A Lebanese citizen who was once a Hezbollah activist has been using TikTok to recruit Palestinians in the West Bank and east Jerusalem to help him carry out terror attacks, the Shin Bet revealed on Thursday.
The man, whose real name is Salah Sawati, is known as Abu Asan. The Israel Security Agency revealed three different TikTok accounts he was using to contact the people he targeted.
As part of the investigation, the Shin Bet arrested two east Jerusalem residents who were in contact with Abu Asan. The two allegedly gathered intelligence and sent him photos of places in Israel for him to target for his terror attacks.
How did Abu Asan get his targets to help him?
The agency’s investigation revealed that after making contact with his targets on TikTok, Abu Asan would get to know them and discuss topics such as Jerusalem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Once he had established a relationship with them, he would move the conversations to Telegram where he would ask them to carry out tasks for him like sending him photos and videos of different locations in Israel.
In some cases, he posed these tasks as innocent requests, but once he felt the relationship was strong enough, he would actively ask the people to help him carry out terror attacks.
The accounts used by Abu Asan were revealed by the Shin Bet to be yarab_nasrak, alfath_kadem and freefree_palestine. alftah_kadem features a series of videos spreading antisemitic conspiracy theories about the Rothschilds, a famous wealthy Jewish family known for its philanthropy; freefree_palestine features videos glorifying terrorists such as Ibrahim al-Nabulsi and Maher Younis.
All three accounts are still active.
This is only one of many ways in which terrorists who don’t have access to Israel lure Palestinians in the West Bank and east Jerusalem into helping them carry out terror attacks in the Jewish state. Last week, the Shin Bet revealed that Hamas terrorists were tricking Palestinians into unknowingly delivering cash and weapons intended for terrorism by contacting them on Facebook and posing as people looking to hire couriers.
“The Shin Bet takes seriously attempts to hitch Israeli residents into terrorist activity and calls to show alertness in light of the threat reflected by various terrorist entities on social media,” the agency said in a statement.