Australian to plead guilty to aiding Hamas

47-year-old Ia’ad Rashid Abu Arja of Saudi origin confesses to charges of working in service of a banned organization.

Masked Hamas terrorist 311 R (photo credit: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters)
Masked Hamas terrorist 311 R
(photo credit: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters)
The defense and the state prosecution agreed to a plea bargain Sunday in the case of an Australian man charged in April this year with spying for Hamas against Israel.
In the Central District Court on Sunday, Ia’ad Rashid Abu Arja, 47, an Australian citizen of Saudi origin with no criminal record, confessed to charges of working in the service of a banned organization, as a result of contact he made with Hamas.
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Arja was arrested in April of this year, after trying to enter Israel at Ben-Gurion International Airport. His attorney said Sunday that Arja entered Israel with his wife on a pilgrimage to visit holy sites.
The prosecution on Sunday called the charges against Abu Arja “severe” and that the defendant “was recruited by the terrorist organization Hamas, which seeks to harm the State of Israel.”
The prosecution said that Abu Arja’s assistance to Hamas stretched over four years, and included attempting to attain equipment for the organization, including a panoramic camera and a tripod, and that they asked him to go to Israel to test his ability to enter the country.
They added that the case against Arja is based on his confession and also evidence taken from his personal computer and telephone. They also stipulated that he expressed deep remorse for his actions and only carried them out because he was forced to by Hamas.
The defense said that Arja, who has a background in computers, visited with Hamas operatives in his local mosque, and that they slowly and deliberately probed him for advice on technological issues such as how to encrypt the origin of phone calls.
The court ruled Sunday that a final decision on the plea bargain and Arja’s sentence will be made at a hearing scheduled for January 5. The defense has requested a sentence of 30 months, beginning at the moment of Arja’s arrest.