Agents with Israel's Mossad agency posed as American CIA agents in operations to recruit members of the Pakistani militant group Jundallah, a report in Foreign Policy magazine said Friday.
Using American dollars and US passports, the agents passed themselves off as members of the Central Intelligence Agency in the operations, notably in London, according to memos from 2007 and 2008, said the report.
Jundallah (Soldiers of God) says it is fighting for the interests of the southeastern province's large ethnic Baluch community, whose members, unlike most Iranians, mainly follow the Sunni branch of Islam.
The Baluch straddle the border with neighboring Pakistan and Afghanistan and Jundallah militants have taken advantage of the unrest in the region to find safe haven in the border region.
In July it claimed responsibility for attacking the Grand Mosque in the provincial capital Zahedan, reportedly targeting members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards Corps, killing 28 people.
"It's amazing what the Israelis thought they could get away with," a US intelligence officer told Foreign Policy.
"Their recruitment activities were nearly in the open. They apparently didn't give a damn what we thought," said the official.
The memos were written during the last years of then-president George W. Bush's administration — the former US leader Bush "went absolutely ballistic" when briefed on the memos, said the magazine.
"The report sparked White House concerns that Israel's program was putting Americans at risk," an officer told the magazine.
"There's no question that the US has cooperated with Israel in intelligence-gathering operations against the Iranians, but this was different. No matter what anyone thinks, we're not in the business of assassinating Iranian officials or killing Iranian civilians," said the official.
The Mossad activities could further jeopardize the already tense relationship of the United States with Pakistan, which is an official ally in the fight against Al Qaeda, which had been pressed to take action against Jundallah, said Foreign Policy.
Tensions in the US-Iran relationship have also spiked, most recently following the assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist. Foreign Policy said there was no evidence of a link between the scientist's killing and Jundallah