'Hezbollah agent gathered data on Israel flights'

Cyprus bomb plot suspect testifies that he was told to record landing times; NYT: Hezbollah paid Yaacoub $600 per month.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
February 22, 2013 09:18
2 minute read.
Lebanon's Hezbollah supporters gesture as they march in Beirut, November 2011

Hezbollah march, fighters 370. (photo credit: Reuters/Khalil Hassan)

 
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Hossam Taleb Yaacoub, one of the suspects in a thwarted terrorist attack against Israelis in Cyprus in July, said on Friday that he was sent to record the time of arrival of flights from Israel, Army Radio reported.

According to the report, Yaacoub testified in court on Thursday that he was told by his superiors to document the landing times of flights from Israel.

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The New York Times reported the Cyprus bomb-plot suspect was payed "$600 per month since 2010" by Hezbollah.

The Times quoted a written testimony read before the court where Yaacoub described acting as a courier for the group in Turkey, France and the Netherlands.

Providing a rare insight into the operations of the Lebanese militant group, Yaacoub said that if his handler wished to contact him, he would send a message "about the weather," The Times reported.

“I work for my party,” Yaacoub said. “Whenever they asked me to do something, I delivered,” The Times quoted his testimony as stating.

Yaacoub was also given the code name "Wael," The Times reported, quoting the bomb-plot suspect as saying that "in general, the party is based on secrecy between members. We don’t know the real names of our fellow members."



The bomb-plot suspect said that as a member of Hezbollah, he had the right to refuse to participate in terrorist operations, The Times reported. "If I was asked to participate in attacks, I had the right to refuse," he said.

On Thursday, President Shimon Peres called on the European Union to place Hezbollah on its list of terror organizations. Peres said it was time for every organization, particularly the EU, to list Hezbollah as a terrorist group.

“In Syria the president is slaughtering his own people and the children of his country,” Peres said, looking to the northeast. “Close by, in Lebanon, [Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah, wearing the robe of the religious, is pushing Lebanon toward war, even though Lebanon has no enemies.”

Yaacoub, a 24-year old Lebanese-Swedish citizen, faces eight charges in the criminal court in the city of Limassol. The Cypriot authorities charged him with membership in a criminal organization whose aim is “carrying out missions in any part of the world, including the Cyprus Republic, against Israeli citizens,” among seven other crimes – reduced from an original 17 terrorism-related charges.

The Cypriot prosecution began its cross-examination of Yaacoub on Thursday, and the case may run until March 7, with a verdict anticipated in mid-March.

Benjamin Weinthal and Greer Fay Cashman contributed to this report.

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