Published: 02 April, 2012, 12:29
AFP Photo / Abbas Momani
Israeli intelligence are scaling down their covert operations in Iran and spy recruitment, Israeli security officials say. This would also imply a cutback in alleged high-profile missions such as assassinations and detonations at missile bases.
Senior security officials told TIME magazine that the move was met with “increased dissatisfaction” by Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency. One security official said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was afraid that the operations would get exposed by Iran. The official notes that this fear is primarily driven by Mossad’s failure to assassinate Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal back in 1997, when Netanyahu served his first term as Prime Minister.
“Bibi [Benjamin Netanyahu] is traumatized from the Mashaal incident,” the official said. “He is afraid of another failure, that something will blow up in his face.”
Western intelligence officials told TIME that Iran had uncovered one cell trained and equipped by Mossad. They also said that the televised confession of Majid Jamali Fashid, who admitted to being an Israeli spy behind the plot to assassinate nuclear scientist Massoud Ali Mohmmadi, was genuine.
If similar revelations emerge now, they could undermine the international effort to pressure Iran to give up its nuclear program via sanctions and diplomacy. Iran could effectively blame Israel for an aggressive spy campaign. This could also have ramifications for Israel’s relations with the United States, which has lately been opposed to a preliminary Israeli strike against Iran.