Many see Israel behind May 22 killing of Iranian paramilitary leader in Tehran

IRGC IranA GROWING NUMBER OF security observers point to Israel as the most likely culprit behind the assassination of a leading member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Iran’s powerful paramilitary force. Brigadier General Hassan Sayyad Khodaei, who was killed in broad daylight in Tehran on May 22, served as deputy director of the Quds Force, a major branch of the IRGC. The mission of the Quds Force is to carry out unconventional warfare, especially in support of IRGC operations against adversaries abroad.

Observers regularly describe the IRGC as a ‘praetorian guard’ that operates inside Iran’s governing apparatus. Today the IRGC is a military force with a command structure that is distinct from Iran’s regular Armed Forces. It maintains its own army, navy and air force, has its own paramilitary and political protection units, and oversees Iran’s nuclear program. The IRGC’s weapons development falls under the duties of the Quds Force, in which Khodaei was a leading figure. He was also known to have been closely mentored by IRGC Commander Qasem Soleimani, who was assassinated by the United States in 2020.

Kodaei was assassinated in broad daylight on May 22, as he was heading home from his office in downtown Tehran, located a few blocks from the main building of Iran’s Consultative Assembly. According to eyewitness reports, Kodaei’s vehicle was rapidly approached by two individuals riding on a motorbike. They sped away seconds after shooting Kodaei five times, killing him almost instantly. The entrance to the street where Kodaei was attacked was allegedly blocked by a white van, which also sped away following the shooting.

Israel is known for carrying out assassinations of Iranian officials using motorbikes, which can move with relative ease in the congested streets of Tehran. IntelNews regulars will recall that Israeli intelligence claimed last month to have detained and interrogated an alleged Iranian assassin named Mansour Rasouli. A video of his alleged testimony emerged, which was reportedly filmed at a Mossad safehouse somewhere in Iran. Meanwhile, Kodaei’s assassins remain at large.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 25 May 2022 | Permalink

Mossad allegedly uncovered Iranian plot to kill Israeli, American officials abroad

Israeli consulate Istanbul TurkeyISRAEL’S MOSSAD INTELLIGENCE AGENCY allegedly foiled a plot by Iranian intelligence to send assassins abroad and kill an Israeli diplomat, an American military official and a French reporter, according to reports. The information about the alleged plot first surfaced late last week in the Iran International News Channel, a British-based Iranian news agency, which is opposed to the government in Tehran. The news agency claimed that the plot had been organized by the Quds Force, the paramilitary wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Shortly after news of the alleged plot emerged, Israeli media reported the existence of a video of an Iranian man who identifies himself as Mansour Rasouli (or Rassouli). In the video, the man claims to be a member of Unit 840, the part of the Quds Force that plans and executes operations overseas. He also claims that he was paid $150,000 to plan the assassination of an Israeli consular official in Istanbul, Turkey, as well as an American military general stationed in Turkey. A third target for assassination was a Jewish French journalist. The names of the alleged targets are not known. He adds that he had planned to carry out the assassinations with the use of networks of drug smugglers.

Rasouli then claims that the Quds Force had promised to pay him an additional $1 million following the successful conclusion of the assassinations. Toward the end of his statement, Rasouli says he had made an “error of judgment” in agreeing to participate in the operation, and promises to refrain from targeting individuals for assassination in the future. According to Iran International, Rasouli’s interview was filmed by officers of the Mossad in Turkey, where he was allegedly captured before he was able to execute the first of the planned assassinations. However, Israeli media later claimed that the Mossad officers filmed the interview in Iran, during a covert operation that resulted in the capture and interrogation of Rasouli.

IntelNews readers will recall that, in October of last year, Israel accused Iran of being behind a plot to kill Israeli citizens in Cyprus. The accusation came after the arrest of an Azeri national, who was reportedly found carrying a gun fitted with a silencer in the Cypriot capital Nicosia. A year earlier, it was reported that American intelligence agencies had uncovered an Iranian plot to kill the United States’ ambassador to South Africa, in an effort to avenge the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani by the United States in January of 2020.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 02 May 2022 | Permalink

Mossad targeted cell phones ‘unofficially’ with Pegasus software, report alleges

NSO GroupISRAEL’S EXTERNAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, the Mossad, made unofficial use of the Pegasus spyware, whose developer has been sanctioned by the United States government, according to a report from Israel. NSO Group Technologies was one of two Israeli firms that were placed on a US Department of Commerce sanctions list last November. According to a statement issued by the US Department of Commerce, the two firms engaged “in activities that are contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States”.

