The Covert War between Israel and Iran Slips from Real Life into Television, and Back

Were it not for “diverse operations, most of which are covert,” said the former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot in a recent interview, the Islamic Republic would have had nuclear weapons some seven years ago. Meanwhile, the ayatollahs have conducted their own share of cyberattacks, assassination attempts, and so forth in retaliation. The Mossad’s role in all this has even become the subject of a popular Israeli television drama, Tehran, which has made its way to Apple TV—and recently had a brush with reality, as Benny Avni writes:

An Iranian spy has reportedly attempted to infiltrate the set of an Emmy-winning television series, Tehran, and, in another case of life imitating art, Israel’s growing, real-life sabotage campaign inside Iran seems ripped off the pages of that series’ screenplay. The alleged Iranian plot targeting the fictional TV show was disclosed this week by its creator, Moshe Zonder. Despite its life-like street scenes, Tehran is filmed in Greece, far from the Iranian capital. There, according to Mr. Zonder, Iranian spies attempted to get an operator on the set.

At the same time, Israel seems to be intensifying a real-life campaign of attacks against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, complete with drone attacks and assassinations of Revolutionary Guards commanders. Whether Israel’s infiltration of Iran has really deepened recently, or just became more apparent, is unclear to this reporter. Yet, reports on sabotage operations for which Tehran blames Israel are ever more frequent.

The [New York] Times reported last week that Israel had alerted America in advance of the killing of a colonel of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Sayad Khodayari, who was shot with five bullets earlier this month near his home at Tehran, after which his motorcycle-riding assailants quickly disappeared. Israeli officials said that by disclosing to the Times that they were responsible for the IRGC bigwig’s demise, Washington could undermine future clandestine activities inside Iran.

The acclaimed success of [the] series Tehran and its vast viewership inside Iran, where the series is ostensibly banned, might also help Israeli agents to recruit at the Iranian capital. The arts often closely portray real life, but the reverse may also be true.

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Read more at New York Sun

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Mossad, Television

Why Is Iran Acquiring Property in Venezuela?

In June Tehran and Caracas concluded a major twenty-year cooperation treaty. One of its many provisions—kept secret until recently—was the transfer of 4,000 square miles of Venezuelan land to Iranian control. Although the territory is ostensibly for agricultural use, Lawrence Franklin suspects the Islamic Republic might have other plans:

Hizballah already runs paramilitary training centers in restricted sections of Venezuela’s Margarita Island, a tourist area northeast of the country’s mainland. The terrorist group has considerable support from some of Venezuela’s prominent Lebanese clans such as the Nasr al-Din family, who reportedly facilitated Iran’s penetration of Margarita Island. . . . The Maduro regime has apparently been so welcoming to Iranian intelligence agents that some of Hizballah’s long-established Latin American network at the tri-border nexus of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay has been overtaken by Hizballah activities on Venezuela’s Margarita Island.

Iran’s alliance with Venezuela most importantly provides Tehran with opportunities to target U.S. interests in Latin America and potentially the southern United States. Iran, along with the Chinese Communist Party, is in the process of strengthening Venezuela’s military against the U.S., for instance by deliveries of military drones, which are also considered a threat by Colombia.

While air and seaborne arms deliveries are high-profile evidence of Iran’s ties with Venezuela, Tehran’s cooperation with Venezuelan intelligence agencies, although less visible, is also intense. The Islamic Republic’s support for Hizballah terrorist operations is pervasive throughout Latin America. Hizballah recruits from Venezuela’s ten-million-strong Lebanese diaspora. Iran and Hizballah cooperate in training of intelligence agents and in developing sources who reside in Venezuela and Colombia, as well as in the tri-border region of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: Iran, Latin America, Venezuela