Iranian using fake Israeli passport nabbed in Nepal
Israeli Embassy in Kathmandu apprehends Iranian man who made "frequent, suspicious visits" to the embassy area.
Security personnel from Israel's embassy in Kathmandu have arrested an Iranian who was engaged in surveillance of the embassy in Nepal's capital city.
Israel's Channel 2 and the news website Himalayan reported on Monday that the Iranian, Mohsin Khosravian, is in police custody, having being transferred to the Nepalese police force by Israeli security.
According to the Himalayan article, based on a Sunday report in the local Annapurna Post, Nepalese authorities arrested Khosravian on April 13.
The Himalayan cited Israeli security officials from the embassy who expressed concerns that the Iranian intended to cause harm to the embassy because "he carried a tourist map of the Lazimpat area" where the Israeli diplomatic facility is located. The paper reported that the man stayed in a hotel in the Thamel area of the capital city.
The Nepal Police's Central Bureau of Investigation and Special Bureau initiated an investigation into his activities and possible terrorist connections due to his "frequent and suspicious visits" to the area of the Israeli Embassy, said the report.
The Himalayan article noted that Khosravian had hidden his Iranian passport and used a fake Israeli one and the name Alexander to secure an "arrival" visa at the Tribhuvan International Airport on April 3.
The Annapurna Post said that the Iranian man had lived in Bangkok, Thailand, since 2004, and is married to a Thai woman. The suspicious activity surfaced after Khosravian's wife and two Iranian relatives arrived in Kathmandu from Bangkok on Friday for a meeting with him Khosravian apparently obtained his false Israeli passport in Kuala Lumpur and, according to the results of the Nepalese investigation, used his Iranian passport to enter Malaysia on March 31.
The media in Nepal reported that he told authorities that he gave up his garment business and entered Nepal on his way to Europe to file an asylum application.
Speaking from Washington, Dr. Matthew Levitt, director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told The Jerusalem Post in a telephone interview on Monday that this type of Iranian surveillance has "been going on for a while." It is part of the Iranian government and its proxies' "ongoing shadow war with the West over Iran's nuclear program," he added.
Shortly ahead of Passover, Israel's National Security Council's counterterrorism bureau issued a warning that a global Shi'ite terrorism network made up of Iranian Quds Force and Hezbollah operatives continues to target Israelis overseas.
The bureau has designated 27 countries as being under a travel alert of varying severity.
Turkey, Kenya, Nigeria and Azerbaijan have been classified under the "ongoing potential threat" category, which is the third most severe warning type.
Dozens of terrorist attacks around the world have been thwarted this year, a bureau source said in March, adding that Iran and Hezbollah have clearly divided up attacks between them. Iranian agents target Israeli embassies and official state symbols – as in New Delhi in 2012. Hezbollah, on the other hand, attempts the murder of less-protected Israeli tourists –as occurred in Burgas last year, resulting in the deaths of five Israelis and a Bulgarian bus driver.
"Shi'ite terrorism is a threat to Israeli citizens and Diaspora Jews," the NSC said in its warning. "The threat is being sponsored by Iran and Hezbollah. Over the past two years, there has been an increased effort to carry out attacks. We are identifying a systematic campaign operating with the greatest vigor... They are fully coordinated. It is one axis."
Additionally, Israel has been in touch with foreign governments and local police officials in countries such as Cyprus (where a Hezbollah operative was convicted last month of plotting to murder Israeli tourists), Greece, Turkey, Thailand and India.
The source said countries hosting large numbers of Israeli tourists have been contacted by Israel requesting a beefedup security presence. One such meeting was held this past February in India, where some 45,000 Israeli tourists head every year.
India and Nepal are popular destinations for Israeli tourists.
The counterterrorism source said in March that the bureau was not telling Israelis to stay at home, but rather to exercise caution as they enjoy their overseas vacations.