Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence service has exposed Iranian attempts to kidnap Israeli officials and businessmen to Tehran.
Right-wing newspaper, Israel Hayom, reported on Friday that among Iran’s targets was the former chief of staff and former defense minister, Moshe Yaalon.
Yaalon, who currently works as a researcher at several national security research institutes, had received an invitation to participate in an email research conference, the national Hebrew-language daily reported.
After receiving the invite, Yaalon was suspicious of the source communication and went to the Shin Bet. The Israeli intelligence service then confirmed Yaalon’s doubts and thereby thwarted the potential kidnap.
Before Yaalon’s story took place, the Shin Bet had warned that Iranian intelligence agencies were trying to target Israeli academics, former security officials, journalists and businessmen, by gathering information about them, and luring them out of the country in order to kidnap them.
Iranians used fictitious email accounts to contact Israeli officials while impersonating real-life academics, journalists, businessmen, and philanthropists who are unaware their identities are being used for such a purpose, the Shin Bet said.
Some of the names used were those of Swiss researcher Oliver Thränert, head of the Center for Security Studies, and British journalist Con Coughlin, defense editor at The Daily Telegraph.
The statement further detailed that the Iranians would present a believable "cover story" and try to gather information on the Israeli officials or invite them to conferences abroad, possibly to abduct or hurt them.
“It is a well-known method of operation of the Iranian intelligence and security bodies, headed by the Intelligence Organization of the Revolutionary Guards, Quds Force, and the Ministry of Intelligence,” the Shin Bet said.
It warned that Iran continues its attempts to establish contacts with Israeli citizens through social media networks, using false identities, to establish a social or romantic relationship, for the purpose of luring them out of the country and kidnapping or targeting them.
Israelis believe that these attempts are part of the covert war between the two countries, and that the Iranians are being subjected to strong attacks by Israeli intelligence agencies and are trying to respond to them.