Real Passports, Fake Drivers' Licenses - How Hizbullah Slowly Infiltrated Europe

(Le Temps-Switzerland) Alexandre Levy - On March 28, a Cyprus court condemned a Swedish-Lebanese man, Hossam Taleb Yaacoub, 24, to four years in prison for helping plan attacks against Israelis. The Hizbullah member was a scout, tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of Israeli tourists on the island, in order to organize a terrorist attack. Cyprus police said he was particularly meticulous, taking notes on flight schedules, bus license plates, the numbers of security guards, hotels, and kosher restaurants. "Taking advantage of the leniency of some European capitals, Hizbullah has strengthened its network in Europe, recruiting and positioning agents all across the continent. Bi-nationals with ties with Lebanon have the ideal profile," says Matthew Levitt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. It was the same for the men who operated in Bulgaria: one was Canadian, the other Australian. Both had entered the country legally and rented cars and booked hotel rooms with fake U.S. drivers' licenses. "The documents were made by a forger in Lebanon, known by our colleagues from Western intelligence services," explained Bulgaria's organized crime czar, Stanimir Florov. Money transfers from Lebanon, as well as a photo on which relatives of one of the terrorists posed with high-ranking Hizbullah militants, convinced Bulgarian officials that all the tracks lead back to Beirut. Counter-terrorism experts also noted a "professionalization" of Hizbullah agents abroad. They used fake IDs, spoke foreign languages, used coded communications, and maintained secrecy between members, explained a European police official.

2013-04-11 00:00:00

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