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Magda Hassan
02-19-2009, 08:15 AM
Palestine Backer or Israeli Spy? Lebanese in Shock Over Arrest



By ROBERT F. WORTH (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/w/robert_f_worth/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
Published: February 18, 2009
MARAJ, Lebanon (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/lebanon/index.html?inline=nyt-geo) — For 25 years, Ali al-Jarrah managed to live on both sides of the bitterest divide running through this region. To friends and neighbors, he was an earnest supporter of the Palestinian (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/p/palestinians/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier) cause, an affable, white-haired family man who worked as an administrator at a nearby school.
Skip to next paragraph (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/19/world/middleeast/19lebanon.html?hp#secondParagraph) http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2009/02/18/world/19spy-190.jpg Ali al-Jarrah



To Israel (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/israel/index.html?inline=nyt-geo), he appears to have been a valued spy, sending reports and taking clandestine photographs of Palestinian groups and Hezbollah (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/h/hezbollah/index.html?inline=nyt-org) since 1983.
Now he sits in a Lebanese prison cell, accused by the authorities of betraying his country to an enemy state. Months after his arrest, his friends and former colleagues are still in shock over the extent of his deceptions: the carefully disguised trips abroad, the unexplained cash, the secret second wife.
Lebanese investigators say he has confessed to a career of espionage spectacular in its scope and longevity, a real-life John le Carré (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/l/john_le_carre/index.html?inline=nyt-per) novel. Many intelligence agents are said to operate in the civil chaos of Lebanon, but Mr. Jarrah’s arrest has shed a rare light onto a world of spying and subversion that usually persists in secret.
Mr. Jarrah’s first wife maintains that he was tortured, and is innocent; requests to interview him were denied.
From his home in this Bekaa Valley village, Mr. Jarrah, 50, traveled often to Syria and to south Lebanon, where he photographed roads and convoys that might have been used to transport weapons to Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group, investigators say. He spoke with his handlers by satellite phone, receiving “dead drops” of money, cameras and listening devices. Occasionally, on the pretext of a business trip, he traveled to Belgium and Italy, received an Israeli passport, and flew to Israel, where he was debriefed at length, investigators say.
At the start of the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, Israeli officials called Mr. Jarrah to reassure him that his village would be spared and that he should stay at home, investigators said.
He was finally arrested last July by Hezbollah, which now has perhaps the most powerful intelligence apparatus in this country. It handed him to the Lebanese military — along with his brother Yusuf, who is accused of helping him spy — and he awaits trial by a military court.
Several current and former military officials agreed to provide details about his case on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss it before the trial began. Their accounts tallied with details provided by Mr. Jarrah’s relatives and former colleagues.
It is not the family’s first brush with notoriety. One of Mr. Jarrah’s cousins, Ziad al-Jarrah, was among the 19 hijackers who carried out the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, though the men were 20 years apart in age and do not appear to have known each other well.
Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/o/ehud_olmert/index.html?inline=nyt-per), declined to discuss Mr. Jarrah’s situation, saying, “It is not our practice to publicly talk about any such allegations in this case or in any case.”
Villagers here seemed incredulous that a man they knew all their lives could have taken money to spy for a country that they regard with unmixed hatred and disgust.
Many maintained his innocence. But Raja Mosleh, the Palestinian doctor who was his partner for years in a school and health clinic near here, did not.
“I never suspected him before,” Dr. Mosleh said. “But now, after linking all the incidents together, I feel he’s 100 percent guilty.”
“He used to talk about the Palestinian cause all the time, how he supported the cause, he supported the people, he liked everybody — this son of a dog,” Dr. Mosleh added, his voice thick with contempt.
Mr. Jarrah would often borrow money to buy cigarettes, apparently posing as a man of limited means. Investigators say he received more than $300,000 for his work from Israel.
Only recently did he begin to spend in ways that raised questions. About six years ago, neighbors said, he built a three-story villa with a terra-cotta roof that is by far the grandest house in this modest village of low concrete dwellings. Outside is a small roofed archway and a heavy iron gate, and on a recent day a German shepherd stood guard.
Dr. Mosleh asked him where he got the money, and Mr. Jarrah said he got help from a daughter living in Brazil. It is a natural excuse in Lebanon, where a large portion of the population receives remittances from relatives abroad.
Mr. Jarrah also had a secret second wife, according to investigators and his former colleagues. Unlike his first wife, Maryam Shmouri al-Jarrah, who lived in relative grandeur with their five children in Maraj, the second wife lived in a cheap apartment in the town of Masnaa, near the Syrian border. This apparently allowed Mr. Jarrah to travel near the border in the unremarkable guise of a local working-class man.
Mr. Jarrah has said he was recruited in 1983 — a year after Israel began a major invasion of Lebanon — by Israeli officers who had imprisoned him, according to investigators. He was offered regular payments in exchange for information about Palestinian militants and Syrian troop movements, they said.
After Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, thousands of Lebanese from the occupied zone in the south were tried and sentenced — mostly to light prison terms — for collaborating with Israel.
Far from the border, a different class of collaborators, rooted in their communities, persisted. A few have been caught and sentenced.
Mr. Jarrah’s motives remain a mystery. He said he tried to stop, but the Israelis would not let him, investigators said.
It all came to an end last summer. He went on a trip to Syria in July, and when he returned he said he had been briefly detained by the Syrian police, his first wife said. He seemed very uneasy, not his usual self, she said.
He left the house that night, saying he was going to Beirut, and never returned, Mrs. Jarrah said. Only three months later did she get a call from the Lebanese Army saying it had taken custody of him.
A few weeks ago, Mrs. Jarrah said, she was allowed to see him. He looked terrible, exhausted, she said.
Lebanese security forces released a photograph of Mr. Jarrah, taken before his arrest. In it, he appears against a blue and white backdrop, dressed in a formal dark shirt, wearing an enigmatic smile.
Hwaida Saad contributed reporting from Beirut, Lebanon, and Ethan Bronner from Jerusalem.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/19/world/middleeast/19lebanon.html?hp

