The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) cleared for publication on Tuesday that it had arrested members of a well-organized network of Hezbollah recruits who had planned on executing major terror attacks in Israel.
“The Hezbollah organization has been vigorously trying to recruit operatives living in Israel and in Judea and Samaria,” a Shin Bet spokesperson said today. “These recruits are directed by Hezbollah to commit well-organized terror attacks against Israeli targets and to help recruit additional operatives.”
The Shin Bet discovered and arrested a five-person cell in the Palestinian town of Qalqilya that was tasked with executing attacks on IDF patrols in Samaria. The agency also located and arrested three Palestinians in Judea and Samaria recruited by a Hezbollah handler in Gaza to commit “lone-wolf” attacks, which would include shooting and detonating a suicide bomb on an Israeli bus.
“These arrests prevented the terrorist organization from executing deadly attacks inside Israel,” the Shin Bet spokesperson declared.
According to the Shin Bet, both the Qalqilya cell and the individual terrorists were recruited by Hezbollah’s Unit 133 through social media, primarily Facebook. The purpose of Unit 133 is to promote terror attacks in Israel, Egypt, and Jordan. Unit 133 has cells operating in Turkey, Eastern and Western Europe, and in Gaza.
The Qalqilya cell was comprised of Mustafa Hindi, Taher Nofal, Muhammad Daoud, Islam Abu Shoaib, and Baraa Hamed. The five were tasked by a Unit 133 operative, known only as Bilal, to carry out attacks on IDF patrols. To that end, prior to being arrested, the members of the cell began gathering intelligence on IDF movements in the area and conducted weapons and marksmanship training.
The terrorists recruited from Gaza were handled by Unit 133 operative Mohammed Abu Jadian, who also used Facebook to connect with the recruits. According to the Shin Bet, while Bilal created an organized cell of several recruits, Abu Jadian’s approach was to urge volunteers to commit “lone-wolf” attacks.
Abu Jadian’s recruits included Mamman Nashrati from the Palestinian city of Jenin who was supposed to carry out a shooting attack on Israelis, Osama Najem from Nablus who agreed to carry out a suicide bombing on an Israeli bus, and Mustafa Basharat from Jenin who was instructed to attack Israeli security forces.
In each of the cases, the radicalization and recruitment process was carried out through the Internet, with the initial contact made on Facebook. The Shin Bet announced further today that the same Unit 133 operatives also attempted to reach out to Israeli-Arab citizens, but that each of the attempts was intercepted by the Shin Bet and foiled well in advance
“We contacted all the Israeli citizens with whom Hezbollah had made contact and explained the situation. They all signed a legal document saying that they understand that the maintenance of any continued connection with Hezbollah, which is an outlawed terror organization, is a criminal offense,” the Shin Bet spokesperson explained.