Alleged Iranian spy indicted by Israeli prosecutors

Indictment states Ali Mansouri was recruited by Iran with the purpose of carrying out terror operations in Israel.

Ali Mansouri court 370 (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Ali Mansouri court 370
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
The Central District Attorney’s Office on Sunday filed an indictment with the Lod District Court against alleged Iranian spy Ali Mansouri on Sunday morning for spying and assisting an enemy in time of war.
Iran recruited Mansouri, 55, a dual Iranian-Belgian citizen, over the course of 2012 to carry out terrorist operations in Israel, the indictment said.
He visited Israel three times to establish fictitious corporations to serve as cover for creating a terrorist infrastructure, which would include at least one more Iranian agent who was expected to come to Israel, said the indictment.
Security forces arrested Mansouri at Ben-Gurion Airport on September 11, while he was trying to leave Israel, five days after he arrived in the country.
He acquired Belgian citizenship by marriage to a Belgian in 2005; the next year, he divorced her and changed his name to cover up his Muslim identity, the indictment said.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the indictment said he had several meetings with Iran’s Quds Force, the extraterritorial unit responsible for special operations, terrorism and subversion run by the Revolutionary Guards Corps.
His initial meeting was with Iranian intelligence agents Haji Hamid and Haji Moustafa at his office in Karaj, 20 km.
west of Tehran, in February 2012, said the indictment.
In April 2012, Mansouri’s brother, whom he knew had past involvement with Iranian intelligence, invited him to meet with Mahdi Hambabi, who introduced himself as the supervisor of the agents Mansouri had met with earlier and as a senior Iranian intelligence official.
Mansouri carefully covered his tracks to try to hide his espionage activities from the Israeli security establishment, according to the indictment.
His techniques for avoiding discovery included only traveling to Israel from European countries, and not from Turkey, where he also had business, said the indictment.
The indictment also alleged that he only traveled to Israel on his Belgian passport, always leaving his Iranian passport behind, that he bought a telephone for use only in Israel and that, except for once, he contacted his handlers in person in Iran and not by any electronic means in Israel or Europe.
In one incident, he tried to contact his handlers via the Internet in Belgium, did not succeed and was later rebuked.
Mansouri’s first visit to Israel started on July 29, 2012, and was for only a few days, but he began a longer visit on January 29, 2013, the indictment alleged. During his second visit he allegedly took photographs of various locations.
After each trip, his Iranian handlers carefully debriefed him about his activities and gave him instructions for his next trip, the indictment alleged.
Mansouri was found with photographs of a top-secret installation, the US Embassy and Ben-Gurion Airport, as well as a review of the security procedures at the airport, such as the types of questions asked to travelers, said the indictment.
Initially, Mansouri stuck to his cover story as instructed by his handlers while under interrogation, said the indictment.
However, during later questioning, “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.
Iran offered him $1 million in exchange for his activities, said the Shin Bet.
The prosecution asked the court to remand Mansouri to police custody until the end of the proceedings.Yaakov Lappin contributed to this story.