Israeli media have quoted a senior security official as saying that three separate Iranian squads were operating in Turkey, trying to attack Israeli ciizens.
Ynet news website quoting the official late Friday [June 24] reported that at least one attack was thwarted in the last minute. The target of one of the Iranian squads was the former Israeli ambassador to Turkey and his wife.
“A squad watched over them and was on its way to assassinate them, but the attempt was prevented,” the source said.
Another squad tried to hit Israeli tourists. "Their murder was prevented at the last second. They captured the squad just before a deadly terrorist attack, just before a bullet in the head," he said.
Israel began warning its citizens not to travel to Turkey at the end of May and the alerts became more frequent in mid-June. Turkey announced on June 23 that it had arrested 8 people, five of them Iranians, who were plotting attacks.
Tensions soared between Iran and Israel with the assassination of a top Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) operative in Tehran on May 22. Two assailants on a motorbike fired several bullets at Col. Hassan Sayyad-Khodayari outside his home in broad daylight, prompting Iranian officials to accuse Israel of organizing the attack, and vowed revenge.
This incident was followed by more mysterious deaths of IRGC officers and weapons experts, which were again blamed on Israel that has not denied responsibility as it is engaged in a secret war with the Islamic Republic.
One apparent fallout of repeated killings and sabotage operations in Iran was the head of IRGC’s Intelligence organization who was abruptly dismissed on June 23. Hossein Ta’eb, who was in charge of the secretive organization in charge of both internal security and secrets operations abroad for more than a decade was reportedly pushed out by his rivals.
Iran International reported on Friday that according to its sources, other security and intelligence chiefs in Iran did not like Ta’eb’s push into their turfs and found his recent failures in preventing alleged Israeli attacks as an opportunity to ask the Supreme Leader to fire him.
The Israeli source told Ynet that his country’s tactics forced Ta’eb to make “a lot of mistakes”, which made it easier to stop the terror squads. The Iranian spy chief was under pressure to attack Israelis and that is when he lost temper and made mistakes, the source said.
Iran’s foreign ministry on Friday vehemently denied all reports about assassination plans in Turkey, calling them an Israeli plan to harm Tehran’s relations with Ankara. But some Turkish media reported that a group of Israeli tourists in the Biaoolo district, were stopped by Mossad agents as they entered their hotel and were whisked away in armored vehicles and returned to their country.
The source quoted by Ynet also said that warnings for Israelis not to visit Turkey still stand because there is the possibility of more Iranian squads still remaining in the country.