Iran is recruiting British Muslims for espionage activities targeting Jews and dissidents in the U.K., the Daily Mail reported exclusively.
Individuals associated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps allegedly approached British Shia Muslims during pilgrimages to religious sites in Iran and Iraq and urged them to gather intelligence upon returning to the United Kingdom. Tasks allegedly include surveilling prominent British Jews and synagogues and monitoring U.K.-based Iranian dissidents.
Washington has designated the IRGC, a multi-service primary branch of the Iranian armed forces, as a terrorist organization since 2019.
The Daily Mail also reported that Israeli officials issued increased alerts to the United Kingdom, expressing concerns about attacks orchestrated by Iranians or their proxies. Experts warn of Iranian espionage efforts extending to British universities, with students on state scholarships allegedly serving as spies.
The report also notes collaboration between the IRGC and organized criminal networks for operations on U.K. soil, using information gathered by British spies.
The targeting of Iran International, a Farsi-language channel based in London, underscores the threat posed by Iranian espionage networks. The channel temporarily relocated to the United States in 2023 following threats to its employees’ safety by Tehran.
Exchange programs between the London-based Islamic College and Al-Mustafa International University in Qom, Iran, raise further security questions, given that the U.S. Treasury Department has sanctioned the latter institution for being an IRGC recruitment ground.
Anthony Glees, a professor and terrorism expert, told the Daily Mail that “British Iranians need to be very careful when they go back to Iran.”