Murder Plot Against Israeli Billionaire Had Iran Connection Israeli Security Services Warn Teddy Sagi of Planned Hit and He Escapes
Yesterday, Israeli media reported that an Israeli billionaire, Teddy Sagi, age 49, who lived on Cyprus was the target of a planned hit. He was warned before the killer struck by Israeli intelligence agents and escaped the island. The suspected killer, an Azeri national with a Russian passport was arrested. He had in his possession a pistol, silencer and handcuffs. The reports offer two conflicting accounts of the murder plot.
Sagi’s fortune is based on his online gambling and gaming empire, Playtech. He also owns London’s Camden Market. Forbes estimates his net worth as $5.6-billion, and he is Israel’s fifth wealthiest individual. He owns the most expensive residential property in Israel, worth $28-million. He does have a somewhat checkered past: in 1994, before hitting the jackpot with Playtech, he was accused of stock fraud and spent nearly a year in jail and paid a $100,000 fine. His brother was convicted of murdering an investment advisor in the 1980s.
One line of speculation notes that many Israeli entrepreneurs are entering the Forex trading market and Sagi was rumored to have been muscling in on it. One theory is that existing players in that field were angered at his business moves and sought to eliminate him. Another similar rumor says that Sagi had enormous debts to the Russian mob, which hired the hit man to eliminate him. Though it’s not clear why someone with such wealth would have trouble paying such sums.
The other account says that the operation was planned by Iranian intelligence as revenge for Israel’s repeated attacks inside Iran which sabotaged its nuclear facilities, including the assassination of the father of the program, Moshen Fakhrizadeh. The murder reached the front page of the NY Times last month, with an account celebrating the ingenuity of the Mossad in devising the first ever state-sponsored murder incorporating autonomous intelligence. It might be no coincidence that Iran would seek vengeance with such an attack.
Iran has perpetrated at least two previous attacks on the interests of wealthy Israelis: most prominently an explosion aboard an oil tanker owned by one of Israel’s wealthiest families, the Ofers. It also similarly attacked a car carrier vessel owned by another wealthy Israeli, whose shipping company has reported ties to the Mossad. Regarding the failed attempt on Sagi, Israeli media report that he is not the only suspected target. And that the Iranians have other wealthy Israeli living on the island in their sites.
Iran has denied the Israeli claims.
Unlike Israel, which has both more lethal capabilities and is less constrained by geo-strategic considerations, Iran must extract costs from its enemies in more covert ways. Attacking Israeli business interests is more palatable and less provocative than targeting security or political officials.
The suspect was born in Azerbaijan, which has a long border with Iran. Both Israeli and Iranian intelligence are known to have infiltrated the country and have major presences there. It’s not hard to believe they would have been able to recruit someone from the local underworld with Russian connections to perform such a hit. Apparently, he didn’t get very far in executing the plot. As soon as he landed at the airport, local police began to track him as he moved around the island. Independently, Israeli intelligence warned Sagi’s heavy security detail, which included veterans of the IDF’s elite commando units. of the danger and they whisked him out of the country.
A few days earlier, the billionaire’s protective detail had noticed a stranger outside his villa as he celebrated at an enormous birthday party he threw for his son. They reported the suspicious person to the local police, who had been tracking the same person for days (probably due to a Mossad tip off). Shortly afterward, Sagi’s guards were told about the plot and he exited Cyprus.
It’s worth mentioning that Israel itself has a major mob presence. The Russian underworld and billionaire oligarchs from the former Soviet Union also play a major part in the world of Israeli crime and legitimate business.
22 thoughts on “Murder Plot Against Israeli Billionaire Had Iran Connection – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Why would Iran waste its time on yet another 2-bit Israeli ‘billionaire’? They are still owed for Soleimani (the guy who did most to eliminate ISIS on the ground in Syria/Iraq). They have reportedly taken out a couple of top level US/Israeli military officers in north Iraq as part payment.
The ‘stranger’ being noticed is a dead giveaway. Real intelligence agencies, unlike the Mossad clowns in Dubai, know about secure observation. He either wanted to be seen or was a local pissed at being stiffed by the ‘billionaire’.
As for the other 2-bit hits on Israeli assets, they are as much a joke as Netanyahu’s cartoon Iranian nuke. If you want to see how Iran actually operates, look at the Pan Am Lockerbie incident. That was payback for the deliberate shooting down of Iran Air 655.
Iran’s intelligence service leaks like a sieve, which explains how Israel so earily penetrates Iran’s security services and nuclear program.
Iran should clean house before lashing out blindly and targeting Israeli celebrities.
@ Ben G: If Israel had 70 million people and was as large as Iran, it too would be easily penetrated and leak like a sieve. It’s small population and territorial size makes it much harder to penetrate.
