January 12, 2022
Israel said it broke up an Iranian spy ring that recruited Israelis to photograph strategic sites, gather intelligence and other offenses in exchange for money, The Times of Israel reported on Wednesday.
The spy ring consisted of four women and one man, who were all Jewish immigrants from Iran or the descendants of Iranian immigrants. The five were arrested.
“The suspects took photographs of strategically significant sites in Israel, including the US Consulate in Tel Aviv, attempted to form relationships with politicians, provided information about security arrangements at various sites, and committed other offenses — all at the direction of [an] Iranian operative and in exchange for thousands of dollars,” according to Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service.
In one case, Shin Bet said the Iranian operative running the spy ring tried to convince one of the suspects to improve their Persian language and join the military intelligence unit in the IDF.
Shin Bet identified the Iranian operative behind the spy ring as Rambud Namdar, who pretended to be a Jew residing in Tehran.
According to a Shin Bet official: “There has been an increase by Iranian intelligence agents reaching out to Israeli citizens in an attempt to gather intelligence that can assist [Iran] in its fight against Israel,” The Jerusalem Post reported.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett praised the Shin Bet for stopping the spy ring: “Israel is in a campaign against Iran. We see clear efforts and incessant attempts by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps to recruit Israeli citizens.”
Israel and Iran have been long time foes, and Tel Aviv sees Tehran as the greatest threat to its existence. The two have been waging a shadow war for years, and regularly exchange threats and accuse each other sabotage attacks against the other.