Israel Puts Embassies on Security Alert Following Reports It Kidnapped Iranian

Israel has issued a worldwide security alert to its embassies in the wake of reports it may have kidnapped a top Iranian general in Turkey, a senior Israeli official tells ABC News.

"This could be a reason for the Iranians to respond against us," said the official who said he had no information on the fate of the general. Israel has denied involvement in the disappearance of the general, according to press reports.

General Ali Reza Asgari disappeared in Istanbul in early February. He is thought to have direct knowledge of Iran's nuclear program and its ties to terror groups operating in Lebanon and Iraq.

Iran's official news agency, IRNA, reported today that Iran's top police chief accused Western intelligence agencies for Asgari's disappearance.  Police Commander Brigadier General Esmaeil Ahmadi-Moqaddam said that Asgari was probably kidnapped by agents of secret services from Western countries, according to IRNA.

Israeli officials said the security alert issued today was routine "whenever reports appear in the media pointing a finger at Israel."

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Asgari disappeared mysteriously after arriving in Istanbul from Damascus on Feb.7, according to press reports. Initial reports speculated he may have been kidnapped because he failed to show up at a hotel that had been booked for him by two non-Turkish men.

One respected analyst with sources in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard told ABC News, however, that the general has defected with his family and is now in a European country where he is cooperating with the U.S.   

Asgari's years with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the defense ministry would make him an invaluable source of information. He was reportedly based in Lebanon in the 1990s and was in charge of ties with the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah.

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