A new, previously unmentioned group says it is responsible for kidnapping three Israeli teens on June 12.
Identifying itself as the Hezbollah Brigades, this is the third such group to say it abducted the boys while hitchhiking home from yeshiva in Gush Etzion on June 12.
If in fact the claim is authentic, this cell may be part of the larger global jihad group of the same name that operates in Syria and in Iraq.
The Israeli government continues to insist the Hamas terrorist organization that rules Gaza — and which in recent years has infiltrated Judea and Samaria — is responsible for the abduction.
The so-called Hezbollah Brigades, or “Kata’ib Hezbollah” is a Shi’ite milita group active in Iraq and Syria tied to, but not formally a part of the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terrorist organization.
According to U.S. military sources the group is linked to a cluster of special groups which receive funding, training, logistics and materiel from Iran’s Quds Force, despite official denials from the Iranian government. The Lebanon-based Hezbollah terrorist organization also is backed by Iran, as are the Islamic Jihad and Hamas terrorist organizations that operate in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
The U.S. State Department has also said in the past that the Kata’ib Hezbollah has received weapons and training from Lebanese Hezbollah. Both groups appear on the U.S. State Department List of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
A message from someone who claims to be a member of this group was posted Thursday on the Arabic-language Gaza-based Sahafa website, linked to Amad Press.
The message, printed in Arabic, was also made available in audio, read by a man.
However, the Hezbollah-controlled Al-Manar broadcast stations in Lebanon did not post anything on the new claim, nor were there any other reports about it in Lebanon media.
This raises questions as to whether in fact the group is truly connected with the kidnapping. Hezbollah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah has never been shy about claiming responsibility for terrorist attacks, nor has he ever hesitated to comment on the attacks of others associated with his organization.
Nevertheless, it is still possible the attack was carried out by the group. In past years there have been several international terror attacks carried out by Hezbollah cells that were not mentioned by Nasrallah; only later did the connection come to light.