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Iranian foreign ministry spokesman announced Sunday December 19 that intelligence minister Ali Younessi would “soon” report to the government on an eight-member spy ring that gathered information for Israel. No further information was offered about the identities of the “spies,” the nature of the “information” they had gathered or when.
debkafile‘s intelligence sources classify this vague, unverifiable charge as a typical Iranian exercise to cover up a fiasco. (Only recently they claimed to have put unnamed al Qaeda terrorists on trial.) It came two days after DEBKA-Net-Weekly broke the story that Iranian and Iran-sponsored surveillance teams has been discovered hanging about outside Israel’s diplomatic missions in the United States, South America, West Europe and the Middle East. Team members rounded up by the American FBI and Egyptian intelligence in the last ten days admitted under interrogation that they were collecting information for Iranian intelligence.
Here is an excerpt from the DEBKA-Net-Weekly exclusive:
Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak gave Israel’s trade and industry minister Ehud Olmert some disturbing news on Tuesday, December 14, when the two countries signed an accord that grants certain Egyptian exports duty-free status in the United States.
The day before the Israeli minister’s arrival in Cairo, Egyptian security services arrested a group of Egyptian Islamic fundamentalists carrying out surveillance of the Israeli embassy in Cairo and monitoring the movements of Israeli diplomats and their families in the city. They told their interrogators they were working for Iran.
Jerusalem was not bowled over by this friendly tip from the Egyptian president.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s counter-terrorism sources report that foreign intelligence services have been telling Israel since late November that Iranian spy teams have been spotted outside Israeli missions in various parts of the world, including one nabbed by the FBI watching Israeli consulates in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Houston. It was made up of Iranian Americans, Arab and Pakistani students – some of them US citizens, and all activists belonging to Muslim fundamentalist groups.
They were perfectly aware that the data sent to Iranian intelligence was intended for use in hostage taking and bombing attacks against Israeli missions.
The notion of Tehran-instigated terrorist strikes in the middle of America’s main cities struck alarm in US intelligence agencies and Homeland Security department. Clearly, operations of this magnitude could not have been planned without top-level sanction from spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, or without the presence in America of an operational network. Although assigned with striking Israeli consulates, there is nothing to stop this network from expanding its mission to American strategic targets as well.
Of particular concern are the close ties evolving between Iranian intelligence and al Qaeda cells based inside the Islamic republic. US intelligence sources have learned that Khamenei in person has created a new clandestine umbrella organization for bringing together as an arm of his bureau all the al Qaeda-linked groups and likeminded movements.
US intelligence experts are certain that data gathered for Tehran by the captured Iranian surveillance team may well have reached al Qaeda, some of it passed deliberately. Osama bin Laden’s organization is believed to be plotting a major attack in the United States. The Islamic Republic is in the habit of using proxies for its terror campaigns, like the Lebanese Hizballah against Israeli targets. That Al Qaeda operatives are harbored in Iran and run cells in many countries make it a natural partner-in-terror.
In the wake of the round-up of Iranian teams, al Qaeda cells were also picked up in Brussels, Amsterdam, Madrid and the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo. Hizballah surveillance teams were rounded up in parts of West Europe.
The US interrogation of the Iranian surveillance team and sightings of other watchers have led Israeli intelligence and security chiefs to conclude that Tehran was plotting simultaneous terrorist strikes across America and other parts of the world, blowing up Israeli missions and Jewish centers and taking hostages in several places at once. The captured team may even have been feeding deeply buried terrorist cells set up to carry out this string of assaults and still at large.
Israel has accordingly put all its embassies, consulates and other missions, as well as airlines, shipping companies and overseas company offices on high terror alert. Security has also been stepped up at overseas Jewish institutions and schools.
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