LONDON: Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, has said it stopped three assassination attempts in Europe by operatives working for Iran.
It added that Tehran had sought to target a US general based in Germany, a French journalist, and a diplomat at the Israeli consulate in Istanbul, in retaliation for Israeli assassinations of senior Iranian figures.
Mossad said all three attempts were foiled thanks to intelligence gleaned from its operatives based in Iran.
In a rare admission of overseas activity by Israeli authorities, the government detailed how Mossad had captured and interrogated Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps member Mansour Rasouli, allegedly a member of Unit 840, which conducts IRGC operations overseas.
In an audio recording released to the Israeli press, Rasouli admitted to being ordered to “assassinate these three for the Islamic Republic,” before promising his interrogators not to carry out the attacks.
The unusual decision to release the information was reportedly sanctioned by Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet, senior Israeli officials told The Times, in order to put pressure on US President Joe Biden not to take the IRGC off the State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organization list.
The IRGC’s removal is a key condition of the signing of a new nuclear deal between Iran and other world powers, which Israel opposes. The targeting of a US general by the IRGC would make such a decision difficult to sanction.
Israel rarely admits to the activities of its operatives until years after the events have taken place for security reasons, and the release of information over the foiled assassinations is thought to have prompted discontent among some senior members of its security services.
In 2020, Mossad agents were responsible for the assassination of the head of Iran’s nuclear program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.
An Israeli source told The Times: “This is a message to Iran. They shouldn’t think they can plan assassinations like this and get away with it.”