the Israeli The Security Agency (Shin Bet) foiled an Iranian attempt to recruit Jewish Israeli women to spy for Iran.
According to a statement by the Israel Security Agency, an Iranian intelligence agent approached the women using a false identity, “Rambod Namdar,” via Facebook and Instagram, posing as a Jewish Iranian.
At the request of “Rambod”, interactions then moved to the more secure messenger, WhatsApp. According to the ISA statement, “Rambod” avoided revealing his face during video chats he had with the women, claiming his camera was not working.
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“Rambod” asked Israeli women to take photos of US embassies in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, other government buildings and a shopping mall.
He also tried to persuade one of the women to send her son to join a specific IDF intelligence unit, potentially as a means of collecting information on the IDF.
The investigation by the Shin Bet and the Israeli police was launched several weeks ago. Several women, all Jewish immigrants from Iran, as well as a man, were indicted last week by a court in Jerusalem. All four have been charged with making contact with a foreign agent – a felony carrying a maximum penalty of 15 years.
The names of the individuals are all banned from publication under a court-issued gag order, at the request of their lawyers.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett praised the Israel Security Agency and the Israel Police and issued a statement, noting that “the State of Israel is in an ongoing campaign with Iran. recruit Israeli citizens. “
“These attempts go beyond security and intelligence; they extend to efforts to influence the citizens of Israel and Israeli society, sow discord and polarization, undermine political stability in Israel and damage public confidence in the government, ”Bennett added.
A senior ISA official said there had been an increase in Iranian espionage targeting Israeli women. The attempts appear innocent at first glance and are designed to lure Israeli women into ongoing relations with Iranian spies.
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“The ISA will continue to thwart Iran’s intelligence attempts, including by monitoring its activities online.” The official also called on Israeli citizens to be “alerted to unusual approaches or requests on the Internet, especially from those who identify themselves as Iranian citizens.”
This is not the first time that the Iranian secret service has tried to trick the Israelis into providing information using social media. In April 2021, Iranian information contacted dozens of Israeli men using a fake Instagram account. This attempt which was foiled by the ISA and the Mossad.