Turkey, Israel foil Iranian assassination attempt on Israeli businessman - report

The target of the operation was an Israeli businessman, in retaliation for the killing of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in 2020.

A Turkish flag flutters atop the Turkish embassy as an Israeli flag is seen nearby, in Tel Aviv, Israel June 26, 2016 (photo credit: REUTERS/BAZ RATNER)
A Turkish flag flutters atop the Turkish embassy as an Israeli flag is seen nearby, in Tel Aviv, Israel June 26, 2016
(photo credit: REUTERS/BAZ RATNER)

Turkish and Israeli intelligence forces came together to foil an assassination attempt of Israeli businessman Yair Geller, according to Turkish media.

The alleged assassination attempt, which in this case included a team of nine, is in response to the killing of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in 2020, which Iran has attributed to Israel, according to Turkish and Israeli media reports. It is unclear what Geller's connection is. 

"I am an Israeli businessman in Turkey with an engineering research and development company. I was informed that the Iranians are tracking and are attempting to assassinate me," Geller told KAN in the first response to Israeli media on the story. 

His company, CNC İleri Teknoloji, a metal machinery supplier for the automotive, aerospace and medical industries, is based in Istanbul. 

The Iranian cell tracked Geller and took photos of him in his home. Turkish intelligence was aware of the tracking movements done by the Iranian cell and reportedly shared the information with the Mossad once the activity neared operational status. 

ISTANBUL MAYOR Ekrem Imamoglu of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) addresses supporters from atop a bus outside city hall in Istanbul on June 27. (credit: HUSEYIN ALDEMIR/REUTERS)ISTANBUL MAYOR Ekrem Imamoglu of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) addresses supporters from atop a bus outside city hall in Istanbul on June 27. (credit: HUSEYIN ALDEMIR/REUTERS)

The cell was reportedly run by Yassin Tahermkandi, 53, an Iran-based intelligence officer, and Saleh Mushtag Bhighus, 44, his Turkish counterpart. Bhighus was among the eight arrested. 

Around this time last year reports circulated of Israeli involvement in Fakhrizadeh's death in the form of a "remote-controlled gun" that was smuggled into the country by the Mossad. 

Reportedly, the team responsible for smuggling it numbered more than 20 Israeli and Iranian nationals. 

Ties between Turkey and Israel have been warming up lately, with a renewed interest in relations expressed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and an expected visit to Ankara by Israeli President Isaac Herzog. 

On Monday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced in a press briefing that he is treading cautiously regarding relations with Turkey. 

Last week, Erdogan extended his wishes beyond diplomatic ties, suggesting the two countries work together to carry Israeli natural gas to Europe. 

Two days earlier, Erdogan met the president of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region, in a push towards a natural gas supply deal with Iraq. 

"We have now taken the Iraq issue on our agenda. We are now thinking about it. There may be a supply on the natural gas side from Iraq to Turkey," Erdogan said, adding Barzani had promised to facilitate talks.

Lahav Harkov and Reuters contributed to this report.