Iran and Israel have no relations to speak of, and have waged a decades-long covert war involving cyberattacks, sabotage strikes against one another’s commercial shipping, the assassination of nearly a dozen Iranian nuclear scientists by Israeli agents, and more.
Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence has announced that it has uncovered a “Mossad terrorist” sleeper cell plot to sabotage and destabilise the situation in the Middle Eastern nation.
“A network of agents of the Zionist regime (Mossad) has been dismantled and captured along with a large shipment of weapons and ammunition after arriving at the western border posts of the country,” the director-general of the Intelligence Ministry for Counter-Espionage Operations said in a statement Tuesday, with his remarks cited by Fars.
The unnamed official specified that the seized weapons included pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, and grenades, with arms reportedly meant to be “used to turn protests into riots” and to carry out assassinations.
The official further indicated that during the recent presidential elections in June, “the Zionist regime intended to carry out acts of sabotage in different parts of the country on several occasions,” but that “by taking timely action, [intelligence] prevented these acts of terrorist sabotage and dealt a blow to the Mossad terrorist network.”
The official said that the effort to uncover the terrorist sleeper cell was made possible through the monitoring of intelligence outside Iran, and extensive intelligence-operational measures by Iranian counterintelligence operatives. The Intelligence Ministry thanked members of the public, especially those in Iran’s western provinces bordering Turkey and Iraq, for their “constant vigilance,” and called on citizens to keep a lookout for any suspicious offers, especially online.
The ministry gave no word on how many alleged agents were captured, or their nationalities.
Demonstrations Over Water Shortages
Iran has experienced a wave of protests over severe water shortages, with the protests beginning in southwestern Khuzestan province weeks ago and spreading to Lorestan province since then. Authorities said “bullets shot by some unknown people” amongst peaceful demonstrators in the city of Aligoodarz, Lorestan caused the deaths of at least three people in that city. Elsewhere, the demonstrations are said to have remained largely peaceful.
The protests spread to the capital of Tehran on Monday, with dozens of demonstrators marching down a street in the city centre before peacefully dispersing amid a heightened security presence.
Droughts have left much of the country without sufficient drinking water and water supplies for agriculture, with meteorologists estimating that rainfall is down almost 50 percent this year compared to 2020, leading to catastrophic drops in dam reservoirs, wetlands and rivers. The shortages have prevented some farmers from watering crops, and forced others to cull their livestock, exacerbating an already difficult economic situation caused by Covid and crushing US sanctions.
String of Plots
Separately this week, the director of the Justice Ministry in Iran’s Fars province announced on Monday that 11 active members of a terrorist organisation had been identified and captured in the province, with 25 more arrested in six other provinces in the country’s eastern and western regions. The suspects were detained after releasing a series of threatening videos online, with large amounts of weapons and ammunition said to have been seized. The ringleaders are said to be based outside Iran, and the group is believed to have received intelligence and financial support from an unidentified European country and an unidentified ‘regional’ country.
On Tuesday, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards announced that two militants had been killed and another captured in West Azerbaijan province in the country’s northwest. The terrorists were said to be planning “sabotage and anti-security measures.” Another three suspects seeking to protect the individuals were also arrested, according to Fars.
On Saturday, Iranian media accused Edy Cohen, an Israeli historian and media commentator with connections to senior Israeli government officials, of actively encouraging separatism in Khuzestan after the scholar posted an image of himself sitting with the leader of the “National Liberation Movement of Ahwaz,” an Arab nationalist and separatist organisation with alleged ties to Saudi intelligence, on his Twitter page. Cohen boasted about Israel’s support for the organisation, which Iran categorises as a terrorist group, and taunted Arab states by suggesting that “the Jews are more honourable than” most Arab countries because of their support for the movement.
شاهدوا يا عرب. انتم يا عرب لم تدعموا الاحوازيين. نحن اليهود دعمناهم. عيب عليكم يا جبناء يا عبيد إيران.
اليهود اشرف منكم.
التاريخ لن يرحمكم يا عرب https://t.co/EXumzZv442
— إيدي كوهين אדי כהן 🇮🇱 (@EdyCohen) July 24, 2021
The tweet reads: “Watch, Arabs. You Arabs did not support the Ahwazis. We Jews supported them. Shame on you, you cowards, you slaves of Iran. The Jews are more honourable than you. History will not have mercey on you, Arabs.”