|Vol. 1 No. 9|| |
Senior Israeli intelligence sources believe that Hezbollah's military wing has stepped up efforts to recruit Europeans to carry out terrorist attacks against targets in Israel. Hezbollah "rightly believes that a European can move around in Israel more easily than an Arab," said the head of the Lebanon desk at Israeli military intelligence. "Police and security forces try to identify potential suspects by scrutinizing their appearance." The same source also said that the Shi'ite Lebanese guerrilla group may be planning to move its base of operations to Europe in the event it is forced to disarm in accordance with Syrian-Israeli peace negotiations.1
Hezbollah has rarely attempted to infiltrate Israel in the past, restricting its operations to the Israeli-occupied security zone in south Lebanon (and, on occasion, to volleys of Katyusha missiles fired across the border). However, the recent trial of Steven Smyrek, a British-educated German recruited by Hezbollah to photograph potential bombing targets in Israel, suggests that extremist elements within Hezbollah have already begun preparations to initiate a Hamas-style terrorist campaign in the future.
Smyrek, who had been jailed on drug charges three times while living in Britain, converted to Islam shortly after his release in 1994. In 1997, he was recruited by Hezbollah and traveled to Beirut, where he was blindfolded and confined for a few weeks until Hezbollah officials became convinced that his dedication to their cause was genuine. He was then transferred to a Hezbollah base near the Syrian-Lebanese border, where he received training in light weapons and explosives. He was given $4,000 and a camera and sent to photograph potential targets in Israel.
Smyrek confessed that this reconnaissance expedition was to be the first stage of a two-part mission. "The second stage should have been the suicide mission," he said. "Two days before leaving Lebanon I was asked to be filmed on video. At the Hezbollah people's request, I spoke in English about how I was going to be a shahid [a Muslim martyr], and that the Zionists are our enemies."
Smyrek, who had been monitored by the Mossad ever since his arrival in Lebanon, was taken into custody as soon as his plane touched down at Ben-Gurion airport.
1 "Hezbollah set to move base into Europe" The Sunday Times, 22 August 1999.