LONDON: The Iranian regime has purged senior leaders in its security apparatus, including a general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, amid fears that Israeli espionage has caused a recent spate of blunders and assassinations, the Telegraph reported.
The British daily said a senior general in the IRGC had been arrested on suspicion of spying for Israel a week after the corps’ intelligence boss Hossein Taeb lost his job.
Taeb was fired after several embarrassing security blunders, with Israeli officials describing the Iranian regime as “shocked” and “rattled.”
Israel scuppered an Iranian plot to kill Israelis in Turkey, publicly warning its citizens of an imminent attack and arresting several people allegedly linked with IRGC cells.
In May, Israel published a collection of Iranian documents that detailed threats to its nuclear program.
More recently — and most troublingly for the regime — two nuclear scientists were poisoned and killed at separate dinner parties, which Tehran suspects was carried out by Israel.
Israeli officials told the Telegraph that the recent mixture of information and attacking operations were part of a strategy called the “Octopus doctrine,” which compares the regime’s leadership to the head of an octopus and its various proxies and forces — such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and the IRGC across the region — as the tentacles.
But rather than limiting the effect of those tentacles, Israeli forces are now shifting to directly striking the head of the beast.
“The Iranians saw all of that information released by Israel as a huge slap in the face. And they were shocked. They were rattled by it,” an Israeli security official told the Telegraph, adding that the doctrine “has proven to be effective. It has caused shockwaves throughout the leadership of Iran.”
Iran analysts told the Telegraph that Taeb was a major figure in Tehran’s leadership, enjoying a close relationship with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
“His unceremonious sacking heralds more political purges within the regime as it faces growing domestic discontent and challenges to its regional policy,” said Dr. Reza Taghizade, a London-based Iran observer.
Dr. Kylie Moore-Gilbert, an Australian-British academic and former hostage of the regime, said Taeb was referred to as “The Judge” because he observed interrogation and hostage practices.
“Most theories for Taeb’s removal are due to IRGC Intel’s inability to prevent Israel from operating inside Iran’s borders, including conducting high-profile assassinations,” said Moore-Gilbert.
“The IRGC Intelligence Organization is not a professional intelligence agency, its members are recruited on the basis of ideological and religious affiliation, and everything is kept ‘in the family’ — you have to have contacts and already know people on the inside in order to get a foot in the door,” she added.
“As a result, many of its operatives are incompetent and poorly skilled for the job. Many of them lack a security mindset or a proper understanding of the conduct of espionage.”