As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu headed for the U.S. to warn the international community against the perils of Iran's nuclear ambitions at the U.N. General Assembly, a gag order was lifted on Sunday revealing that Israel had recently arrested an Iranian agent sent to Israel by Iran's Revolutionary Guards.
The Shin Bet security agency has revealed that a Belgian citizen of Iranian descent was arrested at Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport earlier this month on suspicion that he had served as an Iranian intelligence agent.
The Shin Bet reported that the suspect, who they identified as Ali Mansouri, was allegedly recruited by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' special ops unit -- a body responsible for multiple terror attacks against Israeli targets around the world.
Mansouri, who entered Israel under his Belgian identity, had visited Israel three times, and tried to cultivate relationships with Tel Aviv business owners. The Shin Bet suspect that the relationships were meant to serve as a cover for diverse intelligence gathering. The suspect was allegedly expected to provide intelligence to the commanders of the Revolutionary Guards.
In his interrogation, Mansouri said that he had returned to Iran in 2007 after having left the country in 1980 with his family. He lived in Turkey until 1997, when he became a businessman and moved to Belgium. He received his Belgian citizenship in 2006, and subsequently changed his name to Alex Mans.
He said that he had been working to expand his business interests in Iran. It was the suspect's European citizenship that made him attractive to Iranian recruiters, the Shin Bet said.
In 2012, Mansouri began establishing business infrastructure in Israel that could provide cover for secret intelligence work. When he was arrested, the Israeli authorities recovered many photographs of various Israeli sites, including the American Embassy in Tel Aviv.