On July 24th, Israel’s Security Agency Shabak (Shin Bet) claimed it had uncovered Iranian efforts to recruit agents for espionage and terror attacks in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip through Social Media.
According to the security service, the Iranians reached out to potential operatives, initially via fake Facebook accounts and later through other messaging applications, but were for the most part unsuccessful.
According to the Shin Bet, the alleged efforts began in Syria under the supervision of a Syrian local known as Abu-Jihad.
According to Israeli claims, the Qods Force (an elite unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of Iran, whose unconventional warfare, intelligence activities and extraterritorial operations) allegedly carried out their parallel operation from the headquarters in Damascus (Syria), known as the “Glass House”. The operation was allegedly led by a staff officer at Quds Muhammad Negravi (Abu-Amir)
Israeli reports claim the recruiters were particularly interested in the Palestinians and Arabs living in Israel.
The newly minted agents were reportedly asked to collect information about military bases, security forces, personnel, police stations, hospitals and other critical facilities of the infrastructure and security system of Israel. Reports alleged that these objects were supposed to be targets for terrorist attacks.
The Israeli side continued by saying that over the past three months, security personnel coordinated with Israeli citizens who appeared to be targeted. Investigations reportedly showed communications with the Syrian based operatives developed quickly to a point whereby information was requested and plans to commit acts of terror against Israeli military and civilian targets were discussed.
For the last three months, since April, a broad counterterrorism operation was ongoing against recruits in Israel and the West Bank in which a number of Israeli citizens were involved, after intelligence indicated that they had been contacted and recruited by supposed Iranian handlers.
According to the official version of the investigation, intelligence showed that the recruits had transferred information to their handlers in Syria, and had stated their intention to carry out terrorist attacks against Israeli targets, both civilian and military.
The Shin Bet said:
“The vast majority of Israeli citizens refused to cooperate with them, because they suspected it was a hostile element and cut off contact with them.
An Israeli who receives a request from a network that he suspects is related to a terrorist body or organization is requested to update the police and to disconnect from that party immediately,” the Shin Bet said, adding that “security forces will continue to act with determination to thwart any activity by Iran and terrorist elements acting on its behalf against the security of the state.”
Shin Bet further said that this operation was not an isolated incident, as it is part of a series of such attempts in past months.
“Using social networks is a method known to intelligence agencies as being used by terrorist organizations, including Hamas and Hezbollah, to recruit activists,” the Shin Bet said.
In mid-April, the Shin Bet, in cooperation with the Israel Police, arrested 32-yearold Thaer Shafut from the Hebron area on suspicion of being in contact with Iranian intelligence. His arrest was announced on June 20th.
“During his ISA investigation, it was learned that Shafut had entered Israel on behalf of Iranian intelligence in order to carry out missions designed to advance the formation of cells in Israel and in Judea and Samaria for use in covert Iranian activity.”
He was indicted on June 10th, for allegedly coming into contact with an enemy, contact with a hostile organization and conspiracy to smuggle enemy funds into the area.
Definitely, just due to pure chance, the revelation by Israel of these alleged Iranian efforts comes just days after Iran reported that it had dismantled an alleged CIA Network operating in the country.
MORE ON THE TOPIC: