The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) uncovered a Hezbollah terrorist cell operating in northern Israel, the intelligence agency revealed Thursday. Six suspects were arrested last month on suspicion of smuggling explosives that had been discovered south of Metulla on July 30, in a joint operation of the ISA, Israel Police and IDF.
All members of the cell, residents of the border town of Ghajar, were taken into custody for planning to carry out major terror attacks in Israel, according to a statement by the intelligence agency.
In recent years, security services have dealt with several cases in which links were discovered between routes for smuggling drugs from Lebanon into Israel, and routes for the infiltration of war materiel.
For example, in 2012, 20 kilograms of C4 explosive material were discovered, leading to a wave of arrests of Israeli Arabs from the Nazareth area and of several residents of Ghajar for involvement in the affair. Drugs trafficking in southern Lebanon is controlled and managed by Hezbollah, which maintains a constant effort to also smuggle war materiel along the drug smuggling routes, with the involvement of Israeli drugs traffickers.
In this case, the attempt was foiled and all those involved were arrested. From the investigation of the detainees as well as from information gathered about the operation, it was learned that several activists from Ghajar, led by Diab Sa’ad Jamil Kahamuz, were in contact with Hezbollah operatives.
At the behest of Hezbollah operatives, the detainees carried out smuggling into Israel over the Lebanese border fence as well as additional intelligence-gathering activity deeper inside Israel.
The Northern District State Attorney’s Office filed detailed indictments on Thursday (October 6, 2016), against all those involved in the case. Diab Kahamuz was arrested on September 4, 2016. During his investigation, it was learned he was in contact this year with his father, Sa’ad Kahamuz, a drug trafficker from Ghajar known for helping Hezbollah, and who fled to Lebanon in October 2006.
The central nature of the elder Kahamuz in the affair stems from his being an intermediary between Hezbollah operatives and his family in Ghajar, headed by his son Diab. Sa’ad Kahamuz liaised between Diab and Hezbollah operatives; communication was by means of – inter alia – encrypted emails. In May 2016, Diab received two explosive charges from Hezbollah, which he hid in an orchard south of Metula. As noted above, these charges were discovered on 30 July 2016. Diab was asked by Hezbollah to carry out an attack at a site – to be chosen by him – in Haifa. Diab also considered the possibility of carrying out an attack at a factory in Nesher, and recruited his brothers Yusuf and Jamil, planning to use the latter in carrying out the attack.
Diab agreed to carry out the attack; however, Hezbollah provided him with an alternative site – the bus stop at the entrance to the village of Tur’an, which is frequented by many soldiers, especially on Sundays. Diab collected intelligence about the site and conveyed the information to Hezbollah.
In August 2016 Diab was to have carried out an additional smuggling operation at the behest of his Hezbollah handlers. During his investigation, it was learned that additional parties were involved in his activities, namely his brothers Yusuf Sa’ad Jamil Kahamuz and Jamil Sa’ad Jamil Kahamuz.
The following residents of Ghajar were also arrested last month on suspicion of involvement in Diab’s activities with Hezbollah:
* Adal Ahmed Hassan Ayunat was arrested on September 4. During his investigation it was learned that he had been aware of Diab Kahamuz’s contacts with Hezbollah and that he had accepted an offer from him to assist him in his contacts and vis-à-vis drug smuggling. It was also learned that in 2007, he had smuggled night vision equipment to Hezbollah operatives.
* Mohssan Muhammad Jamil Kahamuz was arrested on September 4. He assisted Diab Kahamuz – inter alia – in purchasing a computer for contacting Hezbollah and in passing messages to Hezbollah via encrypted email. He also helped him to twice look for the bag with the explosives that had been hidden in the orchard near Metula in July 2016. He was also involved in drug smuggling along with Diab Kahamuz and others.
* Mandouh Karim Munif Ibrahim was arrested on September 12. During his investigation it was learned that he had assisted Diab Kahamuz – on several occasions – in passing messages to Hezbollah via encrypted email. He was also involved in drug smuggling along with Diab Kahamuz and others.
* Yusuf Sa’ad Jamil Kahamuz was arrested on September 18. During his investigation it was learned that he was fully cognizant of his brother Diab’s contacts with Hezbollah and had assisted him in carrying out activities at the behest of the organization. For example, he went with him to gather information about the Tur’an bus stop, had gone out of Ghajar with him in order to send and receive encrypted messages to/from Hezbollah, and had assisted him in receiving the explosives from Hezbollah. After Diab’s arrest, Yusuf burned the two computers that Diab had used for contacts with Hezbollah.
* Jamil Sa’ad Jamil Kahamuz was arrested on September 20. It was learned that he had acted as Diab’s main assistant regarding his Hezbollah activities and had been fully cognizant of them. It was also learned that he had assisted Diab on several occasions in passing information to Hezbollah, including photographs and video clips taken at Tur’an junction. On several occasions he also drove Diab to the smuggling points, including in May 2016 to collect the explosives. He also helped his brother Yusuf to destroy the computers to prevent them from being seized by the security forces.
Hana Levi Julian