JERUSALEM, Israel – Israeli security forces uncovered an Iranian-backed and funded terrorist network operating in Judea and Samaria, aka the West Bank, the Israel Security Agency (ISA) revealed on Wednesday.
“The ISA, with the assistance of the IDF, exposed and foiled a terrorist network in Judea and Samaria that operated under the aegis of Iranian intelligence,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.
The terror network was run by Iranian intelligence. The principal operative is Mahmoud Makharmeh, 29, a computer engineering student who lives in the Palestinian Authority-controlled city of Hebron.
He was recruited by Bahkar Makharmeh, a relative from Hebron who has been living in South Africa.
According to the ISA, Iranian intelligence has been using South Africa as a “significant center” for recruiting and operating agents against Israel in the West Bank.
The ISA said that Bahkar Makharmeh had acted on behalf of Iranian intelligence agents to recruit operative in the West Bank and Israel to spy and carry out terrorist attacks for the Iranians.
He recruited Mahmoud Makharmeh during a trip to South Africa in 2015. Mahmoud met with Iranian agents several times, who came from Tehran especially to meet with him.
According to the ISA, uncovering the network “underscores Iran's involvement in sponsoring terrorism against Israel and exposes Iran's efforts in various countries in order to promote hostile activity against Israel.”
Mahmoud was asked to carry out various missions that would advance terror attacks against Israeli targets like recruiting suicide terrorists and a cell to carry out shooting attacks; offering an explosives and war material training course; and recruiting an Israeli Arab to photograph inside Israel.
Mahmoud had recruited two other Hebron residents and was working on recruiting residents of Israel proper, including journalists. All three were arrested and charged with various crimes.
Netanyahu noted it’s not the first time that Iran is trying “various methods” in “various fields to attack the State of Israel.”
He said he was pleased that the ISA and security services had succeeded in foiling the plot.
“I would like to bring it to your attention that Iran is using terrorism against the State of Israel not only with the assistance of terrorist movements such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad but is also attempting to organize terrorist actions inside the State of Israel and against the citizens of Israel,” Netanyahu said.