Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency has arrested five Israelis who had been recruited by an Iranian intelligence agent and sent the man photographs and other information, the agency cleared for publication.

The investigation was carried out by the Shin Bet and Israel Police after it was suspected that a number of Israeli citizens were in contact with an Iranian intelligence agent, known as Rambud Namdar, and had been recruited by him to carry out missions within the country.

The suspects, four women and one man from central Israel, met Namdar who said he was a Jew living in Iran, on Facebook. According to the agency, Rambud requested from all suspects that instead of being in contact on Facebook, they would talk on Whatsapp where he also video chatted.

Nambdar never showed his face to the women, claiming that the camera on his phone was broken. While some of the women suspected that he was an Iranian intelligence officer, they continued to speak with him and agreed to carry out requests he made and receive money from him, the agency said.

One of the suspects, along with her husband, had been in contact with Nambdar for several years. The 40 year-old resident of Holon suspected that he was acting on behalf of Iranian authorities as an intelligence agent. Nevertheless, she took secret pictures of the US embassy in Tel Aviv, pictures inside the Interior Ministry and Ministry of Social Welfare buildings in the city and also gave him information on security arrangements and pictures of a mall in Holon.

“The investigation revealed that the suspect’s husband was aware of her connections with Nambdar , and even spoke to Nambdar himself, although he suspected that he was an Iranian intelligence agent,” the Shin Bet said, adding that the husband, a taxi driver, even helped his wife help by bringing her to the US embassy in Tel Aviv so she could take pictures of it.
Not only did Nambdar ask her to gather intelligence on senior defense establishment officers, she was also asked to tell her son, who was about to be drafted into the IDF, to serve in Military Intelligence. Until his draft date, he spoke with Nambdar by phone and asked him to give his opinion on the Persian language. The son was not aware of who he was.

Another suspect, a 57-year-old resident of Beit Shemesh was in contact with Nambdar for over four years. She carried out various requests, including telling her son to serve in the Intelligence Corps and to pass along military documents belonging to her son as well as photos and videos from her son’s enlistment ceremony.

She was also asked to establish a club for Iranians in Beit Shemesh and transfer all the details of who was active in the branch as well as photos and videos of club activity; take pictures of the ballot box during the elections of the 23rd Knesset; photograph the American embassy in Jerusalem, something she failed to do because of local security guards; and approach a Knesset member and pass on information about the relationship between them. She was also asked to perform additional tasks such as buying a computer and cell phone.
She received a total of $5,000 for the various tasks she carried out for Nambdar.

A 47-year-old resident of Kfar Saba was also arrested on suspicion as having transferred money from Nambdar on two different occasions. The funds were received through a relative who came from Iran to visit Israel, as well as part during a meeting with one of Nambdar’s emissaries in Turkey.

A 50-year-old resident of Jerusalem was the fifth person arrested in the case. She was in contact with Nambdar for about a year and a half until her arrest. The agency said that she received 1,240 Australian dollars in exchange for various business ventures and charity projects that she participated in.

All suspects are Israelis of Iranian descent and the four women involved have been indicted on charges of making contact with a foreign agent and face a maximum sentence of 15 years. The names of those involved have been banned from publication following a court decision and following gag orders issued at the request of the suspects’ defense attorneys.
According to Haaretz, they have been in jail, two of them since November, “but the Shin Bet, the police and the state prosecutor didn’t make that known until Tuesday.” The report also said that they were prevented from meeting with their lawyers for the first 10 days of their detention.

“This is a serious case, in which there was the intention to establish a spy network for Iran, operating within the State of Israel,” said a senior Shin Bet official.
Though the suspects said that they had no intention of harming Israeli security, the Shin Bet official said that “with their heinous acts, those involved endangered themselves, their family members and innocent Israeli citizens, whose details were passed on to Iranian intelligence, in addition to information passed on about Israeli and American targets in Israel in a way that could be used for terrorist purposes.”

According to the official, there’s been an increase in attempts by Iranian intelligence agents to reach out to Israeli citizens in an attempt to gather intelligence that can assist the Islamic Republic in its fight against Israel.

“We call on the citizens of the State of Israel to be vigilant in the face of an unusual request, which they have received online,” the Shin Bet said, adding that the agency “will continue to thwart Iranian intelligence activities, including monitoring its activities on social networks.”

ifmat - Shin Bet announces arrest of 5 Israelis enlisted to spy for Iran1

Source » jpost