Revealed: Iran is recruiting British Muslims to spy on Jews and dissidents of the Tehran regime to gather information that may be used to carry out attacks on UK soil
Iran is recruiting British Muslims on pilgrimages in the Middle East to spy on Jews and dissidents in the UK, it was claimed last night.
Recruiters from the dreaded Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) are approaching British Shias visiting religious sites in Iran and Iraq.
They are told to return to the UK and collect information on prominent British Jews or targets such as synagogues, Israeli and British officials told the Mail separately.
Some spy on British-based Iranian dissidents, whom the Tehran regime accuses of fomenting unrest at home.
Last night, an Israeli official said that since the Hamas massacre on October 7, they had issued a higher than usual number of warnings to the UK, warning this country of possible attacks by Iranians or their proxies.
Members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) force attend a rally to mark the annual Quds Day, or Jerusalem Day, in Tehran
Members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) march during the annual ‘Sacred Defense Week’ military parade marking the anniversary of the outbreak of the devastating 1980-1988 war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq
A source said: ‘We don’t know the scale of Iranian agents in Europe and the UK, but all it takes is for one to slip through the net.’
Experts have also warned that some Iranians who come to study at British universities as international students on government scholarships are also spies.
Kasra Aarabi, of the United Against Nuclear Iran think tank, said IRGC recruiters were not focusing on hiring British Iranians, who are usually secular and opposed to the Ayatollah regime. But British Shias who hail from Pakistan, Iraq and Lebanon have been targeted at the Arbaeen festival in the holy Iraqi city of Karbala, which attracts up to 20 million pilgrims a year.
Most British Muslims belong to the Sunni sect of Islam. But it is estimated that there are up to 400,000 Muslims who belong to the Shia sect, which is the state religion of Iran and considers itself the protector of Shias around the world.
A Whitehall source said that when the IRGC wanted to kill or kidnap anyone on British soil, it often used British-based organized criminal networks.
But information gathered by British spies could be used to carry out the attacks, one source said, adding: ‘The reason the IRGC uses organized criminal networks to carry out the work here is because fortunately it is very difficult is for Iranian spies to work on. British soil.’
The Ayatollah regime has targeted Iran International – a Farsi-language channel based in Chiswick, west London – accusing it of inciting protests and demonstrations at home, particularly after the death of student Mahsa Amini in September 2022.
Members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) march during the annual pro-Palestinian Al-Quds, or Jerusalem, Day rally in Tehran
MI5 and counter-terrorism police say the Iranian regime has tried to kill or injure at least 15 British-based Iranian dissidents since the start of 2022. (Pictured, the MI6 building in Vauxhall)
Ms Amini was violently assaulted by the country’s morality police for not wearing her headscarf correctly, and later died in hospital, sparking protests around the world.
A British-based people smuggler turned informant was paid nearly £200,000 by the IRGC to kill two British journalists working for the channel.
The government sanctioned five individuals linked to the assassination attempt.
In December, Chechen criminal Magomed-Husejn Dovtaev (31) was jailed for three years after being found guilty of spying on the headquarters of Iran International to carry out a terrorist attack.
MI5 and counter-terrorism police said Dovtaev belonged to a European organized crime network hired to carry out the attack.
MI5 and the counter-terrorism police say that since the beginning of 2022, the Iranian regime has tried to kill or harm at least 15 British-based Iranian dissidents, sometimes publicly calling for their killings.
This week it emerged that the IRGC sent an Iranian couple to Sweden in 2015, using the cover of Afghan asylum seekers.
The couple lived in the country as a ‘sleeper cell’ until 2021 when they were activated to allegedly kill three prominent Jews. But they were arrested by security services.
Terrorism expert Professor Anthony Glees (pictured) said: ‘This is a serious threat that needs to be addressed’
Last year it was reported that the Islamic College, a Shia educational institution based in Willesden Green, north-west London, had strong links with Al-Mustafa University in Iran and was sending students to its campus in the country.
Islamic College principal Dr Isa Jahangir has been reported on pro-Iranian news sites as the ‘representative’ of Al-Mustafa in the UK. Al-Mustafa was sanctioned by the US Treasury for being a recruiting ground for the IRGC.
At the time, the college said the allegations of his links and those of Dr Jahangir with Al-Mustafa were ‘baseless’.
Terrorism expert Professor Anthony Glees said: ‘This is a serious threat that needs to be addressed. IRGC is behind Hamas and the Houthis, and it also runs these spy networks here. British Iranians should be very careful when going back to Iran.’
Last night the Home Office said: ‘The UK will always stand up to threats from foreign nations. We are constantly assessing potential threats.’