Iran arrests 12 Baha'i people accused of spying for Israel

Iranian news agency IRNA reported that the Ministry of Intelligence and National Security of the Islamic Republic arrested 12 followers of the Baha'i faith on suspicion of spying for Israel.

 An Iranian woman holds a Hezbollah flag during a protest to express solidarity with the Palestinian people amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence, in Tehran, Iran May 18, 2021. (photo credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)
An Iranian woman holds a Hezbollah flag during a protest to express solidarity with the Palestinian people amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence, in Tehran, Iran May 18, 2021.
(photo credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)

Twelve members of the Baha'i faith were arrested on suspicion of spying for Israel in Iran's northern Mazandaran province, Iranian news agency IRNA reported on Saturday night.

According to the report, two of the heads of the organization were trained at the World House of Justice, located in the Baha'i Center in Haifa, and set up a spy cell with other members of the organization throughout the northern district.

The Ministry of Intelligence and National Security of the Islamic Republic said that "the members of the organization communicated in secret, relying on the basis of messages sent from Haifa and the Zionist regime. These messages were used by the organization's members in the country."

The Director of General Intelligence for Mazandaran Province stated that "any activity of espionage networks linked to the Zionist regime for anti-revolutionary activity is closely monitored by the intelligence, and their agents will be dealt with decisively."

Iran's previous arrests of members of the Baha'i faith

An Iranian man holds a Palestinian flag during a protest to express solidarity with the Palestinian people amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence, in Tehran, Iran May 18, 2021. (credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)An Iranian man holds a Palestinian flag during a protest to express solidarity with the Palestinian people amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence, in Tehran, Iran May 18, 2021. (credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)

This is the second time that Iranian intelligence reports arrests made on suspicion of spying for Israel from the Baha'i faith.

In early August, it was reported that the "key figures in the Baha'i faith" had been arrested on espionage charges. 

The Iranian Defense Ministry said that they were "members of the central leadership of the religion" and that they were "directly connected to the World House of Justice Center, based in the city of Haifa in occupied Palestine."

Iran reported that intelligence documents indicated that the center was linked to a "Zionist espionage network." It was also reported that "the network has been tasked with various tasks, including the widespread dissemination of the Baha'i religion and the infiltration of educational groups in Iran."

In July, Iran reported another espionage squad for Israel, they claimed. According to the report, the country's security forces detained a network of Israeli agents who, according to the Iranian information ministry, "were sent to carry out terrorist activities and were identified by undercover forces before they were able to carry out sabotage."

According to the information ministry's announcement, "the network members, who were in contact with Mossad agents through a neighboring country, entered Iran through Kurdistan using up-to-date technological means. The agents were detained with weapons and explosives intended for unprecedented sabotage purposes in sensitive areas. They also carried in their possession technical equipment and communications equipment that were discovered and confiscated."