15 Arab, Palestinian Mossad spies arrested in Turkey, admit to collaboration - report

Turkish media claimed a Mossad network was caught in the country, just weeks after Hamas-affiliated media made a similar claim.

A Turkish flag, with the New and the Suleymaniye mosques in the background, flies on a passenger ferry in Istanbul, Turkey, April 11, 2019. (photo credit: MURAD SEZER/REUTERS)
A Turkish flag, with the New and the Suleymaniye mosques in the background, flies on a passenger ferry in Istanbul, Turkey, April 11, 2019.
(photo credit: MURAD SEZER/REUTERS)
A Mossad network of 15 Arabs has been caught by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT), Turkish news agency Sabah claimed on Thursday. On Friday, reports claimed that one of the members admitted to collaborating with the Mossad. The report comes just weeks after Hamas-affiliated media claimed that Palestinian spies were working for the Mossad in Turkey.
The report claimed that the suspects were split into five cells of three people each and were all arrested in a covert operation on October 7. The Turkish Sabah newspaper claimed that it was able to obtain the names and photographs of the alleged spies as well.
One of the five cells was in contact with and met with case officers from the Mossad and provided information and documents important for Israel. Information about Turkish and foreign students in Turkey was given to the Mossad in exchange for payment, according to Sabah.
The Turkish TRT Haber news reported that Palestinian and Syrian students were targeted by the cells, with a focus on students receiving training in the defense industry, as well as information on associations and organizations. The TRT report included video of the arrests.
One of the main spies, identified as A.B. by the report, allegedly collected information about what kind of facilities Turkey provides for Palestinians opposed to Israel in the country. A.B. entered Turkey in late 2015 and was reported as a missing person in June of this year, according to the report. The report he was missing was intended to divert attention from the cell, which was already under surveillance by then, Sabah claimed.
 Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) and Hamas' Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh shake hands during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara January 3, 2012 (credit: STRINGER/ REUTERS) Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) and Hamas' Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh shake hands during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara January 3, 2012 (credit: STRINGER/ REUTERS)
Another two suspects, identified as R.A.A. and M.A.S., were also reported as missing.
The report comes just weeks after the Hamas-affiliated Shehab news reported that seven Palestinians who had been reported missing in Turkey had been arrested for spying on “Palestinian national figures” in Turkey for the Palestinian Authority’s General Intelligence Services (GIS) and the Mossad. The report claimed that Turkish intelligence services caught the spies.
The Middle East Eye news site reported on Thursday that it was able to confirm that the 15 suspects had been arrested on charges of “espionage and working for Mossad to gather information on Palestinian citizens living in Turkey.”
MEE added that six Palestinians who were reported missing in Turkey since September were among the suspects. One of the brothers of one of the suspects told MEE that the reports about espionage were false and that the whole situation was a misunderstanding.
Shehab reported on Thursday that the Turkish report confirmed their earlier report.
Last month, Palestinian media reported that a number of Palestinians had gone missing in Turkey. Earlier this month, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry announced that the whereabouts of some of the missing Palestinians had been identified, after Turkish authorities contacted their families.
The Palestinians were recruited with offers of payment and threats of obstructing the renewal of their passports, according to Shehab, with Turkish security services finding that sums of money coming from the GIS were being sent to Palestinians who were “moving in a suspicious and intense manner,” especially after Operation Guardian of the Walls in May.
The goal of the GIS spies was to prepare for assassination operations against leading Palestinian figures in Turkey, according to Shehab. The report claimed that Israel was reluctant to carry out operations itself in Turkey due to concerns of a reaction by Turkish President Erdogan.
The Shehab report additionally claimed that Omar al-Nayef, who died in the Palestinian Embassy in Bulgaria in 2016, was killed in an operation conducted by GIS chief Majed Faraj for Israel.