In September, Israeli security forces arrested a terror cell of seven Israeli Arabs from the northern town of Ghajar, on the border with Lebanon, who were allegedly planning to carry out mass casualty attacks on orders from Hezbollah. The incident was kept under gag order until Thursday, when indictments were filed against the men in a Northern District court in Nazareth. Six of them were charged with espionage, contact with a foreign agent, planning to and actually aiding an enemy during wartime, cross-border drug and arms smuggling, and other offenses linking them to Hezbollah.
According to the charges, three of the indictees are Diab, Jamil and Youssef Kahmuz. They are the sons of Saad Kahmuz, a known drug dealer who fled Israel to Lebanon in 2006. The others are their cousins, Muhsen Kahmuz and Madmouh Ibrahim, both 21, and their friend Adel Aweinat, 29. The seventh man, Maher Harbawi from the Druze village of Yarka, is suspected of selling drugs and smuggling night-vision equipment to Hezbollah in 2007, but did not take part in the cell’s terrorist activities.
In May, Jamil drove Diab and Youssef to the Israeli-Lebanese border fence near Ghajar to meet with Hezbollah’s operatives. The older brothers exchanged encrypted files with the Shiite group, and its operatives threw them a bag containing two improvised explosive devices and $5,000 over the fence. Diab subsequently hid the bombs in a grove near the northern Israeli town of Metula, bordering Lebanon, while waiting for orders regarding a target. According to Shin Bet, Diab was also due to take a second delivery of explosives in August.
After being instructed by his Hezbollah handlers to plant the bombs at important centers and major hitchhiking stops in Haifa, Diab and his brother Youssef toured the northern Israeli city to search for suitable sites. They failed to locate one, concerned that the best locations were monitored by security cameras. Instead, after another scouting mission with Youssef, Diab suggested placing the explosives at the Golani Junction in the lower Galilee, near the Israeli Arab town of Tur’an, which is a major gathering point for Israeli soldiers.
Diab surveyed the Junction and surrounding area, taking pictures and sending them to his handlers with his brother Jamil’s assistance. With Muhsen, he then returned to the grove in Metula to retrieve the explosives, but forgot where he had placed them. In late July, The bag containing the explosives was discovered by a farmer. Israel’s subsequent investigation determined that the explosives came from Hezbollah, leading to the arrest of the seven indictees, and three other suspects from the village of Ghajar.
The crew of six plotters was arrested over a 16-day span ending on Sept. 20. Though Youssef and Jamil had burned Diab’s computer, Israeli investigators were still able to recover images of possible attack sites sent to Hezbollah, including army bases as well as sensitive sites within Ghajar, from the smartphones and computers of the accused.
After uncovering a string of recent attempts by the Shiite organization to carry out attacks in Israel, Shin Bet commented that “Hezbollah has made it a top priority to spark terror acts, doing so from far away, while attempting not to make its involvement clear.” According to Israeli police, the explosives given to the Kahmuz brothers had the potential to be very destructive.
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