A hard-line Iranian group has been actively recruiting potential suicide bombers for operations in Israel, images seen by MailOnline reveal.
The group responsible for this recruitment drive, Hezbollah, different from the Lebanese militant group with the same name, has initiated a campaign in the southeastern Iranian city of Mashhad, a significant place in Shia Islam.
Posters featuring calls for ‘martyrdom’ have appeared on the streets of Mashhad, imploring residents to submit their personal details for consideration.
These posters declare, ‘It’s time for Jihad,’ and seek individuals to join a ‘special battalion of martyr seekers for Palestine.’
One poster, shared by a Telegram channel close to the group, shows triumphant jihadists arriving at Jerusalem‘s Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites after the defeat of Israel while waving Iran‘s flag.
‘Liberating’ Al-Aqsa Mosque has been one of the fundamental slogans of the Islamic Republic’s officials over the past four decades.
The posters called for Iranian citizens to sign up to ‘martyrdom’
The group, not related to the Lebanese group of the same name, sought individuals to join a ‘special battalion of martyr seekers for Palestine .’
One poster, shared by a Telegram channel close to the group, shows triumphant jihadists arriving at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque
The group has gone as far as providing potential recruits with the option to choose between using motorcycles or cars for their deployments to Israel.
Tawab, a resident of Mashhad, expressed his concern about the situation.
In a telephone interview with MailOnline, he stated, ‘I have seen these posters in several places in the city, but no one seems willing to take such a perilous path. It makes the face of the city scary.’
While openly admitting its backing for Hamas, Iran’s clerical rulers insist the Islamic Republic was not involved in the group’s 7 October attack on Israel.
In a move that reflects a growing internal dissent, dozens of Iranian political and civil activists have voiced their concerns and opposition to these actions.
On Thursday, they openly warned Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei against dragging Iran into the abyss of war.
The activists emphasised, ‘They [Khamenei] must recognise that they lack the authority to lead our nation into war with their reckless, unwise, and unpatriotic policies, potentially transforming the peaceful people of Iran into war-weary victims.’
The statement further criticised the Supreme Leader’s stance, saying, ‘By directly involving our nation in these conflicts, he not only jeopardises the safety and prosperity of the Iranian people but also threatens to impose the scourge of war upon our land.’
The Islamic Republic has historically supported various organisations in the Middle East, such as Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which are engaged in activities related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
This support includes the provision of weapons and other forms of assistance.
While some countries like Qatar and Turkey have offered financial aid to these groups, they typically do not provide them with arms or endorse their activities.
Tehran is the chief backer of both Hamas and Hezbollah – but these are just some of the powerful militias that have been propped up by Iranian money, weapons and military training in recent decades
Hamas and Islamic Jihad, both Sunni groups related to the Muslim Brotherhood, receive support from Iran due to their shared anti-Israel sentiments, despite their sectarian differences.
The relationship between Shia and Sunni Islamist groups has been marked by periods of cooperation and occasional conflicts, particularly in the aftermath of the 2003 Iraq war and the unrest in various Arab countries in 2011.
Lebanese Hezbollah possesses a significantly more potent military capability compared to Hamas.
Their arsenal comprises an estimated 130,000 rockets and missiles, including various types capable of reaching Tel Aviv.
Additionally, they have thousands of highly experienced fighters with over a decade of battlefield experience, largely gained from their involvement in the conflict in Syria.
Israeli security leaders have consistently regarded Shia Hezbollah as their most formidable adversary, second only to Iran in the region.
The prospect of an all-out war between Hezbollah and Israel, last observed in 2006, carries the potential for severe damage on both sides.
Moreover, such a conflict could escalate and involve major international powers, including the United States and Iran.
It would also serve as a significant test of Israel’s ability to manage a war on multiple fronts, a challenge not faced in over half a century since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.