J'lem man charged with spying for Hezbollah

Shin Bet arrest 37-year-old man on suspicion of passing sensitive information to enemy terrorist organization.

Hezbollah, Lebanon flags near Beirut airport 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Sharif Karim)
Hezbollah, Lebanon flags near Beirut airport 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Sharif Karim)
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 24.
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 Israel.
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 information.
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.