June 29, 2023 | Flash Brief

Mossad Operation in Iran Nets Terror Plot Leader

June 29, 2023 | Flash Brief

Mossad Operation in Iran Nets Terror Plot Leader

Latest Developments

Israel’s Mossad revealed on June 29 that a detailed confession by a leader of an Iranian terrorist cell helped authorities in Cyprus dismantle a cell plotting to attack Israeli and Jewish targets. The Mossad conducted a counter-terrorist operation on Iranian soil and apprehended Yusef Shahabazi Abbasalilu.

Under questioning, which Israel released on video, Abbasalilu provided details about the plots, including that he had received instructions and weapons from senior members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). A senior Mossad official said, “We will reach whoever foments terrorism against Jews and Israelis around the world, including on Iranian soil.”

Expert Analysis

“There is now direct testimony from an Iranian assassin that implicates the IRGC in an attempted terrorist act on European soil. This should provide all the evidence that European authorities need to finally designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization.” Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“The thwarting of an attack by the Iranian regime appears to be a major win for the Mossad in the protection of Israeli citizens. But its ability to operate inside Iran must be seen in the context of Israel’s gray zone campaign, known as the ‘campaign between the wars.’ This episode not only demonstrates Israel’s continued ability to conduct complex special operations on enemy soil but also holds value in the psychological operations domain. The regime is undoubtedly on high alert, scrambling to understand how such a breach could occur.” Jonathan Schanzer, FDD Senior Vice President for Research

Abbasalilu’s IRGC Handler

Abbasalilu named Hassan Shoushtari Zadeh, a senior figure in the IRGC’s Foreign Intelligence branch, as one of his handlers. He also described how the cell planned to carry out the attack. He said that he was waiting for an opportunity to kill his target but fled back to Iran after finding out that Cypriot authorities were searching for him. The Mossad did not specify if Abbasalilu’s arrest happened before or after Cypriot authorities disrupted the plot.

Mossad Helped Cypriot Authorities

On June 25, a Cypriot newspaper reported the arrest of several IRGC agents based in the Turkish-controlled north of the island. Israel’s Channel 12 TV said the cells likely targeted an Israeli businessman active in Cypriot real estate, the Larnaca Chabad House, and Israeli tourists. Cell members arrested by authorities included Iranian, Pakistani, and local nationals.

Tehran’s Ongoing Terror

In 2021, Cypriot authorities arrested an Azeri national connected with the IRGC for plotting to kill Israeli businesspeople on the island. IRGC plots against Israelis and Jews have been uncovered in other European nations with Mossad’s help, including in Greece, Georgia, and Turkey

Iranian Terrorist Attack on Israelis Thwarted in Cyprus,” FDD Flash Brief

Iran-Backed Athens Attack Foiled With Mossad Help,” FDD Flash Brief

Iran Caught Again Trying to Kill Israeli Civilians Abroad,” FDD Flash Brief

Iranian intelligence plot reaches US soil — and should complicate negotiations,” by Toby Dershowitz and Dylan Gresik


Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Israel