With Special Focus on Tanzania, Intelligence Analysis about Report that Mossad Foiled Iranian Attacks on Israeli Tourists and Businesspeople in 3 African Countries (Including Tanzania)
Israeli Foreign Intelligence agency Mossad has repotedly thwarted multiple attacks by Iran on Israeli tourists and businesspeople in at least three African countries.
According to the report, aired on Sunday night on local TV station Channel 12, the targets were Israelis visiting Tanzania, Senegal and Ghana. Five suspects, all with African passports have been arrested.
Analysis by Evarist Chahali
The news came on same day the Tanzania Intelligence and Security Services (TISS) was on spotlight following below analysis on this blog about its readiness, or lack of, to deal with exisiting and future terror threats
As it is still unknown if TISS played any part in the Mossad operation which eventually led to thwarting the Iranian plot in Tanzania. If it provided any kind of support to the Israelis, it would boost flourishing relationship between the two countries, particularly in defence and intelligence sectors.
On March 21, 2018 the two countries signed in Dar es Salaam the first agreement covering mutual cooperation on issues of (military) troop training, cyber security, territory security, and military technology.
According to the then Minister of Defence and National Service, Dr Hussein Mwinyi (now the President of semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar), the new memorandum of understanding (MoU) included sharing information that can help combat rising cases of crimes bordering on terrorism.
It opened new frontiers for the furthering bilateral relations between Tanzania and Israel that went sour during the years of the global Cold War.
The historic MoU was signed during the then Israeli defence minister Avigdor Liberman visit to Tanzania, where he held closed-door talks with Dr Mwinyi and other senior government officials before the media briefing. Among the top government officials at the meeting were the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), Venance Mabeyo, and the then TISS director general Modestus Kipilimba.
After he left Tanzania following a four-day trip to the continent that also included visits to Rwanda and Zambia, Liberman was quoted as saying Israel is pushing Iran out of Tanzania and elsewhere in Africa.
In July this year, it was revealed that the government of Tanzania had been hacking journalists, religious figures, human rights activists, and lawyers by using a special software acquired from an Israeli surveillance company, NSO Group.
The deal between the company and the Tanzanian government was reached and executed during the reign of John Magufuli, who passed away in March 2021.
Business executives, academicians, government officials – including cabinet ministers, former leaders, former presidents and prime ministers – were also on late Magufuli’s long list targeted for hacking.
On the other hand, Tanzania has recently became one of favourite destinations for Israeli tourists. In August this year, the East African nation welcomed 150 tourists who were part of a group of 550 from the Middle Eastern country who were expected to tour for tourism purposes in phases.
Tanzania has been receiving an average of 2,000 tourists from Israel each year. According to Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB), tourists from Israel were estimated to be only about 3,000 in 2011. The number increased to 4,635 in 2012 and more than tripled to 15,000 visitors by 2016.
Despite historical connections between the two countries, in 2013 Tanzania asked Iran to make sure that its oil tankers do not identify themselves as Tanzanian.
A year earlier, Tanzanian authorities confirmed that 36 Iranian oil tankers had been using Tanzanian flags to evade US and EU imposed economic sanctions on Iran's crude oil exports.
The US House Committee on Foreign Affairs has accused Tanzania of collaborating with Iran on the flag-swapping - and has warned the African country that it could also be subject to sanctions unless they stop.
Last year, the Tanzanian registry removed four flag-hopping tankers detected shipping sanctioned Iranian cargoes.
As stated earlier, it is still unknown if Tanzanian authorities furnished the Israelis with the intelligence which eventually led the Mossad to foil the attacks. Nonetheless, the incident may strengthen anti-terror cooperation between the two countries.
On the other hand, the fact that Tanzania was targetted because of the Israeli tourists and businesspeople might have a negative impact on the Tanzanian econony, particulary the tourism sector as would-be visitors might have to reconsider their options.
Finally, the planned attacks and eventual thwarting could indicate that Africa is effectively becoming another proxy in the Israel-Iran shadow war.