|Larnaca International Airport is a popular|
Arkia Israel Airlines destination in Cyprus;
interesting to Hezbollah as well
Jerusalem Post's European correspondent Benjamin Weinthal filed this report about 90 minutes ago:
Cyprus criminal court convicts Hezbollah member | BERLIN- A criminal court on Thursday in the city of Limassol convicted Hossam Taleb Yaacoub of membership in a criminal organization. The dual Swedish-Lebanese citizen admitted last month that he was a membership of Hezbollah and engaged in surveillance of Israeli tourists. His conviction is the first time that a Hezbollah member has been found guilty of criminal activity with respect to the targeting of Israeli citizens in a European court... Cyprus reduced the charges against Yaacoub from terrorism charges to criminal charges last year... The court is slated to sentence him on March 28. Hezbollah is not listed a terror organization within the EU. Yaacoub admitted that Hezbollah's job was to observes Jews across the globe and he watched Israeli flights land in Cyprus. A few weeks after his activities, two alleged Hezbollah operatives engaged in similar activity and participated in the bombing of an Israeli tour bus in the Black Sea resort of Burgas.A UPI report a month ago noted that his trial received
little public attention, but a conviction could put pressure on the European Union to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization... Yaacoub admitted he scouted locations Israelis would patronize, in the service of the militant group Hezbollah [but] that he had not taken part in plots to target Israeli tourists visiting Cyprus... "I'm only trained to defend Lebanon," he said... Yaacoub admitted in court he had been a Hezbollah member since 2007... [UPI]
Though he described himself as "an active member of Hezbollah," Yaacoub didn't even know the faces of the men he reported to. "In general, the party is based on secrecy between members," he told the Cyprus court. "We don't know the real names of our fellow members."
If that's a drawback, there are at least a few advantages to doing the bidding of would-be terrorists. Yaacoub said that he was paid $600 a month since 2010 for doing relatively simple tasks, like carrying discrete packages between European cities, taking trips to exotic locales like Dubai or recording the activities of buses that carry Israeli tourists. (The latter assignment is of particular interest to the court.) Yaacoub said that he was also asked to buy SIM cards discretely so that he and his fellow operatives could communicate with their Hezbollah bosses and to record arrival times of flights from Israel. In case anything went wrong along the way, Hezbollah had trained Yaacoub how to use RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenades, the PK machine gun and the AK-47.
Regardless of the motives of all these other activities, the young operative maintained that he didn't actually have to commit any acts of violence. "If I was asked to participate in attacks, I had the right to refuse." Not that he necessarily would. "I work for my party," Yaacoub added. "Whenever they asked me to do something, I delivered."