The Israel Security Agency (ISA, commonly known as Shin Bet) together with the country’s police have been investigating an online Iranian espionage network that recruited several Israeli women with the aim of performing various activities within the state’s borders.

According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the women were approached on Facebook by a man who presented himself by the name Rambod Namdar, and claimed to be a Jewish man residing in Iran.

At the operative’s request, interaction continued through WhatsApp. “Rambod” avoided revealing his face in video chats he held with the women, claiming that his camera was not working. One of the women being investigated suspected that “Rambod” was acting on behalf of the Iranian Intelligence services, yet kept contact with him for several years.

She performed various assignments “Rambod” requested, such as covertly photographing the US embassy as well as interiors of various government buildings, providing information on the security arrangements of a local shopping mall, and gathering intelligence about senior officials in the Israeli security establishment.

Another woman now in custody was in touch with “Rambod” for more than four years, during which she performed various assignments for him, and received an accumulated sum of about $5,000. Among her assignments: trying to steer her son to serve in the IDF Intelligence Directorate; establishing a club for Iranian expats and transferring personal information and photos of members; photographing voting polls; becoming close with a female member of the Israeli parliament, and more.

“This is a serious affair in which an Iranian espionage ring operating inside the State of Israel was exposed and taken down,” said a Senior ISA official. “Despite the suspects’ own suspicions that the man was an Iranian intelligence operative they decided to maintain the relationships and perform various assignments for him.

“Iranian intelligence uses the internet extensively, and recently we have been seeing an increase in the number of similar approaches to Israeli citizens. This is done in order to gather information that could help Iran in its fight against Israel; have people carry out various tasks and even draw Israelis to travel abroad with the intention of harming them.”

“The State of Israel is in an ongoing campaign with Iran. It is clear. We see never-ending efforts and attempts by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps to recruit Israeli citizens,” said Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett.

“These attempts go beyond security and intelligence; they are expanding to efforts to influence the citizens of Israel and Israeli society, sow discord and polarization, undermine political stability in Israel and damage the public’s trust in the government. I call upon Israel’s citizens to be cautious of these attempts. It is possible that behind the information that you consume or share on social media are the Iranians.”

Source » israeldefense