Are you Honey Trapped?: Indian weakness and the enemy knows it well… Some recent cases merit attention including that of Pakistani woman –
India is a strange country where emotions play a large role in almost everything. Recently a pakistani woman who has come all the way from Pakistan is making headlines as the woman married to a pakistani man and mother of 4, has come to India illegally chasing her Indian lover. People are divided as to her treatment walmost in 50:50 ratio. We wonder why do we consider such cases worth discussing even if the love is true. She should be immediately sent back and if she wants with her lover. That’s it.
Spying is an old profession just like prostitution etc. It has been deployed since the days of Ramayana, Mahabharata and so one can understand its significance and value if you are still a conservative person who does not put much importance to these two oldest professions.
Certainly our blog is only on one of these profession i.e. Spying and not the other one. Spying has many forms and the old guard will be a testimony to this art which allowed people to infiltrate enemy areas masking the real identity and gathering critical information. In any war ‘Information gathering’ is important as it tells in advance what the enemy is planning to do and its vision. In short it gives a direct leverage over any enemy. In earlier days WW2, WW1 and in the cold war era the Americans, Russia, Germans, UK, France, Hungary, Poland they all were hot spots of spying with men and instruments used as ‘listening posts’. The embassies are fairly used for spying purposes and many posts that we cannot name explicitly are basically meant for spies from well known agencies all over the world. Agencies like the CIA and others have a dedicated post like Station Head which is inside the embassy and hence gets diplomatic protection. Even Ambassadors are known to collect information on their own and through networking. Cultural centers of various embassies are another hot spot and nicely covered place for such covert operations.
The American operation titled ‘Octopus’ is a well documented spy project by the Americans on the Russian embassy. Similalry there are well documented spy projects by Russia on America.
In modern days credit cards, passports , cell phones etc can all be used for passing information not only about your movement but also what you are talking and whom you are talking to. Certain websites like google, facebook and even gmails are not fault proof and can pass on your vital information to a head of state or agencies. Twitter also has its shares of contributions. Drones and satellites are also very well deployed to high value targets.
Drones, Cyber and Honey Trap
But the modern day spy skills that we will be talking about are a bit different which are mastered by our two closest neighbours. While China uses Cyber hacking Pakistan has got the expertise of using women for spying also called popularly as Honey Trap.
The Chinese operate drones for spying projects code named as ‘Dove’ which keeps tabs on citizens of China and also enemy nations. The recent Chinese project whereby they flew an object /balloon over Atlantic and Alaska and critical American and strategic places including Air Bases was shot down. It is said that China has flown such objects across the world and India could also be one of them.
But our worries are more on the work by our closest neighbour Pakistan which uses the women power and social media to collect information. They also try to trap people in critical places like the Defence , , finance , and other strategic places. The use of women for such covert purposes is called as the ‘Honey Trap’.
It is really unfortunate that even after being so much popular and well publicized people get hooked to this technique and become victims.
Recently some high cases of Honey Trap victims were found in DRDO, Finance sector etc Another case which is in media is in Gujarat. Similarly a case of Honey trap was reported from Kochi, Bahraich, Rajasthan , Chandipur missile range officer, and of a BSF person. The list is getting long by the day and looks to be well crafted expertise of ISI, and China.
In the case of high profile scientist it is said that the The woman has also given email IDs and their password to upload the details and asked him to download apps made with malware, sources said, adding that these apps use all data of the downloaded phones and connected emails.
All these coming in a short span shows that the technique is vastly used by our main adversary China and Pakistan for the same. This shows the weakness of our people for getting honey trapped.
According to India TV reports, the female spies in Pakistan are trained at a specialized university in Rawalpindi, which is the headquarters of the Pakistani army. Physically attractive women are picked for this and are given specific training in honey trapping and extracting secrets. According to media reports, these spies are made to assume Hindu identities by creating fake online profiles through artificial intelligence. They use Facebook and WhatsApp to connect with Indian soldiers and are given training in ‘sexting’ and using their photos to extract defence secrets.
Basically Honey traps can happen on multiple accounts. Very recently, MI5 is worried about weakness towards sex. In a 14-page document distributed last year to hundreds of British banks, businesses, and financial institutions, titled “The Threat from Chinese Espionage,” the famed British security service described a wide-ranging Chinese effort to blackmail Western businesspeople over sexual relationships. The document, as the London Times reported in January, explicitly warns that Chinese intelligence services are trying to cultivate “long-term relationships” and have been known to “exploit vulnerabilities such as sexual relationships … to pressurise individuals to co-operate with them.”.
However most of the Honey Trap start with romance and love that touch the internal soft feelings of a person. Cleverness, training, character, and patriotism are often no defense against a well-set honey trap. And as in normal life, no planning can take into account that a romance begun in deceit might actually turn into a genuine, passionate affair. In fact, when an East German honey trap was exposed in 1997, one of the women involved refused to believe she had been deceived, even when presented with the evidence. “No, that’s not true,” she insisted. “He really loved me.”
Since 1980 Russia has been using the Honey trap technique extensively and has been sending girls and women to UNited States to collect information especially from academicians, Industrialists, businessmen and politicians. In a highly publicised case a Russian Honey trap was identified that infiltrated Republican party leaders through the National Rifle association.
Honey Traps are not New in Indian context but keep repeating
As early as 2018, Swarajya magazine has published a few cases on ISI pakistan led prominent Honey trap cases (https://swarajyamag.com/defence/honey-trap-money-how-isi-is-installing-an-army-of-agents-in-india). The same method was deployed in recent cases . It is said that Pakistan /Isi are more interested in the Brahmos missile and other missile systems developed by India. Since the project has Russian partnership, it is also said that America also has an interest in the Brahmos missile information.
The arrest of an Army jawan named Ganesh Prasad in 2018, posted in Pune, on a tip-off provided by Army Intelligence, on charges of spying for Pakistan, has brought to the fore the issue of honey-trapping by Pakistani intelligence agencies that are working overtime to corner India and are trying to get sensitive information about India’s security apparatus For the first time. Ever Since the last few years, Indian security agencies are working hard to crack different cases of luring by Pakistani and Chinese agencies. Sources tell, that the counter intelligence wing of various Indian security agencies are keeping many social media accounts belonging to Indian government employees, mostly the Army, under surveillance and also fake Pakistani accounts that are used to trap them. ( Sunday Guardian).
An official privy to the developments told The Sunday Guardian, “Every year, around 40,000 youths join the Indian Army, Navy or Air Force at the average age of 19 years. They are very young and don’t have any idea about the sensitivity of the job. They become vulnerable targets of the enemy which tries to trap them and extract sensitive information about the deployment and vital installations of the Indian security apparatus. It has been told that the Indian security agencies have identified about 100 accounts operated by the Pakistani and Chinese agencies and put their activities under intensive and extensive observation. Pakistani agencies get funds from their Chinese counterparts to provide sensitive information about Indian deployments and vital security installations.”
In a written reply to Indian Parliament in March 2018, the then Minister of State for Defence (MoS), Subhash Bhamre, said that between 2015 and 2018, five cases of honey-trapping had been detected by the security agencies and they had shortlisted 300 fake Facebook accounts that were being used to trap Indian Army and security personnel.
In this particular episode, the Army jawan of 2018, Ganesh was in touch with a Pakistan Navy doctor for two years. He was honey-trapped two years ago when he was posted in Jodhpur and agencies believe that he had passed many important pieces of information to her on the deployment of the Indian Army. Army Intelligence kept his social media accounts on Facebook and WhatsApp under constant surveillance before his arrest.
In 2019, Indian Army directed its personnel not to join any social media app like WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram as they could be used by the enemy agencies to honey-trap them and extract sensitive information which would harm national security.
How to avoid Honey Traps:
One of the recent Honey traps of a senior scientist , it was found that the person believed that he was having an actual affair and the lady , Zara Das GUpta who was the ISI agent was really in love with him. The lady had shown herself to be nationalist . This case is a typical example of present day ISI work. ISI is said to have profiled the scientist on the official website and was identified. Later work was done by Zara. Interesting the scientist had attended an awareness camp organised by his office on Honey trap but still fall into the trap.
