Iran ‘is considering attacking World Cup in Qatar’, Israeli intelligence chief claims

Iran is considering attacking the World Cup in Qatar to divert attention from protests in the country that have killed more than 350 people, Israel’s intelligence chief has said.

Major General Aharon Haliva, Israel’s military intelligence chief, warned that Tehran could launch an attack on the soccer tournament in Qatar to create instability in the region.

Haliva said the goal would be to divert attention from the domestic protests in Iran and instead the fallout from such an attack.

His warning comes as widespread protests continue to rock the Islamic Republic following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of Iran’s moral police on September 16.

Haliva said that as public unrest mounts, Iran is likely to be “much more aggressive” in its response.

“I tell you that the Iranians are now also considering attacking the World Cup in Qatar,” Haliva told an Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) conference in Tel Aviv.

Iran is considering attacking the World Cup in Qatar to divert attention from protests in the country that have killed more than 350 people, Israel's intelligence chief has said.  Pictured: The Lusail Iconic Stadium before the World Cup match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia on Tuesday

Iran is considering attacking the World Cup in Qatar to divert attention from protests in the country that have killed more than 350 people, Israel’s intelligence chief has said. Pictured: The Lusail Iconic Stadium before the World Cup match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia on Tuesday

Iranians mourn in front of the coffins of people killed in a shooting attack, during their funeral in the city of Izeh, in Iran's Khuzestan province, on November 18.  In one of the worst acts of violence since the protests broke out, motorcycle assailants shot dead seven people.  , including a woman and two children aged nine and 13 on November 16

Iranians mourn in front of the coffins of people killed in a shooting attack, during their funeral in the city of Izeh, in Iran’s Khuzestan province, on November 18. In one of the worst acts of violence since the protests broke out, motorcycle assailants shot dead seven people. , including a woman and two children aged nine and 13 on November 16

‘Iran is trying to preserve instability as a constant. At a time when the world around it is stable and prosperous, this is the opposite of what is happening inside Iran,” Haliva said, The Times of Israel reports.

“The World Cup is likely to be one of those events where he tries to cause instability,” he added.

The nationwide protest movement in Iran first focused on Iran’s state-mandated hijab, or headscarf, for women, but soon morphed into calls for the downfall of Iran’s ruling Shiite clerics.

Haliva added that there is “real concern” inside Iran that the unrest would “endanger” the regime.

Haliva said: “At this stage, I don’t see a risk to the regime, but as the pressure on Iran increases, including internal pressure, the Iranian response is much more aggressive, so we should expect much more aggressive responses in the region and in the world.’

Dissent in Iran is growing after Amini’s death, with Iranian soccer fans even openly cheering the national team’s loss to England in the World Cup yesterday.

Images emerged overnight of a man sitting on the back of a moped, brandishing a huge Union flag that fluttered behind him as he rode through the streets of Tehran after his team’s 6-2 defeat in Qatar.

“People are happy about England’s victory,” said the man who filmed the spectacle from his car solemnly.

Iranian soccer fans celebrate their team's heavy loss to England in the World Cup.

Iranian soccer fans celebrate their team’s heavy loss to England in the World Cup.

(L) Iran's Morteza Pouraliganji, Milad Mohammadi and Roozbeh Cheshmi appear before yesterday's game against England.  Iran's players refused to sing the national anthem

(L) Iran’s Morteza Pouraliganji, Milad Mohammadi and Roozbeh Cheshmi appear before yesterday’s match against England. Iran’s players refused to sing the national anthem

Supporters seated in the stands also remained largely silent during the anthem, while jeers and jeers also rang out in defiance of the regime.

Supporters seated in the stands also remained largely silent during the anthem, while jeers and jeers also rang out in defiance of the regime.

During the soccer match, Iranian fans in the stands chanted Amini’s name, carried signs and wore T-shirts with protest slogans, and booed him during the national anthem.

Elsewhere in the Iranian capital, thousands of people packed into residential skyscrapers could be heard whistling and cheering as they defeated their team, while another video, blurred to protect the identity of those involved, showed protesters dancing in celebration after the defeat.

Such open disdain for Iran’s soccer campaign comes as widespread protests continue to rock the nation.

“The protest movement has eclipsed soccer,” said Kamran, a linguistics professor living in Mazandaran province in northern Iran. “I want Iran to lose these games.”

Anusha, a 17-year-old whose secondary school in Tehran has been rocked by protests, said the recent unrest had changed everything for her.

“A few months ago I would have said, of course, that I want Iran to win against England and the United States,” he said. ‘Now, it’s strange. I really do not care.

Even as Iran’s national team performs on the world stage in Qatar, Iranian security forces continue to brutalize protesters.

More than 400 civilians are believed to have been killed since the protests began in late September, with many more injured and arrested.

Before yesterday’s game, Iran’s players refused to sing their national anthem and the music was greeted with a torrent of boos from fans in the stands, many of them Iranians carrying banners and T-shirts bearing anti-regime messages.

Protesters supporting the Iranian team were seen waving anti-regime banners in the stands in support of the demonstrations that have been taking place in Iran for the past two months.

Protesters supporting the Iranian team were seen waving anti-regime banners in the stands in support of the demonstrations that have been taking place in Iran for the past two months.

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Women attending the Iran vs England match in Qatar hold signs supporting protesters opposing the country’s theocratic rulers.

The team went stone-faced as the anthem was played at the Khalifa International Stadium, in an apparent sign of solidarity with the protests currently plaguing their country at home.

Catherine Perez-Shakdam, the Henry Jackson Society’s Iran specialist, told MailOnline the team and fans would likely be “severely punished” for such an outspoken show of defiance against the regime.

‘The refusal of the Iranian soccer team not to sing the national anthem of the Islamic Republic will be a decision that the players will pay dearly for.

“Similarly, any Iranian fans identified by the regime for booing the anthem will also face severe punishment. This is the brutal reality of modern Iran.

‘Iran’s players may have lost more than their freedom today; And their lives may not be the only ones at stake.

“Indeed, the regime has shown a particular propensity to attack relatives of dissidents and, in doing so, discourage others from expressing their views.

“Given Iran’s horrendous record, it should be noted that the players and fans who rejected the regime today knew full well the risks they faced.

“Such courage and dignity in the face of absolutism certainly deserves our full appreciation.”

Iran has been rocked by more than two months of anti-regime demonstrations sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody after she was arrested for not wearing the mandatory hijab.

Since then, almost daily marches have been held calling for an end to the strict interpretation of the country’s Islamic laws and the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime.

News outside the country is limited amid widespread internet outages, but hundreds, if not thousands, of protesters are believed to have been killed by security forces in an increasingly violent crackdown.

Human rights groups accuse security forces of firing live ammunition and pellets at protesters and beating them with batons, violence captured in numerous videos circulating online.

Author: Harry Gill

This is Harry Gill years of experience in the field of journalism, Harry Gill heads the editorial operations of the Elite News as the Executive Producer.

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