Jerusalem • Israeli security officials said Sunday they have arrested a Belgian businessman of Iranian descent for spying on Israel and gathering intelligence on possible terrorism targets.
Israel’s Shin Bet domestic intelligence service released photographs it said were taken from the suspect’s camera that included exterior shots of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv.
The alleged spy was detained on Sept. 11 as he was attempting to leave Israel through Ben Gurion International Airport.
The announcement of the arrest comes two days before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly, where he is expected to argue that Iran cannot be trusted and that stiff economic sanctions should remain in place until it agrees to curtail its nuclear program.
Senior Israeli security officials said Sunday that the suspected Iranian agent, Ali Mansouri, had made three trips to Israel during the past two years and was working to make business contacts in Jerusalem and establish a covert base of operations, including a front company to market windows and roofing materials.
The Israelis said that Mansouri was promised $1 million by Iran for his clandestine work.
Israel said Mansouri was recruited by Iran’s Quds Force, a unit charged with “extraterritorial operations” of assassination, insurgency and attacks for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, according to U.S. Defense Department officials. Its leadership answers directly to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.