Development of future economic activities and the establishment of "an Iranian intelligence unit" in Israel. These were, the Shin Bet estimates, the goals of Ali Mansouri, an Iranian-born Belgian citizen who was arrested at Ben Gurion Airport.
An investigation will be completed in the coming days and an indictment on espionage charges may be served this week.
According to details gleaned during the investigation, Mansouri worked in Israel under the name Alex Manes and based himself at a hotel opposite the US Embassy
in Tel Aviv. He made sure to stay in a room with a balcony facing the sea, from which he could observe events at the embassy compound and monitor the security arrangements in place.
The Shin Bet is now examining whether he transferred any images to his handlers – some of which are easily obtainable online. They are also examining whether he was asked to photograph IDF
bases and track the movements of soldiers and security procedures.
Mansouri on the streets of Tel Aviv
Mansouri obscured all signs of his Iranian roots and visits there in recent years, and no Iranian stamps appeared on his Belgian
passport. His last visit to Israel took place in early September and lasted five days – at its end, just before he boarded a flight back to Brussels – Mansouri was arrested.
One of Mansouri's photos
The fact that he walked freely about Tel Aviv
caused, according to the Shin Bet, damage to national security. In addition, whether he succeeded in passing information on to his handlers is also being examined. Either way, it is estimated that the relatively early foiling of his plans prevented the establishment of an active Iranian intelligence infrastructure in Israel.
The US Embassy, as seen from Mansouri's room
The same activity – under the pretext of business – as part of the sale of glass from a Belgian company which had already signed a contract with one of the businesses int he country’s center – was supposed to bear intelligence fruits for years.
Photograph Mansouri took of Israeli street
The Shin Bet
said that the operations unit of the Revolutionary Guards
handled Mansouri, urging him to sign long-term contracts establishing relationships with Israeli companies.
For his activities, he was promised one million dollars. Investigators are also looking at whether Mansouri recruited other operatives to work under him.
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