An Iranian agent was arrested while trying to leave Israel on September 11, security sources announced on Sunday.The man had been sent to Israel to set up a base for Iranian intelligence and terrorism networks, the sources said.The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said the 55-year-old suspect had been recruited by Iran’s Quds Force, the extraterritorial unit responsible for special operations, terrorism and subversion run by the Revolutionary Guards Corps.
The suspect was found with photographs of the US Embassy and Ben-Gurion Airport.“During questioning, the suspect, Ali Mansouri, described entering Israel under a Belgian identity using the alias Alex Mans, as well as his recruitment and activation process by Iranian intelligence elements,” the Shin Bet said.Mansouri is a Belgian citizen and a businessman of Iranian origin, who was instructed to arrive in Israel and set up a business network that would serve as a covert base of operations for the Iranian regime to act against Israeli and Western interests, the investigation revealed. Iran offered him $1 million in exchange for his activities.Mansouri answered directly to the Quds Force, which is led by Khamed Abdallahi and Majid Alawi, both of whom are subordinate to the unit’s notorious commander, Qassem Suleimani, the Shin Bet added.
“This special operations unit is tasked with, among other things, carrying out terror attacks against Israel – both abroad and in Israel – and against other targets that Iran works against in the West and Middle East,” it said.He visited Israel on three occasions, and tried to forge links with business owners in Tel Aviv. Officers from the Shin Bet and the Israel Police’s Serious and International Crime Unit arrested Mansouri at Ben- Gurion Airport as he tried to board a flight to Europe on the evening of September 11.The Shin Bet suspects that Mansouri was building a business network as a front for an extensive Iranian intelligence and terrorism network in Israel.It provided a detailed biography of the suspect’s life. Born in Iran in 1958, Mansouri lived there until 1980, before moving to Turkey, where he stayed until 1997. It was then that he entered the world of business, and received a visa that allowed him to reside in Belgium, where he worked and married.In 2006, Mansouri, now divorced, received Belgian citizenship, and changed his name to Alex Mans to cover up his Iranian identity, the investigation revealed. In 2007, he returned to Iran, from where he tried to broaden his business activities in the three countries he knew best: Iran, Belgium and Turkey. He continued to travel between the three states, married an Iranian woman, and allegedly drew the attention of Iranian intelligence recruiters, due to his international business background.Mansouri specialized in selling windows and roofing solutions to stores and restaurants, and tried to sign supply contracts with potential customers in Tel Aviv. He presented himself as a Belgian businessman, and would refer them to websites and Facebook accounts that documented his business activities.In 2012, the Quds Force asked him to work on it behalf in Israel, the Shin Bet said.
He visited Israel in July 2012, January 2013 and, most recently, came on September 6, for a visit that ended in his arrest.Security services found in his possession many photographs of sites in Israel, some of which are of interest to Iranian intelligence agencies, such as the US Embassy building in Tel Aviv.During questioning, Mansouri divulged information about his handlers, including details about Haji Mustafa, a senior Quds Force headquarters operative, who met with Mansouri and received updates about his missions in Israel; Hajai Hamid Na’amti, a Quds Force liaison; and Mahdi Hanababai, Mansouri’s guide during his time in Israel.Mansouri described how his handlers ordered him to cover up his flights to Iran, which he would take after his visits to Israel for debriefings and instructions.Public defense lawyers representing Mansouri said that their client is a Belgian businessman who is not motivated by any pro-Iranian agenda.The attorneys, Michael Orkavi and Anat Ya’ari, said their client had been denied access to a lawyer for nine days. They added that a more complex picture existed than the one security services were presenting, and that the full details would emerge in court after Mansouri was charged.Israel views the Quds Force as being responsible for the terrorist attack that seriously wounded the wife of an Israeli diplomat in Delhi, India, in February 2012.During the same month, there were additional botched attacks attributed to the Quds Force on Israeli targets in Thailand and Georgia.The Quds Force was also behind attacks on Israeli targets in Azerbaijan, Kenya and Nigeria that were foiled in recent years, security services said.An official traveling with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as he is set to meet with President Barack Obama in the US said that the affair was further proof that Iran’s word could not be trusted.“While the Iranian president sweet-talks the West, the ayatollah’s Revolutionary Guards continue in their attempts to hurt Western interests in the Middle East, as is evidenced by the fact that the Iranian spy that was caught gathered intelligence on the US Embassy in Israel,” the official said.Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this story.