Israeli security service foils Hizballah kidnap of 5 Israelis in W. Africa
debkafile‘s counter-terror sources report that Israel’s security services have set up frontline networks at vulnerable locations to thwart Hizballah’s worldwide conspiracy to abduct Israelis and Jews. The pro-Iranian group is targeting Israeli businessmen, diplomats and tourists as well as prominent Jewish figures in West Africa and South America. It enjoys the support and largesse of large, affluent Lebanese Shiite communities dotted around those continents.
Hizballah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah has sworn to avenge the death of its former military chief Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus, for which he blames Israel.
Our sources report that potential targets among Israeli businessmen have been cautioned of their danger. But some continue to maintain extensive commercial and financial ties with the prominent local Shiites who are Hizballah’s benefactors.
The hazard has become more acute since Hizballah began planting agents trained in abduction techniques in some of the security details guarding these Shiite tycoons and their families. They are in position to keep track of their Israeli contacts and refer the information to the special Hizballah branch for abduction operations working alongside Nasrallah Beirut.
The number of Israelis and Jews in jeopardy is counted in dozens. In five cases of late, the special Mossad outfit was able to foil active Hizballah plots to kidnap Israeli businessmen based in West Africa.
debkafile‘s sources report that Israeli intelligence leaders were divided over whether or not to go public on these cases. The pro-publication advocates argued it would be a good thing for Hizballah to take into account that the Mossad was closely watching its operations in Africa and Latin America, and had structures in place for protecting likely victims, uncovering kidnap plots and identifying their prime movers.
Hizballah would be given to understand that the formidable Mossad was on its tail everywhere.
The counter-argument was that giving out information would alert Hizballah and give local Shiite business leaders a chance to invoke their influential connections in government and put a stop to Israel’s covert activities.
The entire counter-abduction enterprise would be blown out of the water.
The kidnap of Israeli businessman Ehud Avni in Nigeria this week forced the hand of the pro-secrecy camp. At first, security officials suspected the hand of Hizballah. He was later released against a hefty ransom. It was therefore decided to partially lift the veil of secrecy over the operation without offering details or naming locations.