Iranwire – Iranian authorities are increasingly resorting to accusations of espionage when setting out to silence dissent, justify the inefficiencies of the Islamic Republic and secure additional funding for military and paramilitary institutions.
Intelligence and security agencies routinely accuse those who attempt to uphold the rule of law, fight for their livelihood, protest to demand more freedoms and women’s rights of being “spies” or “infiltrators.”
The Islamic Republic boasts of having the strongest intelligence agencies in the world, but secret information regarding the country’s nuclear program and other sensitive activities has been stolen and exposed by the Israeli government. Top members of the security apparatus and nuclear scientists have also been assassinated inside Iran in recent years.
Everyone is a Spy
During a meeting with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on January 3, commanders within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) warned that spying activities is affecting all levels of the Islamic Republic.
Alijuma Malik Shahkoei, the commander of the Golestan army, told the gathering that the “leakage and spread of information” was the primary issue plaguing the security and intelligence agencies.
He said that the amount of information being disseminated via internal networks and the media has reached a crisis level.
Shahkoei reported that 40 “important personnel” under his command have been accused of “leaking information.”
In June 2022, various reasons were given for the dismissal of Hussein Tayeb, who was heading the IRGC Intelligence Organization, including the agency’s failure to protect nuclear and military sites.
Over the past three years, such sites both inside and outside the country have been repeatedly targeted, raising suspicions about the presence of “infiltrators” within the security services.
Mohammadreza Hassani Ahangar is the president of Imam Hussain University, which trains IRGC troops.
He told the meeting with IRGC commanders that some of the students engaged in espionage activities.
He said that the students and graduates can use their “contacts with international companies” to sell information to foreign intelligence services.
Spies in the Elite Quds Force
Over the past three years, Israel has launched air strikes on Iranian positions in Syria, causing the death of members of the Islamic Republic’s expeditionary Quds Force and significant damage to its infrastructure in the country.
Since its creation during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, the Quds Force has extended its operations, providing training to militant groups such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah and carrying out attacks against opponents of the Islamic Republic across the world.
In October 2022, Israeli officials claimed that the country’s military has destroyed about 90 percent of Iran’s military infrastructure and attempts to entrench itself, with Hezbollah, in Syria.
During the January 3 meeting, Rahim Noei Aqdam, the commander of Hazrat Zeinab’s Quds Army camp in Syria, said that Israel’s military successes in Syria showed that “the infiltration of the Islamic Republic’s military forces has reached unimaginable levels, including the sale of intelligence information.”
There’s Always Been Spies
The upper echelon of the IRGC and the military was affected by significant changes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed in 2018 a huge archive of stolen Iranian nuclear plans.
Jamal Haji Zawarah, an air force employee, was arrested in 2017 and executed a few months later in an IRGC “safe house,” according to Iran Human Rights Organization.
In December 2018, news spread that an IRGC general, Abdullah Abdullahi, was arrested in Dubai with $100 million in cash.
At around the same time, it was announced that IRGC member Arslan Khudkam would be sentencedto death for allegedly collaborating with the opposition in exile.
In recent years, Iranian nuclear facilities and scientists have been targeted by attacks attributed to Israel.
Tehran blames Israel for the 2020 assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, near Tehran.
Fakhrizadeh had been described by western and Israeli intelligence services as the head of a covert atomic bomb program halted in 2003.