The Republic of Georgia announced on Tuesday it had foiled an Iranian plot to assassinate an Israeli citizen residing in Tbilisi.
The alleged target is the president of the Israel-Georgia Chamber of Business, Itsik Moshe. According to Israeli and Georgian reports, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) recruited an al-Qaeda-affiliated team of Pakistani and Iranian-Georgian individuals to conduct the operation, providing them with guidance and resources. The team traveled to the Georgian capital of Tblisi to gather intelligence on Moshe, who has been the target of previous murder attempts.
Georgian security forces arrested one of the would-be assassins last week, after he raised suspicions; he had firearms and ammunition in his possession. In addition, they arrested others, Iranian-Georgian nationals for smuggling the weapons intended for the murder, from Turkey to Georgia.
There were no in-person meetings between the Pakistani national and the other operatives, Georgian media reported. This was likely meant to ensure the secrecy of the operation.
Iranian citizen Mohammad Reza Ebadi Arablu, who has been working on behalf of the IRGC’s Quds Force in Georgia, recruited the team in 2011. The Quds Force specializes in extraterritorial and clandestine military operations.
An Israeli security official noted that Iran has tried to carry out killings on Georgian soil before, including the attempted assassination of former U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton.
Iran often uses foreign nationals for terror operations to disguise its own footprint; the recent attempt in Georgia is yet more evidence of Tehran’s longtime connection to al-Qaeda, the Israeli official said.
In June, Israeli and Turkish authorities thwarted several Iranian terror attacks against Israeli tourists who were visiting Istanbul. Iran also tried to attack Israeli businessmen in Cyprus last October.
The investigation into the Iranian scheme in Tbilisi is still ongoing, with Israeli and Georgian intelligence agencies working in collaboration. The intelligence teams are exploring the possibility of involvement by others outside Georgia.
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.