The Shin Bet officially confirmed that an advanced Iranian espionage network has been operating in Judea and Samaria, Israel’s Biblical heartland.
Iran enlisted the help of Muhammad Maharma, 29-year-old computer science student from Hebron. Despite being the lead in Israel, the Shin Bet said Maharma received his directions from an Iranian operative in South Africa.
The network had two other members named Dia’a Sarahnehand Nour Maharma, both 22 and both also from Hebron.
“The operation demonstrates the Iranian involvement in encouraging terror attacks against Israel and also shows the forces being sent by Iran to countries around the world, in order to advance enemy activities against Israel,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.
“The operation demonstrates the Iranian involvement in encouraging terror attacks against Israel.”
According to the Shin-Bet, Muhammad Maharma was enlisted to work for Iran in 2015, by his cousin, Backer Maharma. Backer Maharma moved to South Africa from Hebron where he started working for Iranian intelligence.
“Backer even introduced Muhammad, on a number of occasions, to Iranian officials, some of whom visited [South Africa] from Tehran in order to meet him,” the Shin Bet said.
The Shin-Bet’s investigation uncovered that South Africa has become a “significant front for finding, enlisting and deploying agents to Israel and the West Bank” for Iranian intelligence.
The Iranian network based in Hebron was given a various directives by Iranian intelligence servises. These included recruiting people to carry out shooting and suicide bombing attacks.
Most shockingly, the network was supposed to recruit Israeli Arabs specifically high level journalists to spy on and take pictures of sensitive locations.
Three were charged in a military court for attempting to join an illegal organization. Maharma was charged additionally with contacting an enemy agent, and receiving money from an enemy nation.
The Shin-Bet’s report comes at a sensitive time in the Palestinian Authority’s relationship with the Israeli government. As the PA shops around for new benefactors due to the Trump administration’s threat to cut them off, Iran becomes the most likely address. Of course the Iranian people might have second thoughts on their government wasting even more money on failed Arab initiatives.