Iranian intelligence forces have disbanded a sabotage team in the northern province of Gilan whose members were affiliated with foreign spy agencies and planning to foment unrest on the anniversary of the foreign-backed riots of 2022.
The Public Relations Department of the General Intelligence Directorate of Gilan Province said in a statement on Thursday that the 12-member team had a record of involvement in the riots.
The team tracked and absorbed people with records of engagement in the disturbances. It was deceiving young people and making preparations to stoke unrest in Gilan province and some cities of the province of Kordestan, the statement read.
All members of the sabotage team were captured during an operation on Wednesday.
The statement noted that two of the team’s ringleaders had received training in soft subversion from foreign spy agencies, kept close contacts with known organizers of the courses after returning from abroad and received significant sums of money from them.
The money was disguised as financial assistance to the families of the victims of riots. A small fraction of the money was actually distributed among those families, while it remains unclear where the lion’s share has been spent on, the statement said.
It highlighted that members of the sabotage team were also in close communication and cooperation with the Washington-based and Persian-language Iran International television news channel.
Riots broke out in Iran in mid-September, when 22-year-old woman Mahsa Amini died in a hospital in the capital Tehran, three days after she collapsed at a police station.
An investigation later attributed Amini’s death to her pre-existing medical condition, rather than alleged beatings by the police.
Iran’s intelligence community has said several countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, used their spy and propaganda apparatus to provoke violent riots in the country.
Rioters went on a rampage, brutally attacking security officers and causing massive damage to public property.