No Surprise, but Fascinating Details: Shin Bet Discloses It Arrested a Belgian Citizen as a Spy for Iran — Scouting Out Terror Locations?
The veil of censorship has just been lifted on the arrest of a Belgian citizen — a man of Iranian origin — who was allegedly spying in Israel for the Qods (Jerusalem) Force, the most violent and internationally aggressive division of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
The suspect’s real name is said to be Ali Mansouri, but Israel’s domestic security agency — Shin Bet — says the 55-year-old carried identity papers that said he was Alex Mans, a citizen of Belgium.
His handlers in Iran, according to Shin Bet, tasked him with setting up a business in Israel. He was arrested, apparently, on September 6 and has Israeli lawyers (public defenders) representing him. (They contend that the story is more complicated than the authorities are describing.)
According to The Jerusalem Post, authorities say that he previously visited Israel last summer and in January of this year. The Jerusalem Post adds:
Born in Iran in 1958, Mansouri lived in the Islamic Republic until 1980, before moving to Turkey, where he stayed until 1997. It was then that he entered the world of business, and received a visa that allowed him to reside in Belgium.
A decade later, in 2006, Mansouri received Belgian citizenship, and changed his name to Alex Mans to cover up his Iranian identity, the investigation revealed.
In 2007, he returned to Iran, from where he tried to broaden his business activities in the three countries he knew best, Iran, Belgium, and Turkey.
He continued to travel between the three states, married an Iranian woman (a second marriage), and allegedly drew the attention of Iranian intelligence recruiters due to his international business background.
Mansouri specialized in selling windows and roofing solutions to stores and restaurants, and attempted to sign supply contracts with potential customers in Tel Aviv. He presented himself as a Belgian businessman, and could refer others to websites and Facebook accounts that documented his business activities.
In 2012, the Qods Force asked him to work for them in Israel, the Shin Bet said.
Mansouri/Mans is alleged to have taken photographs of strategic locations that would interest Iranian terrorism planners, including the United States Embassy in Tel Aviv.