image Photo: Reuters

Israelis warned not to visit Turkey due to IRGC threat

“There is increasing concern in the security establishment regarding Iranian efforts to attack Israeli targets around the world,” said a National Security Council (NSC) Counter-Terrorism Bureau statement this morning.

By Erin Viner

According to the security establishment, the warning stems from a tangible threat to Israelis in Turkey, which has now been classified as a “high-risk country.”

Turkey is a popular tourist destination for Israelis, and the two countries have recently been working to restore ties after more than a decade of strained relations.

The statement also stressed that there is “a higher threat level in additional countries bordering Iran,” and that “therefore, Israeli citizens should be alert and take care to show all due caution regarding travel to any of these countries.”

The NSC cited Iranian threats of retaliate against Israel for last week’s assassination of Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Colonel Hassan Sayad Khodaei, who was shot to death in his car by two people who fled the scene on a motorcycle.

Khodaei was “martyred in a terrorist act” committed by “the anti-Revolution and agents affiliated with global arrogance,” the IRGC said in a press release, adding that “thugs linked to the intelligence agency of the Zionist regime (Israel)” had already been captured and arrested for involvement in a series of crimes that include “robberies, kidnappings and vandalism,” reported the Tehran Times, which is linked to Iran’s Foreign Ministry.

ISNA, also a semi-official agency, also claimed Israeli intelligence operatives were captured and arrested by the IRGC.

Iran has vowed a strong response to the killing.

“This inhuman crime was perpetrated by terrorist elements linked to global arrogance,” said Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh in a statement. In apparent reference to arch-for Israel, he added, “the sworn enemies of the holy system of the Islamic Republic of Iran once again showed their evil nature with the assassination and martyrdom of one of the members of the IRGC troops.”

Israel, the United States, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have officially designated the IRGC as a terrorist organization.

The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, which oversees the Mossad intelligence agency, declined to comment on the events in Tehran; although he remarked yesterday that Teheran would “pay the full price” for instigating attacks on Israelis.

Jerusalem security sources have, however, identified Col. Khodaei  – who was a commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force military wing – as part of Iranian plans to abduct and murder Israelis, in a plot the Israel Security Agency (ISA, otherwise known by the Hebrew acronym Shin Bet)  exposed last week.