Shin Bet and IDF forces recently arrested a terrorist who was recruited by and working for an Iranian intelligence agent based in South Africa. The terrorist had recruited other Palestinians who were ready to carry out terror attacks in the West Bank and Israel under the auspices of Iran.

Mohammed Maharmeh (L), Bahar Maharmeh (R)

Mohammed Maharmeh (L), Bahar Maharmeh (R) Photo Credit: Shin Bet Spokesperson

It was cleared for publication on Wednesday that the Shin Bet and IDF have uncovered an Iranian-backed terror operation in the West Bank. The terrorists were reportedly recruited and paid by an Iranian intelligence agent who lives in South Africa. Israeli security forces have arrested 29-year-old Mohammed Maharmeh, a computer engineering student from Hebron who was the main terrorist of the West Bank-based operation.   

Maharmeh was recruited by Bahar Maharmeh, a relative of his who lives in South Africa and is an Iranian intelligence agent. In light of the connection to South Africa, the Shin Bet has concluded that Iran has been using the country as a significant base to locate, recruit and handle terrorists in the West Bank and Israel.

The Shin Bet discovered during the investigation that Maharmeh recruited other Palestinians in the West Bank and Israel who were supposed to carry out terror attacks against Israeli targets. The Iranian intelligence agent reportedly instructed Maharmeh to recruit Palestinians or Israeli-Arabs who would be willing to carry out suicide bombings and shooting attacks. In addition, he was told to recruit an Israeli-Arab who could surveil and photograph specific sites in Israel without attracting attention.

The Shin Bet also revealed that Maharmeh was ordered to open a computer store in Hebron. The internal security agency said that Iran was likely planning to use the shop as its base to collect intelligence and information and smuggle Israeli SIM cards and money to Iran.  

Maharmeh eventually recruited two Palestinians from Hebron to be part of his terror cell. The two terrorists were also arrested and interrogated by the Shin Bet. In their interrogations, it was revealed that they had agreed to work for Tehran in exchange for $8,000.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commended the Shin Bet and the IDF for discovering the operation and making the arrests. “This is not the first time. They [the Iranians] are trying in different ways to harm the State of Israel and I’m happy that the Shin Bet and security services are successful in thwarting [their attempts],” Netanyahu said.