Iran's intelligence agency logo
Iran's intelligence agency logo

The General Security Services (GSS) recently uncovered a new effort to recruit Jews with family or other interests in Iran into the service of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and National Security (VEVAK), the Islamic Republic's chief intelligence agency. According to information released by senior GSS officials on Tuesday, at least ten Israelis have passed the first stage of recruitment and have received money from Iran. All ten were recruited when visiting relatives in Iran, but none have been indicted, as they had not yet passed any information on to their handlers.

According to a senior GSS source, the last year has seen an increase in Iranian

At least ten Israelis have received money from Iran.

intelligence activities targeting Israel, including approximately 100 attempts by Iranian agents to recruit Israeli Jews visiting family members in Iran. In exchange for the promise of information about events in Israel, the Islamic Republic has paid thousands of US dollars to Israeli Jewish collaborators.

The recruitment process begins at the Iranian Consulate in Turkey, where Israelis who wish to visit Iran go to obtain entry permits. There are no current restrictions on Israelis visiting the Islamic Republic, which has not been legally declared an enemy state. Israelis seeking entry to Iran are grilled for information in Turkey by agents of VEVAK presenting themselves as consular diplomats. The Israelis are asked about their family ties and military service, as well as about political and social issues in the Jewish State, among other topics. In some cases, Israelis have been questioned for hours on end in an isolated room inside the Iranian Consulate.

Once in Iran, the visiting Israeli identified by the Iranian agents as a potential recruit is put through a lengthy series of interviews with VEVAK agents. There have been cases of Israelis refusing to cooperate with the Iranian authorities at this stage, leading to their arrest for several months.

Once an Israeli tourist has been successfully recruited, the VEVAK agents may request seemingly innocuous tasks of them upon their return home. Israelis have been asked to do such things as provide Iran with pictures of certain places in Israel, identify key figures in Israeli society and recruit an acquaintance as an agent for Iran, as well.

Israelis have been questioned for hours on end in an isolated room inside the Iranian Consulate.

"I see Israeli Jews leaving the country for business or family visits in Iran, where they are recruited for the purposes of spying, as a serious phenomenon," a GSS official stated. "This time, we did not file charges, but in the future, we will not restrain ourselves from prosecuting such people."

Commenting on the reports of Israeli Jewish spies in the employ of Iran, Knesset Member Aryeh Eldad (National Union-NRP) said that the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee must quickly finalize the draft of his legislative bill defining Iran as an enemy state. Eldad submitted the bill several months ago, in an effort to fill the legal lacuna left by Israel's previous friendly relations with the Persian state under the Shah who was deposed in 1979. Eldad said that if the process is given top priority, the draft law could be completed and brought to the plenum within a week.