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Iran seeking to lure Israelis abroad, could kidnap or harm them – intel agencies

Shin Bet, Mossad say Iranian agents are using fake Instagram accounts to draw Israelis overseas with business offers, romantic propositions

Examples of fictitious profiles used by Iranian operatives to lure Israelis (courtesy of Shin Bet).
Examples of fictitious profiles used by Iranian operatives to lure Israelis (courtesy of Shin Bet).

Iranian agents have been attempting to lure Israelis abroad to meet, in an effort to kidnap or otherwise harm them, Israeli intelligence agencies warned Monday.

The Iranian intelligence operatives set up fake Instagram profiles, usually of women in the tourism business, and contacted Israelis. They attempted to draw Israelis to meetings abroad with business propositions or offers of romantic rendezvouses, the Shin Bet security service and Mossad intelligence agency said in a joint statement.

They warned Israelis who conduct business abroad to be wary of queries from social media accounts.

“Security officials call on Israeli citizens who maintain business ties abroad to be aware and vigilant about inquiries on social networks from profiles they do not recognize, and to avoid contact with them,” the agencies said.

The countries named by the agencies include Arab countries, Turkey, the Gulf states, and countries in the Caucasus, Africa and Europe.

The Shin Bet and Mossad also said there was a “real concern” that the Iranian intelligence effort could lead to attempts to hurt or kidnap Israeli citizens overseas.

Last month, with international travel again picking up amid Israel’s rapid vaccination drive, the National Security Council issued a travel advisory warning that Iran may still try to attack Israelis overseas.

Examples of fictitious profiles used by Iranian operatives to lure Israelis (courtesy of ISA).

The warning from the intelligence agencies followed an apparent act of sabotage Sunday at Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment site. The incident, which reportedly caused massive damage to the facility, came as the Biden administration moves to rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal limiting Iran’s nuclear program, with Israel opposing a US return to the original accord.

It also came as Israel and Iran are engaged in a maritime shadow war, with both sides blaming the other for explosions on vessels.

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