On October 6th Israel indicted Ali Mansouri, an Iranian with Belgian citizenship, for espionage. Mansouri was recruited by the Iranian Quds Force (which runs overseas terrorist operations) and promised a million dollars if he could help plan and carry out terror attacks inside Israel. Mansouri contends that he was the victim of an Iranian extortion scheme to force him to spy.
The Israeli indictment described Mansouri’s brother as working for Iranian intelligence and helping to arrange for Quds Force to meet and recruit Ali Mansouri. Despite many precautions, undertaken on the advice of his Quds Force handlers, Ali Mansouri was detected by Israeli counterintelligence and was observed taking photos of the main airport in Israel, the American embassy in Israel, and at least one intelligence facility. Ali Mansouri was arrested on September 11th while trying to leave Israel, and after prolonged interrogation he provided many details of his work for Quds Force. Ali Mansouri was recruited mainly because he had a background in international commerce and that would be an excellent cover and allow him to collect intelligence information and establish business contacts in Israel. Ali Mansouri had business operations in Belgium, Turkey, and Iran and his three recent visits to Israel were attempts to expand his window manufacturing and sales business into Israel. This would give him opportunities to smuggle weapons into Israel and otherwise facilitate terrorist carrying out terror attacks inside Israel.
Iranian efforts like this have been going on for over five years. For example, back in 2007, Israel revealed an Iranian effort to recruit Israelis of Iranian origin to spy on Israel for Iran. Up until then Israel had detected at least ten Iranian attempts to recruit Israelis as spies. This was possible because, although Iran wants Israel destroyed, Iran still allowed Israelis of Iranian origin to return and visit kin in Iran. There are still about eight-thousand Jews in Iran and nearly one-hundred and fifty-thousand Israelis of Iranian origin. Since 1948, most Jewish Iranians have left Iran, most for Israel. Each year there are still some Israelis returning to Iran to visit family. The classic method of recruitment, used by the Iranians, was to threaten kin in Iran with harm (imprisonment, torture, death) if the Iranian Jew who was now an Israeli does not supply information. Some of these Israelis reported the Iranian recruiting attempt to the Israeli government, and that led to more vigorous Israeli counterintelligence efforts against Iranian attempts to set up espionage and terror operations inside Israel.
It's not illegal for Israelis to travel to Iran, although it's common knowledge that Iran is not a hospitable place for Jews, Israelis, or Westerners in general. Israelis usually go to the nearest Iranian embassy (usually Turkey) to take care of the paperwork. While applying for an Iranian passport they are questioned on what they do for a living and what they did while in the Israeli armed forces. Some Israelis have reported this to their government, and the Iranian espionage situation has been watched carefully for some time.
Because of this Israeli scrutiny, Iran is now going after the many Iranians who have fled to the West in the last few decades and used threats or offers of money to recruit them as intelligence operatives. Iran seeks out expatriate Iranians who have been successful and legitimate international businessmen, as this allows them to travel a lot without alerting Israeli counterintelligence.
Israel has been doing the same thing and has apparently been more successful at setting up espionage and sabotage operations in Iran. This has annoyed the Iranians a great deal, as has the Israeli skill at foiling Iranian intel and terror operations against Israel. This is a war that is far from over.