The move followed revelations about a spy software known as Pegasus, which is marketed by NSO Group. Pegasus is able to install itself on targeted telephones without requiring their users to click a link or download an application. Upon installation, the software provides the spying party with near-complete control of a targeted telephone. This includes the ability to browse through the device’s contents, such as photographs and videos, record conversations, as well as activate the telephone’s built-in microphone and camera at any time, without its user’s consent or knowledge.

Now a report by Haaretz, one of Israel’s leading newspapers, alleges that, under its previous director, Yossi Cohen, the Mossad worked closely with NSO Group Technologies. Citing NSO Group “employees, who asked to remain anonymous”, Haaretz alleges that Mossad officials “frequently visited the company headquarters in Herzliya”, in the northern outskirts of Tel Aviv. Initially, the Mossad officials sought to learn about the uses and capabilities of the spy software, according to Haaretz. Later, however, they began to bring with them foreign officials from countries like Saudi Arabia and Angola, whose governments were interested in acquiring the software.

On “several occasions”, the Mossad officials asked NSO Group to make use Pegasus in order to “hack certain phones” on behalf of the Mossad. It is not known whether this was because NSO Group’s spyware was more advanced than the Mossad’s spyware, or whether the spy agency was engaged in “unofficial intelligence gathering”, says Haaretz. The paper adds that, under its current director, David Barnea, the Mossad has distanced itself from NSO Technologies.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 14 February 2022 | Permalink

Israel likely behind 1981 bombings of German, Swiss engineering firms, expert claims

MossadISRAEL’S PRIMARY EXTERNAL INTELLIGENCE agency, the Mossad, was likely behind a series of mysterious bombings in 1981, which targeted German and Swiss engineering firms believed to be aiding the Pakistani nuclear program, according to new exposé by a leading Swiss newspaper. Several bomb attacks targeted a number of engineering firms in Switzerland and what was then West Germany in 1981. Alongside these attacks, there were threatening telephone calls that targeted West German and Swiss engineers.

A previously unknown militant group calling itself the Organization for the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in South Asia took responsibility for these actions. Its members mailed a number of political manifestos to the German and Swiss press, and repeatedly issue proclamations via telephone in broken German or English, according to contemporary accounts. Interestingly, the Organization for the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in South Asia has never been heard of since.

Now, however, one of Switzerland’s leading newspapers, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ), claims in a new report that the violent actions against German and Swiss scientists and engineering firms were likely undertaken by the Israeli Mossad. In a leading article published on Saturday, the Swiss daily cited “new, previously unseen documents from archives” in Switzerland and the United States, which allegedly shed light on these mysterious attacks.

The report rests partly on the work of Swiss historian Adrian Hänni, who argues that Israeli intelligence was eager to prevent Pakistan from acquiring access to nuclear energy. The prospect of Pakistan becoming the first Muslim-majority nuclear state was viewed by Israel as an “existential threat”, according to Hänni. Additionally, the Mossad had credible information that senior officials in Islamabad worked closely with the Islamic Republic of Iran, one of Israel’s mortal regional enemies. These factors convinced the Israeli leadership of the time to authorize a covert operation against a number of European firms and scientists who were allegedly aiding Islamabad’s pursuit of a nuclear arsenal, according to the NZZ.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 05 January 2022 | Permalink

Israeli television channel to air details of ex-Mossad chief’s alleged affair

Yossi Cohen and Benjamin NetnayahuAN ISRAELI TELEVISION CHANNEL has said it will be airing details about an alleged extramarital affair involving the former director of the Mossad intelligence agency, Yossi Cohen. Cohen, 59, who has four children, served as director of the Mossad from 2015 until earlier this year. Last summer, the privately owned Channel 13 television reported that Cohen had “a close relationship” for the past two years with a woman who was not his wife, and who was believed to be a flight attendant. The report added that a complaint about the affair had been handed over to Israel’s Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, who was reviewing it.

At the time Cohen denied he had an extramarital affair, saying: “there is no flight attendant [and] there is no close relationship”. The former Mossad chief added that he had not been contacted by Attorney General Mandelblit about the complaint, or for any other reason. In its report back in the summer, the television station gave no further information about the alleged complaint, the identity of the flight attendant, or the state of the Attorney General Mandelblit’s investigation.

