Iranian operatives used fake Facebook account to gather intel on Israeli targets — Shin Bet

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Facebook page of alleged Iranian operatives uncovered by the Shin Bet. (Shin Bet)
Facebook page of alleged Iranian operatives uncovered by the Shin Bet. (Shin Bet)

The Shin Bet security agency says it has uncovered an Iranian operation that tried to recruit Israeli civilians to collect information on targets in Israel.

The network used a fake Facebook profile under the name “Sara Puppi,” who was presented as a young Jewish woman with connections and business in Israel, according to the agency.

The profile had thousands of friends, mostly Israelis. After a connection was established, conversations would continue over WhatsApp, the Shin Bet says.

According to the Shin Bet, Puppi asked Israelis, including Shin Bet officers, to locate information about Israelis who are of interest to Iranian intelligence, as well as Arab diplomats and businessmen in Israel, in return for thousands of dollars as payment.

The Shin Bet says the operators of the profile also used emotional and romantic manipulation to get the information they were seeking.

In addition, the Iranian operators asked Israelis to place an “inciting” banner on billboards against Russian President Vladimir Putin, “with the aim of harming Israel-Russia relations,” the Shin Bet says

The agency says it had been monitoring the alleged Iranian operation from the start.

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