The Israel Security Agency (ISA), with the assistance of the IDF, has uncovered and foiled an infrastructure in Shomron that was run by Iranian intelligence and which was recruited and financed by an Iranian intelligence operative living in South Africa.
The principal operative that was arrested is Mahmoud Makharmeh, 29, a computer engineering student who resides in Chevron. He was recruited for Iranian intelligence activity by a relative of his, Bakhar Makharmeh, who is from Hebron, but who has resided in South Africa in recent years.
In the framework of the ISA investigation it has been learned that Iranian intelligence has been using South Africa as a significant center for locating, recruiting and operating agents against Israel in the Shomron.
It was learned that Bakhar Makharmeh acted on behalf of Iranian intelligence agents and invested considerable effort in recruiting operatives in Shomron and Israel for carrying out espionage and terrorist acts for the Iranians. To this end, Bakhar took advantage of Mahmoud’s 2015 trip to South Africa and recruited him for Iranian activity. Mahmoud met several times with Iranian agents, several of whom came from Tehran especially to meet him.
Mahmoud Makharmeh was charged with various missions in order to advance terrorism against Israeli targets:
* Recruiting suicide terrorists and a cell to carry out shooting attacks;
* An offer to undergo a training course in explosives and war materiel;
* Opening a computer store in the Hebron area, photographing the store and passing the photographs on to Bakhar and the Iranians. It is possible that the Iranian’s goal in this operation was to establish an intelligence collection base in Hebron;
* Recruiting an Israeli Arab who could photograph inside Israel; and
* Transferring Israeli SIM cards and funds to the Iranians. It is believed these were necessary for operations in Israel).
Pursuant to the foregoing, Mahmoud Makharmeh recruited two operatives from Hebron in order to establish a terrorist cell:
* Nour Makharmeh, 22, a resident of Hebron; and
* Diaa Sarakhneh, 22, a resident of Hebron.
In the ISA investigation of the two, it was learned that they had agreed, together with Mahmoud Makharmeh, to operate a terrorist cell under Iranian guidance. Mahmoud received $8,000 from the Iranians to operate the cell.
It was also learned that Makharmeh was asked to work on recruiting residents of Israel, including journalists, in light of the latter’s access to various places in Israel, especially official sites.
Mahmoud Makharmeh was recently charged in Judea and Samaria military court for contact with a hostile organization from outside the area, receiving enemy funds and attempting to join an illegal organization.
Nour Makharmeh was charged with conspiring to join an illegal organization.
Diaa Sarakhneh was charged with attempting to join an illegal organization.
The foregoing 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.
(Communicated by the ISA)