Now, however, Channel 13 says it will be airing a detailed report about the alleged extramarital affair, on Tuesday, December 21. According to preview clips, the channel’s investigative program, HaMakor, will claim that the affair began in 2018, while Cohen was director of the Mossad. What is more, the program will feature an interview with Guy Shiker, a well-known Israeli financier, who is allegedly the husband of the flight attendant.

In his interview, Shiker tells HaMakor that Cohen bragged to him and his wife about Mossad operations, and shared with them details of spy programs that were almost certainly classified. In a written response, Cohen told the television channel that he never shared any classified information with the couple or with anyone else, and that he did not divulge any operational details that he was not authorized to disclose during his tenure in the Mossad.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 20 December 2021 | Permalink

Israeli Mossad targeted Iran nuclear plant with three-pronged assault, report claims

Natanz Iran

THE NATANZ ENRICHMENT FACILITY, which lies at the heart of the Iranian nuclear program, has repeatedly been the target of a multi-pronged sabotage operation by Israeli intelligence, according to a new report. The existence of the hardened fuel enrichment plant near the city of Natanz, in Iran’s Esfahan Province, was first acknowledged in 2002, when it was revealed by an Iranian whistleblower. In July 2020 and April 2021, Iranian authorities acknowledged that the facility had suffered major damage, reportedly due to acts of sabotage.

New a new report, published on Thursday in the London-based journal The Jewish Chronicle, claims that the Israeli agency Mossad was behind the sabotage in Natanz, which allegedly destroyed 90 percent of the plant’s nuclear centrifuges. The journal said that a team of over 1,000 technicians, intelligence analysts and operations officers was behind the attacks. The latter were carried out in a variety of ways that included infiltrating supply chains, recruiting Iranian scientists, and deploying a so-called suicide drone.

According to the The Jewish Chronicle, in 2019 the Mossad managed to infiltrate the supply chains used by Iran to build additions to several buildings and underground facilities in Natanz. Consequently, Israeli intelligence operatives posing as construction material wholesalers were able to supply building materials to Iranian government officials, which were “filled with […] explosives”. These were detonated remotely in July 2020, causing substantial damage to the nuclear plant.

At around the same time, Mossad officers posing as Iranian dissidents began recruiting Iranian scientists working at Natanz. The Chronicle cites an unnamed source who says that “the scientists’ motivations were all different” and that the Mossad offered each of them “what they deeply wanted in their lives”. The Mossad supplied the recruited scientists with explosives, which were dropped into the Natanz compound by drones, or smuggled inside boxes of catering supplies. The bombs were “remotely set off” in April 2021 and almost completely destroyed Natanz’s A1000 underground centrifuge hall, which is buried beneath 12 meters of reinforced concrete. Following the attack, 10 Iranian scientists were “spirited away to a safe location. All of them are safe today”, according to the unnamed source.

Two months later, a third attack was carried out, this time against a manufacturing facility of the Iran Centrifuge Technology Company in the city of Karaj, which is located 30 miles northwest of the Iranian capital Tehran. The attack was reportedly carried out with the use of a loitering munition —also known as a suicide drone— the size of a motorcycle. Mossad operatives had previously managed to smuggle the device into Iran in small components, which were then re-assembled.

The Chronicle reports that the attacks against the Natanz nuclear plant were carried out by Israeli spies without the participation of American intelligence agencies. The journal also claims that Israel recently put in motion “a new policy of launching covert attacks on Iranian soil in retaliation for its meddling in the region”. This means that “further undercover operations [inside Iran] are in the pipeline”, the report concludes.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 03 November 2021 | Permalink

Mossad officials visited Sudan before coup, but had no warning, reports claim

Sudan civil unrest

A DELEGATION OF ISRAELI government officials, which likely included members of the Mossad spy agency, paid a secret visit to Sudan in the days prior to the October 25 coup d’état, but were given no indication of what was about to happen, according to reports from Israel. The Israeli delegation’s goal was to assess the Sudanese government’s ongoing interest in establishing bilateral relations with the Jewish state, according to Walla News, which is among Israel’s most popular news websites.

