An Iranian intelligence agent posed as a Jewish-Iranian on social media and recruited several Israeli women to conduct secret missions for the Islamic Republic, the Shin Bet announced on Wednesday.
The Iranian approached the Israelis, mostly females of Persian ancestry, through social media, usually by pretending to be an Iranian Jew named “Rambod Namdar.”
The Shin Bet emphasized that despite the women’s suspicion that “Rambod” was an Iranian intelligence official, some of them continued their contact with him, agreed to perform tasks assigned to them, and received funds for their efforts.
The court placed a gag order on disclosing the full identity of the suspects.
One of the suspects is a 40-year-old resident of Cholon, who suspected that “Rambod” was acting on behalf of the Iranian intelligence bodies, but had been in contact with him for several years.
She performed various tasks for the Iranian operator, including photographing the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, photographing the Interior Ministry in her hometown, and transmitting information on security arrangements and photographs of a mall in Cholon.
The investigation revealed that the suspect’s husband was aware of her connections with “Rambod,” and even spoke to “Rambod” himself, although he suspected that he was an Iranian intelligence source. He assisted his wife in carrying out one of her missions by helping her photograph the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv.
As part of the connection with “Rambod,” the suspect was asked to direct her son, who was about to be drafted into the IDF, to serve in the IDF Intelligence Division. Through her, “Rambod” spoke by phone with the son and gave his opinion on the level of his knowledge of the Persian language, without the son being aware of the context of things.
It was further revealed that the suspect was instructed by “Rambod” to gather intelligence about senior members of the defense establishment.
A second suspect is a 57-year-old resident of Beit Shemesh, who was in contact with “Rambod” for more than four years, during which she performed various tasks at his request and received a total of $5,000.
Acting on “Rambod’s” request, she attempted to direct her son to serve in the IDF’s Intelligence Corps, transferred low-grade military documentation of her son to the operator, as well as photos and videos from the military ceremony of her son’s enlistment.
She also acted to establish a club for Iranians in Beit Shemesh, and transferred the details of the Israelis active in the branch, photos and videos from the club’s meetings, and photos of participants.
She also transferred photos of a ballot box during the elections to the 23rd Knesset.
She also attempted to photograph the American Embassy in Yerushalayim but was unsuccessful after she was exposed by local security guards.
She also purchased electronic equipment and installed a hidden camera in a massage room in her home.
The suspect also approached an MK, made active moves to strengthen the relationship with her and passed on information about the relationship between them.
Finally, she was asked to perform additional tasks, such as buying a computer and cell phone and opening a business.
The third suspect, a 47-year-old resident of Kfar Saba, came up in the investigation as the one who transferred money from “Rambod” on two different occasions. The funds were received through a relative who came from Iran to visit Israel, and during a meeting with an emissary on behalf of “Rambod” in Turkey.
The fourth suspect, a 50-year-old resident of Yerushalayim, was in contact with “Rambod” for about a year and a half until her arrest.
As part of the connection, he transferred $1,240 to her, and in return received various details from her, and asked to participate with her in business ventures and charity projects in Israel, which he would fund.
A senior Shin Bet official stated that “this is a serious affair, in which an attempt to establish an Iranian spy network operating within the State of Israel was exposed and thwarted.”
“In their severe acts, those involved endangered themselves, their family members and innocent Israeli citizens, whose details were passed on to Iranian intelligence, in addition to information passed on about Israeli and American targets in Israel in a way that could be used for terrorist purposes,” he noted
The Shin Bet pointed out that Iranian intelligence sources make extensive use of the Internet, and recently there has been an increase in the number of attempts to contact Israeli citizens “for the purpose of gathering information that may assist Iran in the fight against Israel, passing instructions on the execution of missions, and even luring Israelis abroad in order to harm them.”
The security agency called on the citizens of the State of Israel to “be vigilant in the face of an exceptional request, which they have received in cyberspace, especially from elements who identify as Iranians.”