Bet, were also reportedly involved in the mission.

The Quds Force is the IRGC’s branch responsible for extraterritorial operations. It uses proxy terrorist groups as its long arm abroad as well as members of drug cartels whom they pay handsomely to carry out their bidding.

According to the London-based opposition Iranian group “Iran International,” which broke the news of the foiled plot Saturday, Rasouli belongs to the Quds Force’s Unit 840, which follows those who live abroad who oppose the Islamic regime as well as other Westerners.

The report said he received $150,000 to recruit local drug dealers to execute the hits. If successful, he would have reportedly received another million dollars.

Senior Israeli officials said that this was only the latest in a string of dozens of similar assassination plots that the Mossad has prevented over the last year in Cyprus, Colombia, Kenya, and Turkey by working in close cooperation with their fellow intelligence agencies in those countries.

This is the definition of “state-sponsored terrorism,” they said, with the orders and funds coming from Iran’s leaders. Their use of proxies abroad serves to give them room for denying responsibility for any of their malign activities. However, say the officials, all these planned attacks show that the IRGC is the mover and shaker behind the scenes.

It is a prime reason why the Israelis and their regional allies, including Egypt and the UAE, have pressed the Biden administration not to take the organization off the American government’s official list of foreign terror organizations.

The demand to delist the IRGC was tacked onto the Iranian conditions for returning to the nuclear deal after a framework agreement had reportedly been reached late last year. The president has balked at the condition, following pressure from the region and internal dissent in Congress from both parties. This has led to the prediction that a new nuclear deal will not be signed, since Iran shows no sign of giving up on this requirement.