According to the report, the Israeli delegation held several meetings with leading Sudanese government officials, among them Abdel Rahim Hamdan Dagalo, a general in Sudan’s notorious Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group. The RSF was a leading actor in the October 25 coup, which resulted in the arrest of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and most of his cabinet. In Hamdok’s place, the coup plotters installed Sudanese Army General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman al-Burhan, who proceeded to declare a state of emergency and suspend civil liberties across the nation.

According to the report, the main purpose of the Israeli delegation’s secret visit was to assess the prospects of continuing normalization between Sudan and Israel —a process that began in early 2020 under American tutelage. Anonymous officials told Walla News that the Israeli delegation was given no indication by the Sudanese military officials that they were planning a coup d’état, though they could easily have expected it, given the volatile state of Sudanese politics in the past year.

It is worth pointing out that, as noted recently by The Times of Israel, although “much of the Western world has condemned the [Sudanese] coup, Israel has remained noticeably silent”. According to observers, this is likely the case because the Sudanese military, which carried out the October 25 coup, is the main supporter of normalizing Sudan’s relations with Israel. On the other hand, the civilian-led revolutionary movement, which helped topple Sudan’s longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2019, has been critical of Israel and has expressed strong support for the Palestinians.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 02 November 2021 | Permalink

Turkish pro-government newspaper publishes interview with alleged Mossad spy

Ram Ben-BarakA POPULAR TURKISH NEWSPAPER has published an interview with a member of a network of spies who were allegedly recruited by the Israeli agency Mossad to spy on Palestinian students living in Turkey. As intelNews reported last week, Turkish intelligence announced the arrests of 15 members of an alleged spy ring for the Mossad. Turkish media said that the 15 individuals were arrested on October 7 during simultaneous raids that took place across four different provinces. The counterintelligence operation to arrest the alleged spies took nearly a year and involved more than 200 officers of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT).

Last Friday, Turkey’s Sabah newspaper published a lengthy interview with one of the 15 alleged spies. The paper, which is politically aligned with the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, referred to the alleged spy using the initials “M.A.S.”, and claimed he is a Turkish citizen who was recruited by the Mossad. The alleged spy told the paper that he was first contacted in December 2018 by “an agent called A.Z.” through the WhatsApp phone application. After providing this individual with information about Turkish universities, he was sent funds via Western Union wire transfers. Other times he was paid by a man he met in a market in Istanbul, after showing him his identity card, along with a receipt that had been sent to him by A.Z.

Eventually, M.A.S. said he was instructed to travel to Switzerland, having first secured a visa for his trip through a company called European Student Guidance Center. Sabah claims the M.A.S.’ trip to Switzerland was paid for by the Mossad. While in there, M.A.S. met his alleged handlers, who taught him how to use strong encryption for sending documents and other information via secure email applications. However, even at that point he did not realize he was working for a foreign government, having been told by his handlers that they were employees of an “intelligence-like organization” in the private sector. According to Sabah, other members of the alleged spy ring met with their handlers, abroad, mostly in Switzerland and Croatia. Most were paid with cryptocurrency, conventional international money transfers, or sometimes in gold jewelry or foreign currency.

Importantly, Sabah did not say how its reporters were able to gain access to M.A.S. after his arrest by the Turkish authorities. The Turkish government has made no official statement about these arrests. Also on Friday, a number of Israeli public figures, including Ram Ben-Barak (pictured), former deputy director of the Mossad and current chairman of the Knesset’s Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense, said that “none of the published names [in Turkey] were [of] Israeli spies”. Ben-Barak also cast doubt on the professionalism and capabilities of Turkish counterintelligence.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 25 October 2021 | Permalink

Turkey announces arrest of Russian and Israeli alleged spies following crackdown

MIT Turkey

THE GOVERNMENT OF TURKEY has announced the arrest of 21 individuals, among them foreign citizens, whom it accuses of “political and military espionage” on behalf of Israel, and of planning assassinations ordered by Russia. Turkish authorities released separately two statements on Thursday, announcing the arrests of alleged spies for Israel and Russia respectively. The two sets of arrests do not appear to be connected, despite the fact that they were announced on the same day.

Six alleged assassins operating under Russian command were arrested on October 8 in Antalya, a tourist resort located on Turkey’s southern coast. Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) said the group includes four Russians, a Ukrainian and an Uzbek. They allegedly planned to kill a number of Chechen separatists who live in Turkey. In preparation of the alleged assassinations, group members “were in the process of obtaining weapons”, according to Turkish government prosecutors.

