Mossad head: Israel will defend itself, deal or no deal, Iran not immune

"Once the deal is signed," he said, "there will be no restraint on Iranian terror" with the huge sums of money that will be given to the Islamic Republic.

A drone is launched during a military exercise in an undisclosed location in Iran, in this handout image obtained on August 25, 2022. (photo credit: IRANIAN ARMY/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY)/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
A drone is launched during a military exercise in an undisclosed location in Iran, in this handout image obtained on August 25, 2022.
(photo credit: IRANIAN ARMY/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY)/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

The Mossad has thwarted dozens of planned terrorist attacks this year against Israelis and Jews worldwide, Mossad Director David Barnea revealed Monday in his first public speech since taking office in June 2021.

“We thwarted dozens of Iranian terrorist attacks [against Israelis and Jews],” he said at the ICT Herzliya conference. “We stopped attacks in Cyprus against a businessman.

In Turkey, we stopped attacks against businessmen and diplomats” and ordinary visitors, and “in Colombia, we saved a businessman” there, as well as in many other places.

“This state terrorism ordered by [Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and] perpetrated by the IRGC and other Iranian security organizations” is not spontaneous, but are planned systematic and strategic terrorist acts, Barnea said.“It is not the Islamic Republic of Iran; it is the terrorist republic of Iran,” he said.

“It is not the Islamic Republic of Iran, it is the terror republic of Iran,” he said.

The decade of Islamic terror

“This has been the decade of Islamic terrorism,” Barnea said, which includes the “fall and rise of al-Qaeda, terrorism from Palestinians, Hezbollah and Iran.”

Over the past few months, he said, Israeli intelligence thwarted terror attacks on Israelis and Jews specifically in Turkey, Greece and Colombia operated by Iranian terror cells.

 Mossad head David Barnea at the ICT conference at Reichman University, September 12, 2022. (credit: INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR COUNTER TERRORISM, REICHMAN UNIVERSITY) Mossad head David Barnea at the ICT conference at Reichman University, September 12, 2022. (credit: INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR COUNTER TERRORISM, REICHMAN UNIVERSITY)

What about the nuclear deal?

Addressing the likelihood of a renewed nuclear deal with Iran, Barnea said: “Once the deal is signed, there will be no restraint on Iranian terrorism,” with the huge sums of money that will be given to the Islamic Republic.

"Iranian terror is a set part of the Iranian threat to many countries all over the world. It is a central aspect of the ayatollahs world view."

Mossad head David Barnea

The probes opened by the International Atomic Energy Agency into sites of enriched uranium cannot be closed, despite Iran’s demands, as this will only lead to nuclear escalation, he said.

Barnea said Iran is trying to “perpetrate terrorism on US and EU territory,” citing its planned assassination of Trump administration national security advisor John Bolton and secretary of state Mike Pompeo.

“Iran talks with the US about the nuclear program while trying to murder Americans,” he said.

“If Iranian proxies come after us, we will hit Iran directly,” he added. “We will convince the leader [Khamenei] that terrorism is too costly.”

Mossad head calls for diplomatic, economic punishments

Barnea said the world should continue to impose diplomatic and economic costs on Iran for its terrorism and nuclear activities. Several days ago, Albania cut ties with Iran over a mega-cyber attack against the country.

His remarks came days after he delivered critical intelligence to CIA Director William Burns, after which the Iran nuclear talks appear to have been put on hold until after US midterm elections in November.

In 2019, Barnea’s predecessor, Yossi Cohen, chose the Herzliya forum to disclose progress toward regional normalization between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

Later at the conference, former IDF Intelligence chief Aharon Zeevi Farkash said the political echelon leading Israel does not know how completely unprepared the country’s home front is against the full fury of Hezbollah’s rockets. A massive conceptual and practical shift for the home front is needed to cope with such a scenario, he said, adding that it may be necessary to preemptively strike Hezbollah.

Preemptive action would give Israel the element of surprise and would improve home-front security and allow Israel to control the public-relations and legal narrative, Farkash said.

He warned that Israel would need to define its goals and to differentiate Hezbollah from the Lebanese government and the Assad regime in Syria, but it could not expect to destroy Hezbollah’s influence over Lebanese affairs.

Former IDF Intelligence analysis chief Yossi Kuperwasser promoted a potential preemptive strike against Hezbollah together with experts ICT assembled to study such a scenario.

As Israel ponders a preemptive strike, Hezbollah is hinting it may be more ready to initiate conflict itself, he said.Outgoing senior Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) official Shalom Ben-Hanan warned that the Palestinian Authority could fall apart at any time, especially since its aging president, Mahmoud Abbas, could soon die.

If that happened, Israel could face a much more complex wave of terrorism, which until now the PA itself has helped restrain, he said. The PA has also been apathetic at times about containing terrorism emanating from the West Bank, for lack of a diplomatic horizon with Israel, he added.

Former senior police officer Zohar Dvor cautioned that unless Israel addresses all the problems of the Arab-Israeli sector, it could face new security challenges.

Following riots by some hotheads during the May 2021 Gaza War, IDF bases in the South close to Arab villages could be threatened, he said.

If some sections of the Arab-Israeli community turn on Israel, they could disrupt IDF access to places where Iron Dome batteries are located and disrupt transportation nationally, Dvor said.