The Counter Terrorism Bureau has recently reiterated a series of travel advisories urging Israeli tourists to be vigilant in their travels; while also urging countries frequented by Israelis to bolster security; citing that the successful terror attack against Israelis in Burgas will trigger additional attempts.
July's attack in Bulgaria, which claimed the lives of seven Israelis, is believed to be the handiwork of Iran.
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Now, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center is attempting to put a "face" on the threat. Its most recent report focuses on the Quds Force, which is believed to be the branch of Iran's Revolutionary Guards that heads its overseas' terror activities.
The report aims to outline the identities of armed branche's commanders and reveals its place within the Iranian regime's complex hierarchy.
According to the report, the Quds Force, which was founded in 1990, spearheads the Islamic Republic's terror operations abroad. It wages campaigns against the United States, Israel and pro-Western Arab countries by proxies such as Hezbollah and other terror groups, while making sure the Iranian regime is able to maintain plausible deniability.
Elusive strongman. Suleimani
Quds Force operatives often use their contacts – or in some cases embedded agents – in embassies, airlines, banks, shipping companies, and cultural and religious institutions, to carry out their nefarious plans.
Since 1998, the Quds Force has been headed by Major General Qassem Suleimani. The elusive Revolutionary Guards officer is considered one of the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's confidants; and under his leadership, the Quds Force has grown from an elite unit numbering a few hundred officers, to a force of 15,000 operatives.
Quds Force agents are stationed in Iranian embassies worldwide and are also embedded in various civilian organizations, such as charities and education and religious institutions; creating a de facto spider's web able to recruit local operatives to execute Iran's terrorist agenda almost anywhere.
The force includes various headquarters, from administrative ones, to ones on the ground that manage pre-defined geographic areas, such as Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Quds Force enjoys great prestige within Iran, as well as considerable resources.
Suleimani himself weighs in on the strategic decision making process Iran, especially when it pertains to sensitive issues of foreign policy and regarding Iran's activities in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Gaza Strip.
The Quds Force international special operations arm is known as "Unit 400" – it answers solely and directly to the Ayatollah Khamenei.
The unit – whose name was revealed only in 2011, by Britain's Sky News – routinely carries out acts of terror, while also organizing, training and funding various radical Islamist groups. The latter are mostly Shiite, but Unit 400 has been linked to several radical Sunni groups as well.
Unit 400 is headed by Hammed Abdullahi. His deputy, Majid Alawi, is Iran's former deputy intelligence minister – who is the unit's liaison to Hezbollah.
According to the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center's report, when Tehran decides to promote a terror attack, Khamenei himself gives Suleimani a direct order to that effect and he, in turn, gives one to Unit 400.
Scene of the Burgas attack (Photo: Avigdor Stern)
The unit's operatives activate the respective parts of the "web" to recruit foreign nationals, who then travel to Iran for training. They are then sent to their target destination via a third country, to cover up any link to the Islamic Republic.
So far, the Quds Force has noted only mediocre success in its attempts to attack Israeli and Jewish targets worldwide.
The most notable success was the terror attack against Israeli tourists in Burgas. Repeated failures, however, have been noted in the efforts to avenge the 2008 assassination of top Hezbollah operative Imad Mugniyah, as well as the assassination of several Iranian nuclear scientists.
The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center said Iran, encourage by the "favorable" results it achieved in Bulgaria, is likely to try and duplicate the success.
Tehran, the center added, might try to use its formidable "nuclear umbrella" to discourage nations from retaliating against it in the event of a terror attack on their soil.
The center also added that Iran is mostly likely to target US interests, as well as those of its Arab allies, especially Saudi Arabia.
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