Shin Bet nabs Israeli citizen accused of spying for Iran
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Shin Bet nabs Israeli citizen accused of spying for Iran

Iranian handlers allegedly asked suspect, whose name can’t be published, to carry out attacks in Israel, gather intelligence for them

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

An encrypted cellphone, USB device and piece of paper with a code on it that were found in the possession of an Israeli citizen suspected of spying on Israel for Iran, who was arrested on March 16, 2020. (Shin Bet)
An encrypted cellphone, USB device and piece of paper with a code on it that were found in the possession of an Israeli citizen suspected of spying on Israel for Iran, who was arrested on March 16, 2020. (Shin Bet)

The Shin Bet security service on Tuesday said it arrested an Israeli citizen last month who had made contact with Iranian intelligence agents and was asked to work on their behalf against the country.

On Tuesday, the suspect — whose name is subject to a gag order — was indicted in a Central District court after being arrested on March 16.

According to the security service, the man’s Iranian handlers asked him to carry out terror attacks against Israeli targets, provide information about Israeli defense and strategic sites, recommend ways to sow discord in Israeli society, and locate Arab Israelis who may also be interested in working on behalf of Iran.

“This investigation shows again that Iran and its proxies are working to recruit and take advantage of Israelis for the interests of Iran,” the Shin Bet said.

PFLP member Khaled Yamani, who allegedly acted as a contact person for an Israeli citizen suspected of spying on Israel for Iran, who was arrested on March 16, 2020. (Shin Bet)

The security service said the man made multiple trips abroad to meet his handlers, including a Lebanese national, Khaled Yamani, who is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror group and who the Shin Bet said was working on behalf of the Iranians.

“During these trips, he received funds, training, encryption tools and codes in order to be able to maintain contact with them in an encrypted way after he returned to Israel,” the Shin Bet said.

When the man was arrested, the arresting officers found an encryption device and a USB drive that the Shin Bet said the suspect tried to destroy. The security service did not say what was found on the USB drive.

The security service said the case also showed growing ties between Iran and the PFLP “and their efforts to spy and conduct terrorist activities inside Israel, even as the world is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, which hit Iran extremely hard.”

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