On March 6, the Counterterrorism Bureau at Israel’s National Security Council issued its semiannual travel warning report. Travel warnings, which the bureau emphasized were only “recommendations,” of varying degrees are currently in place for Israelis in 27 countries, including Thailand, Nigeria, Tunisia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey.
The warnings, according to the report, are “based on solid and reliable information, which reflects a real threat, based upon intelligence assessments.” The report from the bureau noted that Hezbollah blames Israel for the death of Imad Mughniyah in 2008, while Iran blames Israel for the deaths of a number of its nuclear scientists. According to the bureau, Iran and Hezbollah are still looking to exact revenge and are likely to do so by targeting Israelis abroad via suicide attacks or kidnappings.
According to a source in the bureau, Israel is “identifying a systematic campaign operating with the greatest vigor…. They [Hezbollah and Iran] are fully coordinated. It is one axis.” The source also revealed, according to the Jerusalem Post, that Iranian agents have been primarily behind the plots targeting state symbols, while Hezbollah has been responsible for plots against civilian tourists.
In addition to Iranian and Hezbollah plots, the bureau warned that there is an increasing threat “of global jihad attacks in Africa in light of the continued fighting in Mali.” The report specifically named Mauritania, Algeria, Senegal, and Djibouti, among others.
With regard to the Sinai Peninsula, the bureau said there was a “very high and concrete threat,” and that Israelis should “leave [the Sinai] immediately and return to Israel.”
The targeting of Israeli and Jewish targets by Iran and Hezbollah appears to be on the rise. Only weeks ago, Bulgaria declared that Hezbollah was responsible for the terror attack in Burgas that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian national last July. On Feb. 20, Nigeria’s State Security Service announced the arrest of three members of an Iranian-backed terror cell that was reportedly planning to carry out attacks on US and Israeli interests as well as former Nigerian officials. On Feb. 26, it was reported that Hossam Taleb Yaacoub, a 24-year-old Lebanese-Swedish dual citizen who was arrested in Cyprus on July 7, 2012, told investigators that he was a member of Hezbollah and responsible for “collecting information about the Jews…[t]his is what my organization is doing, everywhere in the world.”
Immediately following the Burgas attack, the NYPD’s Intelligence Division said Iran has “sharply increased its operational tempo and its willingness to conduct terrorist attacks targeting Israeli interests and the International Jewish community worldwide.” Between May 2011 and July 2012, over 20 attacks tied to Iran and Hezbollah against Israelis and Jews abroad were thwarted. These thwarted attacks, not all of which were publicly reported, took place in Cyprus, Turkey, Kenya, India, Thailand, and Azerbaijan, and elsewhere.
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