A court in Istanbul has reportedly ruled that the members of the alleged assassination team should remain behind bars, pending a trial for espionage. Meanwhile the a Russian government spokesman said on Thursday that the Kremlin was “not aware” of any Russian citizens having been arrested on espionage charges in Turkey, adding that the Russian embassy in Ankara had not been informed of any such arrests.

Meanwhile, in a separate announcement issued on Thursday, the MİT disclosed the arrests of 15 members of an alleged spy ring for Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency. Turkish media reports said the 15 individuals had been arrested in a series of raids that took place across four Turkish provinces on October 7, following a year-long counterintelligence operation. Turkish authorities claim that the spy ring monitored the activities of Palestinians living in Turkey and provided the information to the Mossad, in return “for tens of thousands of dollars and euros”. The Israeli government has not commented on these reports.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 22 October 2021 | Permalink

Iran denies murder plot after alleged assassin caught with gun and silencer in Cyprus

Nicosia Cyprus

ISRAEL HAS ACCUSED IRAN of being behind a plot to kill Israeli citizens in the Republic of Cyprus, following the arrest of a man who was reportedly found carrying a gun fitted with a silencer in the Cypriot capital Nicosia. The man reportedly entered Cyprus on a flight that landed at Larnaca International Airport last week. He is believed to be a 38-year-old Azeri national, who allegedly entered Cyprus using a Russian passport.

Cypriot police kept tabs on the suspected assassin as soon as he entered Cyprus, according to reports. IntelNews hears that the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad may have been behind a tip given to the Cypriots about the man’s presence on the island. In the days following his arrival, the suspect crossed several times into the Turkish-occupied northern region of Cyprus, using his Russian passport and “trying to keep a low profile”, according to Israeli media reports.

The Azeri man was eventually arrested in Nicosia, shortly after entering from northern Cyprus at the Agios Dometios checkpoint. Some local news reports suggest that he was found to be carrying a gun fitted with a silencer, and that he was planning to target a number of prominent Israeli business people who live on the island. Reports in Israel claim that the alleged assassin’s primary target was Teddy Sagi, an Israeli investor who owns online gambling platforms, as well as properties in the United Kingdom and Cyprus. He is believed to be among Israel’s richest citizens.

Iran has vehemently denied Israel’s claim that Cypriot police averted “an act of terror [that] was orchestrated by Iran against Israeli business people” in Cyprus. However, the Israeli government’s announcement did not go into details, while Israeli officials refused to confirm that Teddy Sagi was the target of the alleged operation.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 05 October 2021 | Permalink

Israel killed Iranian nuclear scientist using advanced robotic device, report claims

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh

ISRAEL’S PRIMARY EXTERNAL INTELLIGENCE agency, the Mossad, assassinated the lead military scientist behind Iran’s nuclear program using a remote-controlled robot, according to a new report. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was a brigadier general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Iran’s elite paramilitary force. He was assassinated along with his wife on November 27, 2020, in an armed assault that took place in the eastern outskirts of Tehran. The attack, which lasted no more than 3 minutes, took place in broad daylight. No arrests have been made in connection with the killings.

Shortly after Fakhrizadeh’s assassination, Iranian authorities claimed that the Mossad had orchestrated his killing, and Iranian media carried reports about the alleged identities of the killers. But in February of this year, the London-based weekly newspaper The Jewish Chronicle claimed that the Mossad had killed the IRGC general using a “one-ton remote-controlled gun smuggled into Iran piece by piece over eight months”. There has been no confirmation of that report, and the details behind Fakhrizadeh’s killing remain vague.

On Saturday, however, an article by The New York Times’ Ronen Bergman and Farnaz Fassihi supported the view that the Fakhrizadeh was killed by a remote-controlled advanced robotic device. According to the new report, the apparatus had been fitted by Mossad operatives into the bed of a blue Zamyad, a popular Iranian-built Nissan pickup truck model. A Belgian-made FN MAG 7.62-mm machine gun was hidden beneath decoy construction material and a heavy tarpaulin, said the article. It repeated the The Jewish Chronicle’s claim that the device had been smuggled into Iran by Mossad operatives in pieces, over an extensive period of time.

