The Israeli tourists on Arkia Airlines Flight 161 from Tel Aviv could not have known it, but their arrival in Cyprus July 6 was watched closely. A pair of trained eyes counted each passenger as the group exited the plane and boarded a shuttle, headed for resorts that had also been carefully studied and mapped.The description is of Hossam Yaakoub, the Lebanese-born Swedish citizen who was arrested on July 7 2012 -- just 11 before the terrorist bus bombing in Bulgaria by Hezbollah.
The bearded foreigner who silently tracked the Israelis had done his work well. He knew where the visitors would sleep, shop and eat. He knew how many security guards patrolled their hotel parking lots and how long it would take police to arrive from the station down the street.
But the watcher was being watched. When Cypriot police picked him up, the Hezbollah operative quickly acknowledged what he was doing, although he claimed not to know why.
“I was just collecting information about the Jews,” he told police, according to a sworn deposition. “This is what my organization is doing, everywhere in the world.”
Now, following statements made by Yaakoub at his trial and information obtained from legal documents that summarize statements made by Yaakoub, a picture of the broader goals and tactics of the Hezbollah terrorist group has been emerging:
The evidence echoes discoveries by investigators in Bulgaria and prosecutors in Thailand, India, Azerbaijan, Kenya and other countries hit by a wave of attempted assassinations and bombings linked to Hezbollah or its chief sponsor, Iran. U.S. officials characterize the plots as part of a shadow war directed by Iran in part to retaliate for Western efforts to derail Iran’s nuclear program. Evidence uncovered by investigators portrays a professional, well-funded effort by Hezbollah to recruit, train and position European-based operatives for what U.S. analysts describe as preparations for future terrorist operations.Hezbollah is not only learning from its mistakes -- the terrorist group is becoming more desperate.
While most of the attacks were thwarted or failed, the accumulated intelligence shows that Hezbollah is learning from its mistakes, employing the tactics of professional intelligence operatives to cover its tracks and expanding its threat, according to current and former U.S. officials, most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing nature of the inquiries.
US counterterrorism officials say that Hezbollah has expanded its terrorist attacks over the last 2 years in response to the tougher sanctions against their patrons in Iran. Some attacks have been linked directly to Iran itself, as in the failed attempt, funded by Iran in 2011, to murder the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington by blowing up a restaurant in Georgetown using hitman from a Mexican drug gang.
But responding to sanctions have not been the sole motive for terrorist attacks:
Other targets have ranged from Jewish schoolteachers to U.S. diplomats. When arrests have been made, authorities have found evidence linking the suspects either to Hezbollah or Iran’s Quds Force, an elite unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Western analysts have suggested a variety of motives for the attempts, ranging from intimidating Iran’s Gulf Arab rivals to exacting revenge for the assassinations of four Iranian nuclear scientists since 2010, which Iran has attributed to Israel’s Mossad intelligence service.Hezbollah meanwhile has found itself to be the target of attacks.
HonestReporting notes Hezbollah's Headaches in its Israel Daily News Stream 02/27/2013, in addition to the revelations from Hossam Yaakoub's trial:
Syrian rebels said they injured or killed Hezbollah’s number two man in an attack on a Syrian convoy on the outskirts of Damascus.But with all of this going on, the EU has its focus firmly fixed on the most explosive danger rocking the world: building being done inside Israeli settlements.
The reports say Sheikh Naim Qassem, who is Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah’s deputy, was returning to Lebanon after a high-level meeting with Syrian officials.
Hezbollah’s official line is that its people fighting in Syria went on their own; Qassem’s way too big a fish to rendezvous with such Syrians on his own personal initiative. Nasrallah’s got some ‘splaining to do.
At a time that there are doubts that the EU will be willing to declare Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization, even with the the Bulgarian investigation finding Hezbollah responsible for the terrorist attack on an Israeli bus and the revelations about Hezbollah's targets based on the Yaakoub trial -- Haaretz is reporting EU consuls recommend imposing sanctions on Israeli settlements.
Europe is in good hands.
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