The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) intelligence agency announced on Thursday the uncovering of an Iranian plot to lure Israeli academics and businesspeople abroad for kidnapping and attack purposes.
Using a host of deceptive online tactics, Iranian intelligence elements also targeted former members of the Israeli defense establishment, turning to them as they pretended to be academics, journalists, businesspeople and philanthropists, according to the Shin Bet.
The Iranians used the authentic identities of foreign individuals who were not aware of what was being done using their identities.
Using “relevant cover stories,” the Iranian intelligence operatives sought to gather information on their targets and lure them abroad for kidnapping or attack purposes, said the agency.
The Shin Bet said “this is a known technique of Iranian intelligence and defense organizations, led by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps intelligence organization, the Quds Force and the Iranian Intelligence Ministry.”
The Iranian operatives sent emails to their targets, often using email addresses that were similar to those used by the individuals whose identities they stole. Examples include invitations to academic conferences and questions sent by operatives pretending to be a journalist. Some of the Israelis targeted reported the suspicious messages to security forces, but others were on the verge of going abroad, according to the statement by the Shin Bet.
A senior Shin Bet source noted that a substantial amount of information was gathered on the Iranian intelligence operatives behind the profiles. “The alertness of civilians, among other things, contributed to a thwarting of severe incidents,” said the source.
Added the source: “The Shin Bet, together with all of its partners in the intelligence community, will continue to thwart the activities of Iranian intelligence while continuously monitoring its activities online, and through the use of advanced tools and means.”