Israeli security service Shin Bet said it had busted an Iranian spy ring of four women and one man — all Iranian-Israeli nationals — who collected sensitive information in exchange for money.
The suspects are accused of providing Iranian intelligence officers with photos of various strategic Israeli locations, including the U.S. consulate in Tel Aviv. Members of the rings are also said to have attempted to establish ties with Israeli politicians at the request of their Iranian brokers, who posed as Jews living in Iran and named after Rambod Namdar.
According to Israeli media reports, the five people involved in the criminal activities are all Jewish immigrants from Iran or descendants of Iranian immigrants.
It is alleged that Namdar first reached out to Israeli women on Facebook before switching to the messaging service WhatsApp.
The suspects have all been indicted in the Jerusalem District Court over the past month.
Their lawyers argued that the women did not know Namdar’s true identity and had no intention of undermining Israel’s security.
However, Shin Bet insists that at least some of the suspects have good reason to suspect that their penpal is not who he claims to be. The niece of one of the women involved, who lives in Iran and visited her relatives in Israel, brought a $1,000 jewelry reward from Namdar, warning the suspects”The Jewish community in Tehran did not know.However, according to Israeli security officials, the woman continued to follow the Iranians’ orders despite everything.
The other suspects are also said to have received thousands of dollars in exchange for their help.
The indictment alleges that one of the women did refuse to perform some of Namdar’s assignments, which included providing him with the email address of then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the IDF Commander-in-Chief Aviv Kochawi. Phone numbers, as well as headquarters and military bases for the Mossad.
The Iranian agent is also said to have repeatedly requested nude photos of the suspect – which eventually led to the woman blocking Namdar’s phone number.
While the discovery of the so-called espionage ring did reveal weaknesses that Iran might be trying to exploit, apparently no one had access to critical classified material, so their alleged activities may not have seriously undermined Israel’s national security, The Times of Israel reported.
However, commenting on the case, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett urged caution among his compatriots and women because “The efforts and attempts of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to recruit Israeli citizens are never-ending.the Prime Minister added”The people behind the information you consume or share online“Possibly Iranians. Shin Bet echoes these warnings, noting that Iranian intelligence is not only seeking to obtain sensitive information, but also trying to lure the Israelis”In order to hurt them abroad,“As claimed by the security services.
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