Israeli Security Services Expose Iranian Plot to Kidnap Israelis Using False Social Media Profiles to Lure Them Abroad
Israel’s Shin Bet domestic security service and the Mossad foreign intelligence agency have uncovered an Iranian plot to use fake online personas on social media to kidnap Israelis.
According to a statement on Monday from the Government Press Office, the Iranians were seeking to employ what is referred to as a “honey-trap” in the intelligence world — using the promise of business or romantic encounters in order to draw in targets. Iran has used this method in the past against its own dissidents in Europe.
In this case, Iranian agents created fake Instagram profiles of women ostensibly involved in business and tourism. These profiles would then be used to make connections with Israelis and lure them abroad for meetings during which they were to be kidnapped.
The Shin Bet and Mossad determined that the countries in which this method was to be employed include Middle Eastern and Gulf countries—with which Israel recently forged diplomatic and business ties—as well as Turkey, along with others as far away as Europe and Africa.
“There is genuine concern that such activity by Iranian operatives could lead to attempts to harm or abduct Israelis in those countries in which Iranians are active,” the GPO said.
As a result, Israel’s security services are advising Israelis involved in overseas business activity to remain on alert and to avoid contact with unknown profiles on social media.