One of the figures the Iranians tried to seduce is former defense minister and former IDF chief of Staff Moshe Ayalon.
By World Israel News Staff
The Shin Bet, Israel’s Security Agency, announced Thursday that it thwarted an Iranian plot to lure prominent Israeli academics and entrepreneurs as well as members of Israel’s defense establishment to fly abroad – likely with the intention to kidnap them and possibly harm them.
Over the last several months, the Shin Bet said, Iranian officials have been approaching these Israelis while posing as academics, journalists, businessmen and philanthropists, using the identity of foreign individuals who were unaware of the activity.
For example, Daily Telegraph journalist Con Coughlin, a contributor to The Gatestone Institute, was among those whose identity was stolen. The operatives used the email address coughlin@gatestoneInstitute.org, which is similar to Coughlin’s real email, according to The Jerusalem Post.
“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 stated.
In some of the cases listed by the Shin Bet, the operatives invited potential victims to a conference in Europe, using email addresses similar to official institutes and with their logos. Once an initial connection was made, the security agency said, discussions would continue over WhatsApp.
The agency did not name the people targeted or provide any details, such as how long the activity had been going on. Nor did it cite any evidence.
Hebrew-language Israel Hayom reported later in the evening, however, that among those targeted was Moshe (Boogie) Ayalon, who served as IDF chief of staff from 2002 to 2005 and as Israel’s defense minister from 2013 to 2016. After the officials tried to make contact with him, Ya’alon became suspicious and reported it to the Shin Bet, according to the report.
Most recently, Ya’alon, 71, entered the business world. In November, he was appointed as chairman of Synaptech, a new Israeli-owned venture capital fund based in the United Arab Emirates.
Ya’alon and his spokespeople have declined to comment, Israel Hayom reported.