Monday, 03 July 2023 5:02 PM
Turkish authorities say they have uncovered and disrupted a vast “ghost” Mossad spy network centered in Istanbul, following months of surveillance.
The substantial efforts by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) exposed 56 operatives allegedly spying on non-Turkish citizens in Turkey in the service of the Israeli spy agency Mossad, Turkey’s Daily Sabah newspaper reported on Monday.
MIT and the Anti-Terrorism Branch of the Istanbul Police Department also managed to arrest seven of the suspected spies during a collaborative operation, the report further said, adding that the detainees, according to the agency’s counterintelligence unit, had confessed to working for Mossad in their testimonies.
“The seven suspects are among the 56 operatives linked to a total of nine networks, which are each overseen by nine Mossad agents based in Tel Aviv and have the ability to operate on an international scale,” the reported cited MIT as saying.
The vast network consisted of citizens from various West Asian countries, the agency said.
The findings by MIT also revealed that the Mossad agents would gather information about foreigners through various surveillance methods, vehicle movements using GPS, and hacking into password-protected networks using Wi-Fi and location tracking devices.
Furthermore, the spies also physically followed various targets determined by Mossad and filmed one-on-one meetings in an operation that, according to the report, “was supervised by an Israeli of Arab origin, Soliman Agbaria.”
These Mossad spies also used several fake websites in multiple languages, mainly Arabic, to secure technical locations and real IP addresses of the targeted individuals, the report said.
All communication between Mossad agents in Turkey and abroad was done through single-use mobile phone lines owned by fake individuals in Spain, England, Germany, Sweden, Malaysia, Indonesia and Belgium.
“One of the group’s leaders, a Mossad spy codenamed ‘Shirin Alayan’ whose real identity MIT was unable to determine, used a German phone line to instruct a Palestinian named ‘Khaled Nijim’ to set up bogus news platforms like ‘najarland.com, almeshar.com, nasrin-news.com and hresource.co.uk.’ These websites featured exclusively pinpoint articles to attract targets who would then click on virus links, enabling the network to infiltrate their phones,” the report said.
MIT also found that Mossad sent its spies of Arab origin in Istanbul abroad, particularly to Lebanon and Syria, to secure intelligence and mark locations to be struck by armed drones.
Back in May, for instance, Turkish media outlets reported that local authorities had managed to arrest 11 people accused of being part of a Mossad-led network.
Turkey has also broken Mossad-aligned spy rings in 2022 and 2021.