Pro-Palestine activists in Turkey protest against Israeli violence in Palestine. (Photo: BDS Türkiye/Twitter)
Turkish authorities have uncovered an undercover Mossad ring operating in the country and detained at least seven suspected spies working for the infamous Israeli intelligence agency, multiple news reports stated on Monday, July 3. Following months of surveillance, the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT) exposed a “ghost cell” made up of 56 special operatives working for the Israeli Mossad. The operation, divided into nine different smaller networks, was reportedly working in Istanbul to gather intelligence against Hezbollah, Syria, and others, with the ultimate aim to conduct targeted drone or airstrikes.
The seven operatives who were arrested have reportedly confessed to spying for Mossad. According to information provided to Turkish news outlets by the authorities, the operatives were working on orders of nine senior Mossad officials based in the Israeli capital Tel Aviv. They were tasked with collecting ‘biographical intelligence’ on non-Turkish foreign nationals living in Turkey, hacking into their phones, and other electronic devices, and conducting surveillance on them and their vehicles. Some of those involved in the spying ring are Turkish nationals working for Israel. The majority of people targeted were Palestinians and from other Arab nationalities.
Detailing the modus operandi used by the Mossad operatives, news reports revealed a wide variety of covert actions and measures used to carry out surveillance and intelligence gathering. The most notable is Mossad sending its Arab-origin operatives to bordering Arab countries such as Syria and Lebanon to locate and verify sites used by Hezbollah, one being mentioned is the Hrair Hreik municipality in the Lebanese capital Beirut.
The operatives were also carrying out intelligence work using GPS devices, wifi and password capturing software, online routing, hacking, and other kinds of spyware, media reports said. The operatives also reportedly created fake news and other websites in Arabic and other languages to lure their targets to willingly reveal personal details about themselves, such as their location, IP addresses, etc. Articles in these websites would be infected with spyware which when clicked on and accessed by the targets would infect their phone, giving full access to their phones to the Mossad operatives.
Mossad has been notorious for carrying out disruptive and illegal intelligence gathering and military activities across the world since the founding of the state of Israel. Turkey had exposed a similar Mossad spying ring in May, at a time when the country was going through a heated election. At that time, 11 people were detained by the MIT including two Turkish nationals, who the Turkish authorities suspected of spying on Iranian nationals and an Iran-based company on behalf of the Mossad.
The news of the spying ring bust comes at a time when both Turkey and Israel have been trying to improve their bilateral relations, which have been under strain for some time.