|Photo by: REUTERS/Sharif Karim|
J'lem man charged with spying for Hezbollah
By YONAH JEREMY BOB AND JERUSALEM POST STAFF
Shin Bet arrest 37-year-old man on suspicion of passing sensitive information to enemy terrorist organization.
The Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office charged a 37-year-old Arab resident of
Jerusalem on Sunday with spying for Hezbollah.
Essam Hashem Ali Mashahra
was arrested by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the police on October
According to the indictment, Mashahra left for Lebanon via Jordan on
June 20 with his wife. On June 22, Mashahra traveled through Beirut on his own
to make contact with Hezbollah.
The accused made contact with a Hezbollah
agent guarding a known Hezbollah cemetery and gave the agent his contact
information, said the indictment.
Later that night, Hezbollah agents
contacted him and told him to meet them at a designated spot, according to the
indictment. It alleged that from there he was driven blindfolded to meet with a
Hezbollah commander who asked him to identify various buildings and areas in
Israel, of which he was shown satellite photographs.
At a second meeting
soon after, the indictment said that the accused met again with the commander as
well as with a technician. The latter showed the accused various ways to
clandestinely communicate with Hezbollah upon his return to
According to the indictment, he was shown how to use both
Facebook and email to send Hezbollah messages.
In addition, Mashahra also
allegedly used an encrypted CD, disguised as a children’s computer game, to pass
The Hezbollah handlers also gave Mashahra $1,500 to buy a
laptop computer for communications purposes, the indictment said. The accused
bought a new laptop and opened a new Facebook account according to his handlers’
instructions in July, said the indictment.
During the course of his
activities, a Shin Bet statement said, Mashahra allegedly provided information
on a “long list of sites in Israel,” including the Knesset, the government
complex, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Hadassah University Medical Center
in both Ein Kerem and Mount Scopus, and the residences of Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
The Shin Bet
statement said that Mashahra admitted to the acts during the course of the
inquiry. Further, the Shin Bet statement noted that his arrest is evidence of a
greater trend of Hezbollah focusing on recruiting Israeli Arabs and Arab
residents of Israel instead of Palestinians from the West Bank, as the former
have superior knowledge of Israeli society and easier access to performing
reconnaissance within the Green Line.
Mashahra was charged Sunday at the
Jerusalem District Court with having contact with a foreign agent, passing
information to the enemy, conspiracy to deliver information to the enemy, and
traveling to an enemy country without permission.