An Israeli organizer of pilgrimages to Mecca for the Haj says he never knew the men he met were operatives of the Shiite terror organization.
By Ahiya Raved
A 45-year-old resident of Shfaram, a predominantly Arab-populated city in northern Israel, was indicted Sunday at the Haifa Magistrate’s Court on a series of security-related charges including contact with a foreign agent, handover of potentially valuable information to the enemy and aiding an unlawful association.
According to the indictment, Zaher Omar Yusefin traveled to Saudi Arabia for the Haj when he allegedly met members of Hezbollah and Palestinian groups, helped them hold meetings with Israeli youth who also arrived at the country and gave information on IDF bases in northern Israel.
The meetings took place in 2007, when Yusefin met a man whose name the indictment gives as Abu Ismail, who Yusefin allegedly knew was a Hezbollah operative, yet kept seeing him. Another operative of the Shiite militant group present at the meetings is named as Khaled. According to the indictment, Yusefin, an organizer of religious pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia for Israeli Arabs, gave the details of the pilgrims’ stay to his Hezbollah associates for the purposes of recruitment.
Yusefin also allegedly supplied Abu Ismail with information regarding the exact locations of landings of Hezbollah missiles within Israel during the Second Lebanon War, and the coordinates of IDF bases near Rosh Hanikra and between Akko and Haifa, knowing this information was of value to Israel’s enemy.
According to the indictment, Abu Ismail asked Yusefin to take photos of the bases, yet Yusefin did not comply.
The investigation into the matter was launched by Shin Bet about a month ago.
The defendant’s attorney said all his client was guilty of was holding two dinners five years ago. “As an organizer of tours he meets all sorts of people, he had no idea they were affiliated to Hezbollah. This is a case of a mountain giving birth to a mouse: there were four detainees who all participated in the same dinners, yet only my client remained in custody.”
Justice Ron Shapira remanded Yusefin until Thursday, when the case will be reviewed once more. The judge also lifted the gag order heretofore placed on the case.
View original Ynet publication at: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4387204,00.html