Four men Iran believed to be linked to Israeli spy agency Mossad were executed on Monday, Iranian state media reported, amid escalating tensions between the longtime foes and concerns of a widening conflict in the Middle East as the Israel-Hamas war rages on.
The state-controlled Islamic Republic News Agency described the four people—who were presumably hanged (Iran’s default method of execution) and who have been previously identified as Mohsen Mazloum, Pejman Fatehi, Vafa Azarbar and Hajir Faramarzi—as “terrorists.”
Iranian security forces arrested the four men in mid-2022, claiming that they were suspected of a plot to bomb a factory that was affiliated with the defense ministry in the city of Najafabad. The four were convicted of “forming and managing a terrorist group with the aim of disrupting the country’s security” and were sentenced to death last September for “espionage cooperation in favor of the Israeli regime,” IRNA reported, adding that their convictions were subsequently upheld by an appeal court.
Iran Human Rights, however, claimed that the four men were Kurdish political prisoners and were denied a fair judicial process. The wife of one of the men told the advocacy group that they had traveled to Urmia city in June 2022 for “political activities” on behalf of the Komala party, a social democratic Kurdish party, when they were arrested.
“The Islamic Republic aired their forced confessions after 80 days in which they were tortured to say they were Mossad agents and Israeli spies and had planned to blow up an industrial centre in Isfahan,” she told Iran Human Rights.
The Komala party confirmed the men’s executions on Monday in a post on X.
The executions on Monday are the latest in a crackdown against individuals who authorities claim are colluding with Israeli intelligence. Another four people—three men and one woman—were executed in December for their alleged links to Mossad after they were charged with arson and kidnapping Iranian security personnel. And in December 2022, another four people were hanged after being convicted of working with Israeli intelligence.
In Iran, which has one of the highest execution rates in the world, 65 people have been executed since the start of the year, according to a tally by Iran Human Rights, including a 23-year-old last week for his participation in the Mahsa Amini-inspired anti-government protests of 2022.
Iran and Israel’s bitter bilateral relations, in part due to tensions over Iran’s nuclear program, have dipped even further since the Israel-Hamas war that broke out on Oct. 7 and has since seen the rise of proxy conflicts between each side’s allies. Hamas is backed by Iran—which has fired missiles at suspected Mossad-linked targets in Iraq, Syria, and Pakistan—as well as its allies including Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Red Sea-blockading Houthi rebels in Yemen; while Israel is backed by, among others, the U.S. and the U.K., which have carried out strikes against various militias, including the Houthis, across the region.Leave a comment