Turkey Busts Iranian Cell Planning attack on Israeli Tourists


Turkish riot police officers hold up their shields during a protest in Istanbul, Turkey, May 1. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Turkey has detained eight suspects allegedly working for an Iranian intelligence cell that planned to assassinate Israeli tourists in Istanbul, according to local media reports.

The eight, who are not all Iranian nationals, were detained in a raid last week in three houses in Istanbul’s popular Beyoglu district, the IHA news agency reports.

Israel has repeatedly urged its citizens in recent weeks not to travel to Turkey and to leave the country immediately because of “possible” threats from Iranian operatives.

IHA reported that Iran sent agents disguised as businessmen, tourists and students to Istanbul to assassinate Israelis. It added that the Iranians split into four groups of two assassins who could better track their Israeli targets.

“The hitmen in the assassination team, who settled in two separate rooms on the second and fourth floors of a hotel in Beyoglu, were detained with a large number of weapons and ammunition,” IHA reports.

Meanwhile, Iran dismissed the powerful chief of the Revolutionary Guards’ intelligence unit, Hossein Taeb, Iranian state media reported, days after Israeli media accused him of being behind an alleged Iranian plot to kill or abduct Israeli tourists in Turkey. The local news channel gave no reason for the change, but said Taeb had been appointed as an advisor to the Guards’ Commander-in-Chief Hossein Salami.

He will be replaced by Mohammad Kazemi, previously head of the Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Protection unit.

Before becoming the Guards Intelligence Chief in 2009, Taeb worked at the office of Iran’s top authority Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

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