Thursday, August 14, 2008

Recruiting Israeli Arabs for Terror

P. David Hornik | 8/13/2008
Information has come to light about an Israeli Arab who was arrested last month at Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport after a return flight from Germany. Khaled Kashkoush, 29, comes from the village of Qalansuwa in central Israel and had been studying medicine for some years in Göttingen, Germany. His arrest was initially reported in Spiegel Online International.

Kashkoush has admitted during interrogation that while in Germany he was recruited by Hezbollah agents. In 2002 he made contact with Hisham Hassan, a Lebanese doctor who is also head of the German branch of the Orphaned Children Project Lebanon. That organization, in turn, raises funds for the Lebanese Martyr Institute—part of Hezbollah’s civilian network in Lebanon.

The Martyr Institute, which supports the families of Hezbollah terrorists killed during operations, spreads Khomeinist ideology both in Lebanon and abroad, and raises funds for Hezbollah, works similarly to the Iranian Shahid Foundation. In 2007 the U.S. Treasury Department declared the Shahid Foundation illegal and the FBI raided and closed its U.S. branch, known as the Goodwill Charitable Organization, in Dearborn, Michigan.

Kashkoush met every two weeks with Dr. Hassan and also helped him administer the Orphaned Children Project. After three years Dr. Hassan put Kashkoush in contact with a Lebanese called “Rami” who turned out to be the senior Hezbollah recruiter Muhammad Hashem, well known to Israeli security.

Hashem gave Kashkoush a total of 13,000 euros. In return Kashkoush was supposed to provide information about Israeli nationals studying abroad who might be potential Hezbollah recruits, and to try and find work in an Israeli hospital so he could gather information about security personnel or soldiers being treated there. At one of their meetings Hashem also gave Kashkoush a map of the latter’s home village, Qalansuwa, that had been downloaded from Google Earth and asked him to locate buildings there.

According to Spiegel Online International’s report, Kashkoush was aiming to get a job at Rambam Hospital in the Israeli city of Haifa before being nabbed at the airport. Kashkoush and his handler, Hashem, had apparently been in touch only via unregistered cellphone and email.

The case is deeply troubling to Israeli security because it fits into a pattern where Hezbollah and other terror organizations have been using Israeli Arabs as a pool for recruits. Although in the cases of three terror attacks by Israeli Arabs in Jerusalem this year no clear links to organizations seem yet to have been found, also this year two Israeli Arabs have been indicted for passing information on strategic sites to Al Qaeda and six more have been arrested for allegedly setting up an Al Qaeda-affiliated network and plotting to shoot down President Bush’s helicopter while he was visiting Israel.

Hezbollah, for its part, particularly exploits the fact that Israeli Arabs can easily be contacted and recruited while abroad, of which Kashkoush’s case is a classic instance. Israel, thus, gets the worst of all worlds: while frequently being slandered as an “apartheid state” it grants its Arab minority full freedoms that the global jihad movement, and a small but increasing number of Israeli Arabs themselves, exploit to Israel’s detriment.

And making life still harder for Israel is the fact that in Europe particularly, Hezbollah can operate freely because it’s not defined as a terrorist organization. Given that Hezbollah is responsible, among countless other acts, for blowing up the U.S. embassy in Lebanon in 1983, the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992, the AMIA Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires in 1994, and in 2006 for killing and kidnapping Israeli soldiers on Israeli territory while firing thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians, the fact that Europe does not classify it as terrorist may seem astonishing.

European countries claim to fear, though, that doing so would harm prospects for Middle East peace talks. European countries also, of course, have lucrative commercial ties with Hezbollah’s patron Iran.

In other words, the Israeli security services have their work cut out for them. In the case of Khaled Kashkoush they appear to have succeeded. Since—as in other Western countries—they’re the main or even only thing that stands between normal life and catastrophe, one hopes they’ll keep working very hard.

P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Tel Aviv. He blogs at He can be reached at

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