Iran says it captured Israel-backed ‘terrorist team’ (WASHINGTON POST) By Thomas Erdbrink TEHRAN, IRAN 04/10/12)
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TEHRAN — Iranian security forces have arrested an Israeli-
backed “terrorist team” that was planning attacks inside Iran, the
Intelligence Ministry announced Tuesday, four days before crucial
nuclear talks with world powers.
The announcement, reported by the state-run Islamic Republic News
Agency (IRNA), said that “terrorists, backed by the Zionists,” were
arrested after months of intelligence operations in central and
border provinces and that the “Zionist regional headquarters” was
discovered in another country in the region. The ministry did not
specify when or where the arrests were made or say how many alleged
terrorists were rounded up. In Iran’s ideological vocabulary, Israel
is called the “Zionist state.”
Although the report did not name the regional country, Iranian media
in recent months have quoted several officials as saying that
neighboring Azerbaijan has sheltered operatives plotting attacks in
The Intelligence Ministry said security forces identified and
arrested all of the team’s members before they implemented their
plan, IRNA reported.
Like previous Iranian reports on arrests of spies and terrorists,
Tuesday’s assertion could not be independently verified. It comes as
Iran and world powers prepare to meet Saturday in Istanbul for their
first nuclear negotiations in more than 13 months.
Describing firefights during some of the arrests, IRNA quoted an
unidentified Intelligence Ministry official as saying that “heavy
bombs, machine guns, handguns, silencers, military and
telecommunications equipment and other terrorist tools” were
discovered during several raids. No further details were provided.
Israel’s government declined to comment on the Iranian announcement,
Israeli news media reported.
Authorities in Tehran have feared fresh assassination attempts on
scientists connected to Iran’s controversial nuclear program, after
four rush-hour killings of physicists and atomic experts in the past
Iranian leaders have accused the United States, Britain and Israel of
organizing the assassinations. Iran was also rocked last year by a
series of mysterious explosions that damaged strategic gas pipelines
and a key missile base. But the government has stopped short of
accusing its enemies of fighting a covert war on its territory.
There have been signs, however, that Iran is increasingly involved in
an intelligence cold war with the United States and its allies.
In October, U.S. officials said they had foiled a plan backed by the
elite Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps to assassinate
the Saudi ambassador to Washington with the help of a Mexican drug
cartel. Iran denied any involvement in the alleged plot, calling it
a “bad Hollywood scenario.”
According to the Associated Press and ABC News, U.S. officials in
November acknowledged that dozens of operatives working undercover
for the CIA had been arrested in Iran and Lebanon, with most feared
dead or in prison.
In December, Iran said it had brought down an advanced U.S. stealth
drone, the RQ-170 Sentinel, in its airspace. U.S. officials said the
unmanned aircraft malfunctioned and crashed. (© 2010 The Washington
Post Company 04/10/12)
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