Israel arrests Belgian citizen for ‘spying for Iran’

A Belgian citizen has been arrested in Israel on suspicion of spying on behalf of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The man, Alex Mans, was arrested two weeks ago, but the Israeli government kept the incident under wraps until Sunday. Israeli media reports state that Mans was arrested by Israeli Police and officers of Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service. He was reportedly detained at Ben-Gurion International Airport as he was preparing to leave Israel. According to Israeli security officials, Mans made frequent trips to Israel, during which he presented himself as a Belgian investor interested in export opportunities in Israel. He allegedly used his business venture in selling windows and roofing material for commercial buildings in order to establish contacts with businesses in Tel Aviv. But officials at Shin Bet maintain that Mans’ business operations, which included seemingly legitimate websites and social media profiles, served as a cover for his spy activities. These are alleged to have included “intelligence gathering [and support for] terrorism”, as well as efforts to “bypass the embargo on trade and financial transactions with Iran”. Israeli security officials believe that Mans was born in Iran in 1958 and had the name Ali Mansouri. He is thought to have moved to Turkey in 1980, aged 22, where he lived for nearly 20 years. In 1997 he received an immigration visa to Belgium, where he met and married a Belgian citizen and changed his name to Mans. Soon afterwards, however, he divorced, and in 2007 he moved back to Iran, where he married a local woman. According to Israeli media reports, Mans told Shin Bet interrogators that he was approached in 2012 by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and offered up to $1 million to spy on Israel on behalf of the Iranian government. He reportedly agreed and was handled by Haji Mustafa, of the IRGC’s Special Operations Unit. Read more of this post

Israel used Facebook to stop European pro-Palestine activists



Israeli intelligence services managed to stop dozens of European pro-Palestine activists from flying to Israel, by gathering open-source intelligence about them on social media sites, such as Facebook. According to Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor, intelligence gathered on Facebook formed the basis of a blacklist containing over 300 names of European activists, who had signed up on an open-access Facebook page of a group planning nonviolent actions in Israel this summer. Israeli intelligence agencies forwarded the names on the lists to European airline carriers, asking them not to allow the activists onboard their flights, as they were not going to be allowed into the country. This action prompted airline carriers to prevent over 200 activists from boarding scheduled flights to Israel. Israeli security officers detained over 310 other activists, who arrived in Israel on several European flights last week. Of those, almost 70 were denied entry to the country, while more detentions are expected to take place later this week, according to Israeli Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabine Hadad. Read more of this post

Analysis: Inside the US-Israeli intelligence relationship

US embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel

US embassy, Israel

Yossi Melman and Dan Raviv, authors of Friends in Deed: Inside the US-Israel Alliance, have produced a lengthy, well-researched and up-to-date essay on US-Israeli intelligence relations. The essay, which appears in the latest issue of Tablet, carefully examines the highly complex subject of the CIA’s associations with the Mossad and Shin Bet. The fact is that, despite their unquestionable alliance Israel and the US have for years been among each other’s primary intelligence targets. Melman and Raviv correctly remind us that, by as early as 1954, US officials at the US embassy in Tel Aviv had already discovered several microphones in the office of the ambassador. Two years later, US counter-surveillance experts uncovered electronic bugs at the Tel Aviv residence of a US military attaché. Since then, the use of bribes and even women by the Shin Bet to lure US embassy guards has been frequent –and mostly unsuccessful. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0198

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News you may have missed #0027

  • Former KGB captain still fighting deportation from Canada. IntelNews has been keeping an eye on the case of Mikhail Alexander Lennikov, whose deportation from Canada has been ordered by a court. Lennikov, a former KGB captain, claims that if deported back to Russia he will be treated as a defector by the FSB. IntelNews has also learned that Lennikov now maintains a public blog, which he updates daily.
  • New book claims Errol Flynn worked as a Nazi spy. The Australian-born star, who became a Hollywood legend in the 1930s, was known for his anti-Semitic views. But now a new book claims that declassified CIA files prove Flynn collaborated with German Nazi intelligence in gathering information on German socialists who fought in the Spanish Civil War.
  • Iranian spying allegations nonsensical, says France. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said that Tehran’s claims that 23-year-old French student Clotilde Reiss was a spy in Iran are “stupid”. “Do you think my country would be so naive and shorthanded as to send a 23-year-old woman to spy in Iran? That’s stupid, it’s not possible”, said Mr. Kuchner during a visit to Lebanon.
  • Interesting account of Israel’s only spy history memorial. Matti Friedman, of The Associated Press, has written an interesting account of the little known Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center in Tel Aviv.

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