New Delhi: Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency has been using social networking site Facebook as a honey trap to gather secret and confidential information about the armed forces, police indicated on Tuesday without naming the agency.
Delhi Police officers, who busted a pan-India ISI-backed espionage racket earlier this month said that some fictitious Facebook accounts, purportedly belonging to women, are being used to identify and lure defence personnel.
They first befriend these defence personnel after drawing their attention with attractive profile photos and start getting familiar over chats. Slowly they encourage the targeted personnel to divulge matters considered secret that can be misused by the enemy.
“A few serving defence personnel are being pulled into the espionage network through these honey traps. Some fictitious Facebook accounts of women are being used for this,” Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) Ravindra Yadav confirmed.
Delhi Police sleuths dug out this information during the questioning of 44-year-old library assistant, Kafaitullah Khan alias Master Raja, who was arrested in the capital on November 26 on charges of spying for ISI, official sources said.
Khan, a resident of Rajouri in Jammu and Kashmir, was selected for the BSF in 1992, but he did not join the service. He was selected by the Jammu and Kashmir Police in 1993, but quit after getting a library assistant's job in 1995.
The information resulted in the arrest of Ranjith KK, a serving leading aircraftsman (LAC) of the Indian Air Force (IAF), from Punjab’s Bathinda Air Force Station on Monday. Ranjith, who hails from Kerala, had joined the service in 2010.
An officer privy to the investigation told IANS they gathered the information a fortnight ago that Ranjith was being tapped for information by the cross-border spy agency.
A Crime Branch team led by Additional Commissioner of Police Alok Kumar and Assistant Commissioner of Police K.P.S. Malhotra, comprising Inspectors Surinder Sandhu, Sunil Kumar, P.C. Yadav and other subordinate staff, shared the information with military intelligence and the IAF liasoning unit and arrested Ranjith.
“Ranjith was fooled by a cyber entity in the name of Damini McNaught who pretended to work as an executive with a British magazine that wanted some Indian Air Force information for its next issue,” the sources said.
“Ranjith had shared information on some recent IAF exercises, movement of aircraft and deployment of various air force units with the woman, who spoke with a British accent during a VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) call that was intercepted by us,” the source said.
Ranjith, who was sacked during IAF’s administrative inquiry, had shared the information in an interview with the woman, who had promised to pay him a fee for the information he provided her.
"Delhi Police shared information with the defence ministry about the honey trap being used over social media by ISI," another officer, who did not want to be named, said.
The officer said military intelligence and Delhi Police sleuths were jointly investigating if any other defence personnel was trapped by the ISI using this method.