Israel allegedly used crypto to conceal its hunt for Hamas in Turkey

Israel’s intelligence service has been accused of using crypto to recruit spies in Turkey as it seeks to track down and kidnap Palestinians living in the country, Turkish authorities claim. 

As reported by the Financial Times on Tuesday, Turkey’s interior minister Ali Yerlikay announced the detention of 34 people linked to Mossad following raids across the country. 

According to a senior Turkish official, suspects “were involved in reconnaissance, surveillance, assault, and kidnapping operations and/or plots targeting foreign nationals in [Turkey] on Mossad’s behalf.”

Reuters reports that the Turkish official claims that recruits were paid by Mossad through intermediaries, live couriers, and crypto so that funds couldn’t be traced back to the agency

In addition, the official said that job listings posted online asked recruits to photograph targets, plant cars with GPS devices, and assist Israeli agents “for their ultimate mission.” Mossad reportedly trained suspects abroad and kept regular contact with them via encrypted messaging platforms.

Read more: White House urged to curb Hamas crypto use amid escalating crisis in Gaza

The raids were conducted by the country’s government counter-terrorism and intelligence agencies, and it’s reported that €150,000 ($165,100), an unlicensed firearm, and ‘digital materials’ were seized.

Tensions between Turkey and Israel have escalated following the war in Gaza. Last month, Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Israel would “pay a very, very heavy price” if it attempts to assassinate Hamas members in Turkey, as it does not consider them terrorists.

Erdoğan previously compared Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Adolf Hitler, while Netanyahu hit back, claiming that Erdoğan cannot preach morality as the president is responsible for massacring the Kurds and holds the “world record for imprisoning journalists.”

This latest accusation of Israeli espionage in Turkey has heightened concerns of a greater conflict in the Middle East. Earlier this week, Lebanese prime minister Najib Mikati accused Israel of attempting to drag it into a regional war after Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri was killed in a drone strike in southern Beirut on Tuesday.

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