But your Iranophobic contempt will be richly repaid someday when Iran does at settle accounts.
So China, which has a billion people, should be the easiest to penetrate and would leak the most.
I hope that the Iranian people settle their accounts with the mullahs.
I hope the Iranian people will be free one day.
@ Ben G.: YOu think China is impenetrable? And there are no spies operating there? BTW, you want to talk about domestic terrorism? Look no further than Xinjaing where the Uighurs have mounted uprisings over the years.
You have no right to determine what’s good for the Iranian people. That’s for them to decide. And when Iranians need you to tell them who should or shouldn’t govern them, they’ll ask. But they haven’t so far, so butt out. For me or you to advocate regime change (as you are here) is the height of folly and merely repeats the same delusional foreign policy the US has followed for decades in the region.
Richard, is this your view too for the population of North Korea?
There is obviously a highly secret and powerful element in the Iranian military and Intelligence services that is so antithetical to the regime, that it is willing to sacrifice Iranian scientists and military assets in order to stop Khamenei and the IRGC.
I don’t believe that this element is MEK, nor do I believe that they’ve been compromised or ‘turned’ by Israel or that they are motivated by money.
I believe these regime opponents are patriots.
Don’t you agree?
I believe you’re full of s*t. That’s what I believe.
No more comments in this thread.
I don’t agree with this assessment. Israelis are generally more tolerant of each other. Atheist Israelis are not declared heretics and persecuted, they are still considered Jews by even the most religious person. So there is more unity. Even when Israel reaches 70million population, it is unlikely its intelligence will leak like a sieve.
It is commendable that a semi theocracy like Israel, a Jewish state has atheist agnostic Jews in power who are not shot or killed for being atheists.
Where there is internal strife and intolerance, the intelligence services will leak like a sieve as they don’t trust each other.
Israel is one of the most intolerant countries I’ve ever visited (and I lived there for 2 years).
Another lie. Orthodox rabbis in Israel not only don’t consider atheists Jews, they don’t consider Reform or Conservative Jews to be Jews. They spew the vilest insults against their fellow Jews precisely because they believe they aren’t Jewish at all.
[comment deleted: I warned you to adopt a non-Arabic handle and you ignored me. An Israeli apologist adopting an Arabic handle is fraudulent behavior and not permitted here. You are moderated. If you attempt to post another comment using the same handle you will be banned outright.]
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The headline, “Murder Plot Against Israeli Billionaire Had Iran Connection,” strongly implies Iranian involvement. Yet the alleged would-be killer is an Azeri national with a Russian passport, Sagi has been convicted of stock fraud and his brother of murder, and two motives unrelated to Iran are offered: rival Israeli investors objecting to Sagi’s attempts to get into Forex trading, and debts owed to Russian mobsters.
“It might be no coincidence that Iran would seek vengeance” for the assassination of Moshen Fakhrizadeh. Or that might have nothing whatsoever to do with this affair.
You write – “Attacking Israeli business interests is more palatable and less provocative than targeting security or political officials”.
I find this hard to accept. Why would attacking a civilian would be more palatable than attacking a military or political target. On the contrary.
@ Ariel: Oh I don’t know. Why would there be far more blowback in assassinating Bibi Netanyahu, rather than Teddy Sagi? That’s a tough one, isn’t it? It’s the same reason Iran attacks Israeli cargo ships rather than Israeli naval warships, submarines, or Israeli territory itself.
Oh, I thought you were talking about morals as well.
What you describe is going for easier targets probably since the Iranian cannot produce an impressive operation.
@ Ariel: So killing a PM is an “impressive operation,” but killing Teddy Sagi is an unimpressive operation? If so, then why did the Mossad warn Sagi about the killers hunting for him?
When Iran does finally succeed in retaliating for Israeli crimes against it, then you will howl with anger and righteous indignation. That’s when you’ll see what “an impressive operation” looks like as it hits you in the gut.
[comment deleted: read the comment rules. Then read them again. Then respect them. This comment was off-topic. Make sure comments directly address and relate to the post.]
Azerbaijan is infiltrated by spies, both the CIA and FSB are well represented within the Azeri military. So a link to Russian mob would not be very difficult.
If Israeli Intelligence warned Teddy Sagi that he was a target of a hit, then it is unlikely to be a Russian hit. Mossad is hardly likely to be monitoring Russian intelligence with the goal of ferreting out who they are planning to kill. If that were so, then the likes of Alexander Litvenenko would still be living.
It is likely to be Iran attempting to target a prominent Israeli. Now that would make sense, as Mossad are clearly keeping an eye on Iranian intelligence and would know if an Israeli was a target.