Tehran believes it can turn the tables on Israel's spy agencies, using the transition of Mossad directors from Meir Dagan to Tamir Pardo to catch the new man off-balance.
Iran's intelligence minister Heidar Moslehi boasted Tuesday, Jan. 11, that his agents had penetrated several of the Mossad networks operating inside Iran and among several of its neighbors. Gone were the days, he said, when Israel's clandestine agents and their Iranian hirelings enjoyed free rein in Iran as they did under Dagan.
He was giving Pardo due warning, DEBKA-Net-Weekly's intelligence and Iranian sources report, that he had ratcheted up the Iranian-Israeli intelligence contest and was taking aim at Mossad footholds among the Iran's neighbors in the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, the Caucasus, the Caspian region and Central Asia.
Moslehi told a news conference in Tehran that while Israel-linked networks had been set up among Iran's neighbors, "we… have created intelligence bases next to them through which we could strike heavy blows on [Israel intelligence]."
Tehran's latest offensive was sparked by a number of factors:
Iranian nuclear physicist's murder was never solved
One: An entire year went by after nuclear physicist Prof. Massoud Ali Mohammadi was murdered in Tehran without Iranian law enforcement laying hands on the culprits. Public pressure had been building up and so, Tuesday, June 11, the day before the first anniversary of the attack, was chosen for the intelligence minister to claim a breakthrough to a solution for a slaying that had stunned the regime and the country.
Mohammadi's car was booby-trapped outside his home by two helmeted motorcyclists and blew up when he took his seat. Iran's leaders never imagined that anyone knew the professor, officially described as a quantum field theorist and distinguished professor of elementary particle physics at the University of Tehran's Department of Physics, was also a head of Iran's military nuclear program. Officials were at a loss to explain to the public how his killers, assumed to be Mossad, knew his real job and his private address. They needed to produce answers – not least to calm the thousands of scientists, engineers and technicians employed in the program and their families, who have been living in fear of the Mossad's long arm ever since the assassination.
This pressure became acute when a second nuclear physicist, Prof. Majid Shahriari was killed and another, Prof. Majid Fereidoun Abbasi, was injured in coordinated attacks in Tehran on November 29, 2010.
Prof. Shahriari was in charge of the nuclear program's secret code systems and Prof. Abbasi, director of centrifuges at Natanz. Both were faculty members of Shahid Beheshti Space University in Tehran, a center of nuclear research.
A new mainstay for Iranian intelligence – the Turkish MIT secret service
Two: Iran had finally found In the Turkish intelligence agency, the MIT, a strong collaborator for its clandestine war against Israel. Its intelligence chiefs believe the partnership has grown solid enough for them to start relying on the MIT – and especially on its pro-Iranian director, Hakan Fidan – for support in their campaign against Mossad.
On August 1, 2010, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned that Ankara and Tehran were deepening their intelligence ties. He said: "The nomination in recent weeks of a new chief of the Turkish secret services who is a supporter of Iran worries us."
This warning, which was addressed to Washington, fell on deaf ears at the time.
Five months later, the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu are preparing to bolster Turkey's position in Iraq according to joint plans hatched by Turkish MIT chief Fidan and Iranian intelligence minister Moslehi.
Washington was finally stirred into pressing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to cancel their anticipated visits. And so, Ankara announced officially on Tuesday, Jan. 11, that Davutogul's visit to Iraq scheduled for Jan. 10-11 was postponed – but only for now. It is expected to take place in the next couple of weeks, with Erdogan arriving in Baghdad soon after his foreign minister.
This slight setback was not enough to dent the Iranian leadership's high expectations of Turkey's assistance in the intelligence war against the Israeli Mossad in countries like Qatar, Azarbaian, Turkmenistan, Armenia and others – not least because Ankara and Tehran share the same interest in cutting down Israeli influence in those places.
A confident Iran would scare its enemies into abandoning covert warfare
The intelligence minister therefore felt confident enough to threaten regional and neighboring countries at his press conference Tuesday for the first time that their interaction with Israel and any facility they provide the Zionist regime would be judged hostile to the region and the Islamic Republic.
Apparently referring to electronic tracking stations used to monitor military and nuclear activity in Iran, Moslehi stated those facilities would be seen as a legitimate target for Iran's "heavy blows."
Confidence and the undermining thereof is integral to Iran's latest intelligence-oriented campaign against its foes, DEBKA-Net-Weekly's intelligence and Iranian sources report.
Iran's intelligence minister Moslehi believes that if the Mossad's Tarmir Pardo, CIA Director Leon Panetta and the British MI6 chief John Sawers are confronted head-on with a new and more aggressive Iranian intelligence, backed by the Turkish, Syrian and Hizballah secret services, they will lose confidence in Meir Dagan's tactics, ditch them and re-evaluate their covert plans of operation against Iran.
Ahead in the coming days or even weeks, are therefore more TV interviews with "Zionist spies" freely describing their "terrorist training" and role in the assassination of Prof. Mohammadi – and other apparent crackdowns.
Iranian intelligence has more than one reason for highlighting these charges of Israeli espionage.
Using ties with Israel to smash Iranian opposition
1. Moslehi's minions are drawing up indictments for the trials of its leaders Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mahdi Karroubi framing them for collaboration with Israel and the West – an extreme charge subject to the severest penalties which the regime hopes will finally discredit and eradicate Iran's opposition Green Movement.
Supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei opened that door when he charged in a speech last week that last July's street demonstrations in Tehran against the alleged rigging of the presidential election were organized by Israel and the west and their leaders – Moussavi and Karroubi – had collaborated with the enemy.
2. Deterrence. The regime's opponents at home are put on notice they had better refrain from collaborating with the regime's enemies and foreign elements on pain of humiliating exposure – like Majid Jamali who was put on television Tuesday to admit he took part in murdering Prof, Mohammadi on behalf of Israel's spy service – followed by extreme penalties.
3. Intimidating Arab and Muslim governments and nationals into abandoning ties of cooperation with Israel.
4. Making an example of the Israeli Mossad for the benefit of Western governments. They are advised to bear in mind that Israel does not stand in the dock alone on charges of espionage, subversion and assassination. The US and Britain are frequently mentioned too as partners in the foreign intelligence conspiracy against the Islamic Republic of Iran and could experience the same roughshod treatment.