Hossein Taeb, an Iranian Shia cleric who used to be head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ intelligence organization until he was removed from his position last week, on Wednesday told the NY Times that Israel has decimated his organization’s intelligence capabilities (Israel’s Spies Have Hit Iran Hard. In Tehran, Some Big Names Paid the Price.).
Speaking on the phone from Tehran to Times reporters Farnaz Fassihi and Ronen Bergman, Taeb, 59, once one of the most feared men in Iran, said “the security breaches inside Iran and the vast scope of operations by Israel have really undermined our most powerful intelligence organization. The strength of our security has always been the bedrock of the Islamic Republic and it has been damaged in the past year.”
Under Taeb’s command, the Basij force, one of the five forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was very active in suppressing protest over the stolen 2009 Iranian presidential elections. The Basiji soldiers murdered dozens of protesters on the streets and in prison.
Taeb has frequently cautioned Iranians that the United States was “hiring agents and mercenaries in an effort to continue its plots for a soft overthrow of the Islamic Republic.” In 2022, Taeb and his family members were sanctioned by the US Department of States for his involvement in human rights violations in Iran.
Taeb was removed from office last week following the Iranians’ failure to hit Israeli targets in Turkey. Calls for his removal came amid a growing atmosphere of mistrust among the Tehran leadership, especially after a senior commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Brigadier General Ali Nasiri, was secretly arrested on suspicion of spying for Israel.
The Times cited Mohammad Ali Abtahi, another disgraced cleric who was removed in 2009, who said that Taeb’s removal was a public acknowledgment by Tehran that in order to confront the Israeli threat they had to bring in a new leadership and “reset” strategies and protocols.
Last week, Khouzestan Steel, a huge state-owned company in Iran, announced that it was forced to stop steel production after being hit by a cyber-attack, one of the largest against the industrial sector in the country in years. Khouzestan Steel reported that experts had determined that its plant should cease operations until further notice “due to technical issues” following a “cyber-attack”. The company’s website also stopped working.
The company did not blame anyone for the attack, which was the latest in a series of recent attacks aimed at damaging state infrastructure and embarrassing the Iranian authorities. several gas stations across the country were paralyzed following a major attack last year against the country’s fuel distribution network, provoking outrage from drivers who had to stand in long queues to refuel. Other attacks have been directed at train stations in Iran, security cameras, and state agencies’ office buildings.