Balakrishna Kamath, a retired IB officer and author of The Velvet Gloves and The Ace of Shadows, has shared his expertise on how to prevent honey traps and how the ISI selects its targets. He said that nowadays, ISI spies do not directly contact their target on social media. Instead, they first explore the target’s profile, connect with their common friends, and then approach the target through the common friend. As a result, the target may be approached by someone who is a mutual friend of one of their own friends.
He added that to avoid falling victim to honey traps, officials are typically advised to be cautious when interacting with strangers on social media platforms, particularly those who appear too good to be true. They are also warned not to share any sensitive information with anyone who they have not met in person and who they cannot verify as being who they claim to be. Also, officials are typically advised to maintain a strict separation between their personal and professional lives, particularly when it comes to social media. They are warned against posting sensitive information on social media platforms, as this information can be used by honey-trap operators to gain their trust and access to more sensitive information. He said, “Overall, honey traps remain a potent and effective tool for intelligence agencies around the world. While awareness campaigns can help officials recognise and avoid these tactics, there is no foolproof way to prevent them entirely. As such, officials must remain vigilant and cautious when interacting with strangers on social media platforms.”
Asked why some get honey-trapped despite being fully aware of the consequences, he said, “Basically, there are three vulnerabilities that the enemy try to exploit to get close to their targets—money, ideology and sex. Of these, the potential of sex is high because, to some it is an insatiable trait that ultimately overpowers them. There is also a belief that, while money and ideological orientation can easily leave a trail, sex remains, as an entirely personal activity where chances for exposure are limited. And then the urge for intimacy and sex prompts people to take a chance ‘just this time’. It is an entirely psychological phenomenon. Unlike in the olden days, social media make it easy to choose targets and approach them.
Wion has released a You tube post on how to avoid Honey Trapped, which can be a good basic awareness program.
Stealing strategic information is vital to any enemy nation and is also the easiest and succussful methodology to defeat any nation. Hence the usage of such method are pervasive and predominant. Honey trap involves delicate nurturing of the victim where he is first led to believe and then provide information. This involves sharing nude photos and also projection of love. These are the basic weaknesses of any man and more so in the Indian context as people here are more emotional.
Lack of professional judgement and lack of strong integrity leads a person to be victim of such cases. Many times showing off as a handsome and macho man also plays its part.
Such cases and methods have been well publicised , discussed and training being given to army personnel, but still it is observed that the trend continues with more gusto.
While astrologically we find that ne3xt few days can lead to more such cases being identified if the agencies work hard, the challenge is to control it for the long term.
For this deterrence in terms of punishment can be one action plan. HOwever deterrence alone will not be sufficient as most of the victims get led to it innocently and are blackmailed later on. Therefore a routine check / confession letter must be taken by the supervising agencies / ATS to identify weak candidates. If not full this will help in controlling the damage. A regular training camp for each personnel and also a confessional letter that tells about any activity that the person might be having should be part of the job.
Third, all personnel must be asked to be true to their family and well wishers. A reverse emotional appeal can also be helpful. NOt only family, it hurts national interest also.
All government offices must be vigilant on the content of websites and must not share information about vital officers, something they can learn from PM Modi. Officers must also be made to give a note on attending conferences and events. We have also found that many government officers’ official vehicles are being used for private purposes which should be banned.
Last but not least spiritual teaching is a must to avoid any such incidents. This might be a slow practice but can give results if army personnel are drawn more towards some sort of spiritual teachings where GITA can be taught which teaches a person to be true to his/her Dharma and nation.
Nothing else can be of help if this does not teach a person to be true to his nation.
Indian bollywood makes routine movies based on spying and Indian pak love /hate etc. Raazi was one such movie. Veer Zara was another. Bajrangi Bhaijan was also made by Salman Khan. While these pictures appeal to Indians at the emotional level Pakistan uses everything for its vested interest and anti India practices. The razzi movie reminds us of the present Pakistani woman who has come to India chasing her lover. Beware India is what we can say as Venus is in the nakshatra of Ketu. Deception is written in the skies.
Dr Asheesh Shah