Al Jazeera's bureau chief in Afghanistan, Samer Allawi, was released from an Israeli prison Sunday night after reaching a plea bargain under which he confessed to serving as a Hamas operative.
Allawi reached a deal with the Israel State Prosecutor’s Office under which he will receive a suspended sentence of three years, after he confessed to serving as a Hamas operative and working on behalf of the terrorist organization, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) released in a statement.
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Award-winning Palestinian journalist forced into
Allawi, a Palestinian, was arrested in August
at the Allenby Bridge border crossing between the West Bank and Jordan.
He said he was recruited into Hamas in 1993 and served until 2004 on a senior committee that oversees Hamas operations abroad and is responsible for fundraising.
In 2001 and 2003 Allawi traveled to Syria where he met with Mousa Abu
Marzook, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal’s deputy and reported on his
activities, the Shin Bet said. Abu Marzook offered Allawi to serve as
Hamas’s official representative in Iran, but he rejected the offer.
The Shin Bet said that Allawi met with a senior Hamas operative in Dubai
in 2000 and expressed his readiness to participate in military
operations if asked by Hamas. He also offered to use his job as a
reporter for Al Jazeera to promote Hamas interests.
In 2006, Allawi traveled to Qatar and met with additional Al Jazeera
reporters, who the Shin Bet said were also Hamas operatives and
discussed the possibility of using their positions to advance Hamas by
criticizing the US military in Afghanistan.
During his interrogation, the Shin Bet said he also discussed his
activities as a member of the mujahideen in Afghanistan from 1988 to
1992, during which he confessed to participating in a rebel raid on an
Afghan military base as well as guerrilla operations against Soviet
Allawi rejected the charges against him. “There was no evidence against
me," Allawi told Reuters upon returning to the West Bank. "The whole
arrest episode was a charade aimed at extorting Al Jazeera. I was not
He met with Hamas, Allawi said, because "I meet people everywhere from whom I can get the news."