(Communicated by Israeli security sources)
Khaled Kashkoush, born in 1979, single, originally from the Israeli Arab town of Kalansua, has been residing in recent years in Germany, studying medicine in Gottingen, Germany. He was arrested on July 16, 2008 at Ben Gurion Airport upon his arrival in Israel in a joint operation of Israel Security Agency and the Israel Police National Serious and International Crime Unit, for alleged security offenses. Following his arrest, Kashkoush was transferred for questioning, during which he revealed his ties with Hizbullah.
Initial ties with Hizbullah
In 2002 Khaled met Dr. Hisham Hassan through a family relative. Dr. Hisham is Lebanese, residing in Germany and heads the branch of Orphaned Children Project Lebanon, belonging to Hizbullah and operating to raise funds for the Lebanese Martyr Institute, which was designated in Israel. Lebanese Martyr Institute assists Hizbullah civil infrastructure in Lebanon, including assistance to families of suicide bombers in Lebanon (see appendix below).
After a few meetings, Hisham suggested that Khaled establish business relationship with a Lebanese, called Rami, who, according to Hisham, would be able to assist Khaled. In December 2005, Khaled met Rami, who later identified himself as Mazen, in Erfurt, Germany. In their first meeting Khaled was asked to buy a "clean" cell phone and set the meetings by e-mail.
In their second meeting, in December 2006, in Erfurt, Germany, the Lebanese handler, aka Mazen, revealed that he is a Hizbullah member. Afterwards, the two met in April 2007 and January 2008 in Frankfurt, Germany. The handler, who identified himself as Rami and then Mazen, is known to security elements by the name of Mohamad Hashem, about 50, originally from Lebanon, an experienced Hizbullah senior handler. Mohamad Hashem frequently visits in various countries for meetings with Hizbullah agents to give instructions and money and receive information.
Activity of Khaled Kashkush for Hizbullah
As revealed during questioning, Khaled Kashkush was asked to provide the Hizbullah handler with information on Israel, including names of Israeli citizens studying abroad aiming to recruit them to Hizbullah. In addition, Khaled attempted to get a job at one of the hospitals in Israel in order to gather information on members of the security forces or soldiers hospitalized there. In one of the meetings Khaled held with the handler, the latter showed him the map of the town of Kalansua loaded off Google Earth, and asked him to locate on the map the addresses of local residents or public buildings.
It also became clear that due to his ties to Hizbullah, Khaled underwent a basic guidance on security conduct intended to prevent his exposure.
Khaled received 13,000 Euros for his Hizbullah activity.
When questioned about the ties of Hisham Hassan, with whom Khaled Kashkush began his activity, the activity of another Hizbullah agent was revealed - Ayman Kamel Shhade who was born in 1967 from Hebron. Ayman Shhade is known to the ISA for his association with Hizbullah.
Since the pullout of the IDF from southern Lebanon in May 2000 the Hizbullah increased its activity vis a vis Israeli citizens, wishing to establish an intelligence and operational infrastructure to gather valuable information about Israel and execute lethal attacks on its territory. The need of Hizbullah to gather valuable information increased following the Second Lebanon War.
This investigation is another proof that Hizbullah considers Israeli Arabs an attractive target for recruitment and handling. Hizbullah wishes to benefit from their citizenship status, with no problems of movement and access to various sites in Israel. This fact assists in gathering relevant information: strategic information, such as security sites and main traffic arteries, as well as tactical information, such as information about Israeli towns. Thus, as part of Hizbullah modus operandi, Hizbullah approaches Israeli Arabs staying abroad to recruit them.
Furthermore, the fact that Hizbullah has not yet been designated as a terrorist organization in Europe and hence is considered a legitimate organization, enables the organization to act undisturbed, to recruit and handle agents, using allegedly legitimate platforms, such as charity societies and organizations. Israeli security elements are concerned over Hizbullah activity in various European countries, including attempts to recruit Israeli citizens, as was indicated in this investigation.
Appendix - Orphaned Children Project Lebanon and the Lebanese Martyr Institute
Dr. Hisham Hasan who recruited Khaled Kashkoush and introduced him to a Hizbullah handler, is the head of Orphaned Children Project Lebanon in Germany (Waisenkinderprojekt Libanon e.V). This association supports the Lebanese Martyr Institute, which was designated in Israel due to its support of Hizbullah. Thus, for example, the Orphaned Children Project Lebanon website (www.wkplibanon.de) explicitly states that all funds raised for the orphans' adoption project are transferred directly to the bank account of the Lebanese Martyr's Institute.
The Martyrs Foundation (Bonjad Ashahid) is originally an Iranian organization, founded to assist family members of the Iran-Iraq war victims. The Lebanese Martyr's Institute was established according to the Iranian format.
The Lebanese Martyr's Institute is known to be an organization raising funds for Hizbullah to strengthen the organization in Lebanon. This institute is part of a wide network of institutions and charity societies founded by Hizbullah in Lebanon; it operates in various fields: welfare, economics, culture and communications. One of its goals is the dissemination of Hizbullah ideology amongst Lebanese population. With the aid of these institutions Hizbullah attained a widespread influence on the Shiite population in Lebanon and other places in the world.
In 2007 the US Department of Treasury designated the Iran-based Martyrs Foundation and all its branches in Lebanon and USA (Goodwill Charitable Organization) as organizations providing support for Hizbullah, since they finance its activity.