update deskIsrael at War

€70,000 for murder: Iranian catphishers try to snare Israelis

The Shin Bet exposed Tehran's efforts to recruit Israelis online.

A post from a false social media profile. Screenshot via Shin Bet.
A post from a false social media profile. Screenshot via Shin Bet.

The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) thwarted Iranian efforts to recruit Israeli citizens online to carry out terrorist attacks in recent months, it was cleared for publication on Thursday.

The Iranian agents set up false accounts on various social media platforms such as Telegram, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and X. They then tried to draw Israelis under their influence with the promise of jobs, money, gifts, services, dating and more. Other recruitment efforts were made through an unspecified website app that connects job seekers with service providers.

Eventually, the Israelis would be asked to perform seemingly innocent tasks that benefitted Iranian intelligence, such as taking photos of a specific location, providing information about a street address, or acting against the families of hostages. In one case, an Israeli was offered €70,000 (nearly $77,000) to commit a murder.

But the requests, as well as the frequent broken Hebrew grammar, raised the suspicions of some Israelis who alerted security officials. In an audio recording released by the Shin Bet, the Iranian offered an Israeli man $100 to photograph a certain house. The Israeli repeatedly replies that he can do it on Sunday, but the Iranian does not understand that.

The Shin Bet said it was able to identify and monitor many fictitious profiles and even some of the Iranians behind the online activities.

The agency also released a video featuring screenshots from the fake accounts and chats. The video included a warning issued in Farsi directly to the Iranians.

A Shin Bet agent says, “If you play with fire, it will have dangerous implications. I advise you to guard your lives and your families by not getting into things that are none of your business.”

Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office earlier this month confirmed a Cypriot newspaper’s report of an Iranian plot to target Israeli citizens on the island nation.

Cypriot security authorities, in partnership with the Mossad intelligence agency, thwarted the Iranian scheme.

The Shin Bet revealed in September that Israel caught a Tehran-sponsored terrorist cell plotting to carry out attacks in the Jewish state, including assassinating National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.

Israeli forces arrested five suspects—three Palestinians and two Israelis—who were recruited by the Islamic Republic.

Also in September, Mossad director David Barnea revealed that the intelligence agency, in cooperation with its international allies, had at that point foiled 27 plots by Iran in 2023 to murder Israelis and Jews outside the borders of the Jewish state.

Speaking at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT)’s 22nd World Summit on Counter-Terrorism at Herzliya’s Reichman University, Barnea spoke of a “significant increase in attempts to attack Jews and Israelis worldwide” by what he called “the Terroristic Republic of Iran.”

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