Turkey’s intelligence agency reportedly cracked a Mossad spy ring in an operation earlier this month, exposing five cells and arresting 15 men suspected of conducting covert activities on foreign students and Palestinians.

After tracking the network for over a year, the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) shared the information with counter-terrorism forces. According to the Sabah daily newspaper, a 200-strong team raided the cells in a secret operation across four provinces on October 7.

The Turkish newspaper reported that the arrested men had been instructed to gather information on foreign students, particularly Palestinians, enrolled in Turkish universities – with an eye on those thought to have a future in the defense industry. The spies were also allegedly tasked with looking into a number of other unspecified associations and organizations that hosted Palestinians in Turkey.

The network apparently used this information to put together profiles on individuals, which were then relayed to Mossad officials through end-to-end encryption programs like ProtonMail and SafeUM – a software that generates fake phone numbers. They also communicated through WhatsApp.

As compensation, the suspected agents were transferred payments via Western Union, Moneygram, and even Bitcoin in some cases, the paper said. The network also reportedly developed a courier system to transfer funds, using jewelry stores and markets.

One of the suspects, identified by his initials ‘A.B.’, was said to be a payment courier who was reported missing in Istanbul’s Maltepe district in June – in an apparent bid to mislead security forces. He was reportedly paid $10,000 this year for his spying activities, according to the paper.

Another individual named as ‘R.A.A’ apparently met with Mossad field agents in the Croatian capital of Zagreb and received payments of $1,000 and $1,200. A third member, ‘M.A.S’, travelled to Zurich twice to meet with an official. Like ‘A.B’, both men had previously been reported missing. (RT)