Israeli soldiers and trucks are seen from southern Lebanon, as a Hezbollah flag flutters..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hezbollah is trying a former senior official for treason, including a charge of revealing to Israel details of the Shi’ite group’s responsibility for a 2012 bus bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria, a Lebanese newspaper reported last week, citing a security source.
Hezbollah arrested the alleged Mossad spy, Mohammad Shawraba 42, the former head of the party’s external operations unit, along with four other members of his team about a month ago, The Daily Star said.
They are being tried in a Hezbollah court, according to the source.
The arrest followed six to seven months of investigation and five failed attempted attacks against Israeli targets meant to avenge the alleged Israeli assassination of commander, Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus in 2008.
Hezbollah became suspicious when the Bulgarian Interior Ministry accused it of being behind the 2012 bus bombing in Burgas that killed five Israeli tourists and the bus driver, said the source, who added that Shawraba leaked information to Israel, which then forwarded it to Bulgarian authorities, who had released pictures of the two Hezbollah members suspected of the bombing.
The Arab media broke the story last week.
The alleged spy had frustrated attacks against Israel and held a number of important positions, including supervising the personal security of the organization’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, according to Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai.
Sources told the Kuwaiti newspaper that Shawraba was a resident of a village in south Lebanon, coming from a family that includes religious figures known for their loyalty to Hezbollah, adding that his arrest would not hurt his family, which “cannot be blamed for his deeds.”
Shawraba reportedly had advanced in Hezbollah until he became responsible for Nasrallah’s personal security with an emphasis on surveillance.
After the spy was discovered, Hezbollah was quick to discharge the unit’s fighters and spread them around to other units. The commander was similarly discharged after the spy reported his activities to US and Israeli intelligence, Al-Rai reported.
The alleged Mossad member held an important position in Hezbollah’s Unit 910, which carries out operations against specific Israeli targets, according to a report that broke the story on Tuesday on the Lebanese website El Nashra.
According to sources quoted by El Nashra, the Mossad spy worked undercover as a businessman and traveled a great deal. The Mossad allegedly recruited him in a western Asian country.
The double agent also supposedly exposed information about operatives working abroad, leading to the arrest of Hezbollah agent Muhammad Amadar in Lima, Peru, in October.
According to a report by the Al-Janoubia website on Tuesday and reported by the Lebanese NOW website, the espionage involved more than one person – a cell – that was “the most serious [intelligence] breach in Hezbollah’s history.” The alleged spy held the position of deputy chief of Unit 910, the report said.
Quoting sources close to Hezbollah, the report added that, under questioning, it was revealed that Mossad made periodic payments totaling $1 million.
The recurring failures of Unit 910 “caused a state of frustration in the party’s ranks” and led to the creation of a separate secret unit run by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Al-Janoubia reported.
“After close monitoring of the most important security officials, the unit arrested five Hezbollah members including the [Unit 910 deputy chief],” the sources said.
Yasser Okbi/Maariv Hashavua contributed to this report.