Iranian officials are on alert after discovering numerous spies hiding in their own government agencies.
Iranian Security Minister Mahmoud Alavi told media that dozens of spies had been arrested after they were found working in state agencies, Channel News Asia reported Wednesday.
Alavi did not specify the countries the spies belonged to, or when the arrests were made. He did suggest that the arrested spies held dual nationalities.
The regime is tightening the noose https://t.co/USsBW4Udaf
— Annika H Rothstein (@truthandfiction) August 28, 2018
“I have repeatedly asked people to inform us if they know any dual national. The intelligence ministry’s anti-espionage unit has successfully identified and arrested tens of spies in different governmental bodies,” Alavi said.
Alavi said Iranian officials had also recently arrested an ISIS member in southern Iran, and cleared a terror cell in northern Iran. Iranian officials reportedly dismantled terror plots, in addition.
Dual nationals have been arrested at increasing rates since Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared the government had been infiltrated by Western agents.
Last year, Reuters reported that at least 30 dual nationals were arrested by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the past few years. Most of the arrests were for espionage, and European nationalities were the most common.
The accusation stems from heightened tensions between Iran and the West, since President Trump withdrew in May from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran over its continued nuclear activities. Iran was further angered by recent sanctions imposed by the Trump Administration.
In the years before the nuclear deal was signed, just a few dual nationals were arrested over a span of several years. Additionally, most were Iranian-Americans.
Last week, U.S. officials arrested two Iranian spies who were working on behalf of the Iranian government, as Kurdistan 24 reported.
The U.S. Department of Justice said the men were “conducting covert surveillance of Israeli and Jewish facilities in the United States, and collecting identifying information about American citizens and U.S. nationals who are members of the group Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK).”
The arrests of the spies may worsen relations between Iran and the U.S., as both countries are on alert for acts of aggression.
“This alleged activity demonstrates a continued interest in targeting the United States, as well as potential opposition groups located in the United States,” said Acting FBI Executive Assistant Director Michael McGarrity.
“The FBI will continue to identify and disrupt those individuals who seek to engage in unlawful activity, on behalf of Iran, on U.S. soil,” he added.
Iran has not made a statement regarding the arrests of its spies. Similarly, countries are refusing to confirm the identities of spies arrested by Iran for the individuals’ safety.