According to Bergman and Fassihi, Fakhrizadeh’s assassins operated remotely, and there was no Mossad hit squad on the ground in Tehran when the assassination occurred. In fact, the Mossad team that installed the advanced robotic apparatus “had already left Iran” by the time the trigger was pulled. Artificial intelligence was employed to ensure that the remote sniper’s actions were successful. However, the explosives that were meant to destroy the apparatus following Fakhrizadeh’s assassination partly malfunctioned, thus allowing the Iranians to access the partly damaged vehicle, machine gun and control mechanism, said the Times.

In an article published late on Saturday, Israeli English-language newspaper The Jerusalem Post said it was in a position to “confirm the accuracy of the Times report.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 20 September 2021 | Permalink

Israeli AG investigating claims that ex-Mossad chief had extra-marital relationship

Yossi CohenTHE GOVERNMENT OF ISRAEL is reportedly investigating allegations that Yossi Cohen, who recently stepped down from the helm of the Mossad, Israel’s external spy agency, had an extra-marital affair for two years. It is also claimed that the extra-marital relationship took place while Cohen was director of the Mossad, and that he shared classified information with his alleged mistress, who is reportedly a flight attendant.

Cohen, 59, with four children, assumed the directorship of the Mossad in 2015. He is a 35-year veteran of Israel’s pre-eminent spy agency, which he left briefly in 2013 to chair Israel’s National Security Council and advise the prime minister. He is known as one of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s most trusted advisers. Cohen grew up in Jerusalem and became a fighter pilot before joining the Mossad. He gradually rose through the agency’s ranks to become its deputy director. Prior to that role, he led for several years the Mossad’s Department of Collections, which handles operations officers around the world. He then led the agency’s Political Action and Liaison Department, which is tasked with facilitating cooperation between the Mossad and foreign intelligence agencies.

According to Israel’s privately owned Channel 13 television, Israel’s Ministry of Justice is currently handling an official complaint, according to which Cohen has been having “a close relationship” for the past two years with a woman who is not his wife, and who is believed to be a flight attendant. Additionally, the complaint claims that Cohen shared classified information with his alleged mistress during the course of their affair. According to Channel 13, the complaint has been handed over to the Attorney General of Israel, Avichai Mandelblit, who is reviewing it.

The Channel 13 report said Cohen has strongly denied the allegations, saying that “there is no flight attendant [and] there is no close relationship”. The former Mossad chief added that he had not been contacted by Attorney General Mandelblit about the complaint, or for any other reason. The television station gave no further information about the alleged complaint, the identity of the flight attendant, or the state of the Attorney General Mandelblit’s investigation.

Earlier this month, it was announced that Cohen would head the Israel-based investment arm of SoftBank, a Japanese-headquartered multinational conglomerate holding company, which specializes in investing in firms in the financial, energy and technology sectors of the economy.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 20 July 2021 | Permalink

US is far from rejoining Iran nuclear deal, Biden reportedly tells Mossad chief

Yossi CohenUNITED STATES JOE BIDEN reportedly told the director of Israel’s external intelligence agency, the Mossad, that Washington has “a long way to go” before rejoining a 2015 agreement aimed at halting Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The meeting between Biden and Mossad director Yossi Cohen reportedly took place last Friday, during Cohen’s visit to Washington last week, to discuss bilateral security issues with a series of American officials. On Thursday Cohen met with a number of Biden administration officials, including Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Brett McGurk, who is the National Security Council’s Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa.

The following day, the Mossad chief visited the White House to discuss a variety of “regional security issues” with Biden’s National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, and Central Intelligence Agency director William Burns. It was during that meeting, according to reports from Israel’s Channel 12 television, that the US president “dropped in” unexpectedly, allegedly in order to express his administration’s condolences for the fatal stampede that killed dozens in Israel last week. Biden’s unexpected appearance at the meeting was later confirmed by a spokesperson for the National Security Council.

During the weekend, however, a number of Israeli news outlets, as well as the American website Axios, cited “a senior Israeli official” who said that Biden’s appearance at the meeting was not an impromptu incident, but had actually been “pre-scheduled”. The US president wanted to “discuss Iran” with Cohen, according to Axios, and did so for “about an hour”. According to Israeli sources, Cohen shared Israel’s position that “it would be a mistake for the US to return to the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] without improving it first”. Biden did not directly respond to Cohen’s view of the agreement, but said that his administration was not yet ready to re-enter the agreement. He reportedly added that Washington would consult Israel on the matter.

