Ankara busts Mossad cell working against Iran

Eleven members of a 15-strong team were reportedly detained.

The north bank of the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Aug. 30, 2011. Credit: Moyan Brenn via Wikimedia Commons.
The north bank of the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Aug. 30, 2011. Credit: Moyan Brenn via Wikimedia Commons.

Turkish intelligence officials arrested a cell operating on behalf of the Mossad against Iranian assets, local media claimed on Tuesday.

According to the reports, 11 members of the 15-strong team were detained on accusations of spying on an Iranian company and 23 persons with business ties to the Islamic Republic.

The National Intelligence Organization of the Republic of Turkey, MIT, reportedly uncovered the cell following an 18-month operation. At least one person arrested received training in Israel, said the reports.

They identified the leader of the cell as businessman Selçuk Küçükkaya.

Late last year, Turkish law enforcement and intelligence authorities said they detained 44 people on suspicion of “spying on Palestinians” on behalf of the Mossad, and placed seven under full arrest.

That, in turn, came after Turkey also claimed to have broken up a Mossad ring and put 15 people on trial for espionage.

Hamas maintains an active headquarters on Turkish soil, which it uses to orchestrate and fund terrorism in Judea and Samaria.

Nevertheless, Israeli and Turkish intelligence agencies last summer foiled a series of Iranian plots to attack Israeli targets on Turkish soil.

In one incident, a group of Israeli tourists in Istanbul were whisked to safety by Israeli security forces, narrowly avoiding an Iranian hit squad. The tourists received a telephone call from an Israeli security official warning them not to return to their hotel, where the Iranian cell was waiting for them.

Jerusalem and Ankara announced last August the restoration of full relations, with then-Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid saying that the move would “contribute to deepening ties between the two peoples, expanding economic, trade and cultural ties, and strengthening regional stability.”

In December, Israeli Ambassador to Turkey Irit Lillian presented her credentials to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, taking up a post that had been vacant for four years.

President Isaac Herzog in January accepted the credentials of Ankara’s new ambassador to Israel, Şakir Özkan Torunlar, who was named to the position in October.

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