A senior general in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corp was secretly arrested earlier this month for allegedly spying for Israel, according to a report published Wednesday by The New York Times.
Citing officials with close ties to the IRGC speaking on condition of anonymity, the report said the arrest of Brig.-Gen. Ali Nasiri marked a growing level of distrust among the country’s senior leadership partly attributed to Israel’s alleged recent operations in the country.
Nasiri served as a senior commander in the IRGC Protection of Information Unit, The New York Times reported.
His arrest came about two months after a few dozen security officials involved in Iran’s missile program were arrested for allegedly leaking classified information to Israel, the newspaper said.
Reportedly arrested sometime in early June, Nasiri’s arrest came shortly before the replacement of the IRGC’s intelligence chief Hossein Taeb.
Taeb, who held the position for more than 12 years, had been tasked with exposing Israel’s spy network in Iran, an unnamed adviser to the Iranian government and an individual affiliated with the IRGC both told the Times.
Taeb’s downfall is seen by some as a prime example of the long-running campaign by Israel to expose failures by the IRGC by allegedly stepping up attacks against Iran’s nuclear facilities in recent months and targeting high-level officials inside Iranian territory — all meant to generate conflict between the political and defense establishments in Iran, Israeli officials told the newspaper.
The Times reported that Taeb had “seemed untouchable” before a number of recent high-profile killings blamed on Israel and before the apparently foiled Iranian plan to attack Israelis in Turkey.
Israeli intelligence officials who requested anonymity told the newspaper that the thwarting by Israeli and Turkish security forces of the plot had proved the final straw for officials, who abruptly removed Taeb from his position.
Jerusalem reportedly told Ankara that Taeb was behind the planned attacks.
But the report also said calls for Taeb to be ousted had already been voiced following the arrest of Nasiri and the suspicion of his alleged contact with Israel.
Iran and Israel have been engaged in a years-long shadow war but tensions have ratcheted up following a string of high-profile incidents Tehran has blamed on Jerusalem.
A number of members of the IRGC and scientists have been killed in recent weeks, with Iran often pointing the finger at Israel.
Iran reportedly suspects Israel killed two Iranian scientists several weeks ago by poisoning their food. The details of the men’s work, the circumstances of their deaths and their ties to the government remain unclear.