Neither the White House nor the office of the Israeli prime minster have commented on these reports.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 04 May 2021 | Permalink

Jordanian news agency claims Mossad involvement in helping alleged coup plotter

A NEWS AGENCY IN Jordan has said that a man with alleged ties to Israeli intelligence offered protection to Hamzah bin Hussein, half-brother of Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who is reportedly under house arrest in Amman. Prince Hamzah is among at least 16 members of the Jordanian royal family and other senior officials, who were apparently arrested last week, with the government claiming soon afterwards that a coup to depose the country’s monarch had been averted.

Hours after his arrest, Prince Hamzah’s family leaked a video to the BBC, in which the King’s half-brother said he was under house arrest, and blamed the ruling family for corruption and for incompetence in dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Hamzah was Jordan’s crown prince until 2004, when he was stripped of his title by his half-brother. King Abdullah II has ruled the Hashemite Kingdom since the 1999 passing of his father, King Hussein, who ruled the country for nearly 50 years.

Hamzah claimed in the leaked video that he was being punished for participating in meetings in which Jordan’s “ruling system” had been criticized. This emerging dispute is rare in Jordan, as the royal family is extremely private and the media are strongly discouraged from reporting about internal splits and other disagreements among senior royals. This development also points to potential sources of instability in one of the Middle East’s few stable political entities. Critics claim that Jordan’s stability is an apparition that masks growing social angst amidst a state-run system of censorship.

On Sunday, Jordan’s largest news agency, Ammon, cited an “informed source” in claiming that an Israeli businessman made contact with Hamzah’s family and offered to fly them out of Jordan using a private airplane. The report also claimed that the businessman, Roy Shaposhnik, had previously been associated with Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency. Shaposhnik served as an adviser to Israel’s former Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, but is today primarily known for his company, RS Logistical Solutions, which is contracted for services by governments around the world.

In a subsequent media interview, Shaposhnik reportedly confirmed that he had offered to help Hamzah, because he was his “close personal friend”. But he denied ever having worked for the Mossad, saying he is simply “an Israeli living in Europe. I never served in any role in the Israeli intelligence services”. On Sunday, Israel’s Minister of Defense, Benny Gantz, said that the alleged coup plot was “an internal Jordanian issue”, but added that Israel was “prepared to assist Jordan as necessary” and cited the close security ties between Israel and Jordan.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 05 April 2021 | Permalink

American spy for Israel Jonathan Pollard gives rare interview to Israeli newspaper

Jonathan Pollard

JONATHAN POLLARD, AN AMERICAN who spied on his country for Israel in the 1980s, and is now free after spending 30 years in prison, has given a rare interview to Israel Hayom, Israel’s most widely distributed newspaper. Pollard, who is now 66, is a former intelligence analyst for the United States Navy. He was released from an American prison in 2015, after serving a lengthy sentence for selling US government secrets to Israel. Throughout Pollard’s time in prison, the government of Israel lobbied for his release, but failed to have Pollard freed prior to serving the entirety of his sentence. Initially barred from leaving the United States, the former spy was eventually allowed to relocate to Israel by the administration of US President Donald Trump. He and his wife arrived in Israel in December, where they received a hero’s welcome.

A few snippets from Pollard’s interview with Israel Hayom were published on Monday. The paper said that the full interview, edited for brevity, will be published on Friday. In his comments, Pollard defends his decision to share US government secrets with Israel as a “duty” that he says he felt compelled to carry out, claiming: “I know I crossed a line, but I had no choice”. He adds that Washington was “stabbing Israel in the back” by refusing to share intelligence about Arab militaries, which included “serious” threats to the security of the Jewish state.

Pollard claims that he secretly managed to warn his Israeli recruiter, Aviem Sella, who did not have diplomatic immunity in the United States, and who was able to escape arrest in the US. Sella was pardoned by the Trump administration late last year. But Pollard also criticizes the decision of the Israelis to not give him protection at their embassy in Washington, DC, where Pollard tried to claim asylum as he was being followed by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. The former spy also describes his life in Israel as “wonderful” and says he can tell the Israeli people see him as “someone [who] was willing to sacrifice his life for them”.

Israel Hayom, which interviewed Pollard, was founded by the Sheldon Adelson, an American casino magnate who was a major financial backer of Donald Trump until his death in January of this year. Adelson was also a major supporter of Israel’s current Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The Associated Press notes that Adelson sent his private plane fly Pollard and his wife to Israel in December, after the former spy was permitted to leave American soil by the Trump administration.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 23 March 2021 | Permalink

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