Mark Stapleton
02-19-2009, 10:58 PM
Whoa! This is huge, and you won't hear about it in the western media of course.

The part about al-Jarrah's cousin being a 9/11 hijacker is fascinating. Hopefully the trial may shed some more light on this. The plot continues to sicken.

Hezbollah must be wondering how many more Ali al-Jarrah's are embedded within Lebanese society.

Magda Hassan
02-19-2009, 11:13 PM
Yes Mark. I found it most interesting. The article is not putting too much stress on it. In the west it is true that people may not even know their cousins but it is quite different in other cultures. Any one who knows the family structures of that area knows that cousins are an integral part of any family. A huge amount of Lebanese marriages are between cousins which has lead to certain inherited genetic problems. It is very commonplace. It would be extremely unusual not to know your cousins well.

You have to wonder at what may have happened. Who knew what and when? Was there encouragement or discouragement? Was it his cousin idea or was it suggested to him by some one else? And who is that? Who was feeding who information? Did Israel know about his cousins and his plans? Did they help him with them? Did they warn others or try to stop it? Or did they just let it happen?

There is not enough information to know for sure any of this yet but it sure makes me wonder. I predict a short life for this man.

Mark Stapleton
02-19-2009, 11:52 PM
I think your prediction is on the money, Magda.

al-Jarrah might just feel enough guilt and shame to make him start singing like a canary and if that includes everything he knows about 9/11, then Israel will be determined to have him silenced.

I agree there's many dots to be joined re 9/11, but I detect the foul stench of Israel's opaque presence.

Peter Lemkin
02-20-2009, 08:38 AM
"It is not the family’s first brush with notoriety. One of Mr. Jarrah’s cousins, Ziad al-Jarrah, was among the 19 hijackers who carried out the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, though the men were 20 years apart in age and do not appear to have known each other well."

Wow! What are the odds of that!.....sort of like the thread on the EF that the Thresher sub that sank just before JFK died had on it an officer close to George deM!...again what are the chances of that! But this is closer. I'm not so involved in whether or not they knew each other well. I'm not even sure if those 19 were on the planes - maybe some, maybe not...but to have been involved and now the cousin a spy for Israel and/or who else? against the evil Muslims - yeah, huge. Expect to hear nothing about it. Someone send it to the History Commons timeline on 9-11.

David Guyatt
02-20-2009, 11:25 AM
Heck Peter, the Thresher sank through a freak accident. We all know that. :hello:

The impression I have, accurate or contrived, is that in any conflict situation the intell types usually so thoroughly infiltrate the opposition that they de facto control it. This seems to have been the case in Northern Ireland for example, with "Stake-knife". Bombing events and assassinations have been routinely allowed to proceed to avoid compromising the "asset" --- never mind the innocents killed.

Magda Hassan
02-20-2009, 12:28 PM
The impression I have, accurate or contrived, is that in any conflict situation the intell types usually so thoroughly infiltrate the opposition that they de facto control it.

This is true in Australia too.

Mark will confirm that there was probably not an armed robbery in Sydney in the 1970's and 80's that wasn't actually conducted by the appropriately named Armed Hold-Up Squad of the NSW police department. They used to rent out the guns and cop uniforms and ID and all. Or you could buy a police badge and pistol for $400. ("He just grabbed it out of my hand, sir, as I was trying to apprehend him sir") As long as they got a share of the action some had the green light. Others got a bullet or a hot shot. Certainly, all the major league drugs have been managed and franchised by the police since the 1960's.

As for the infiltration of political parties there was plenty on the left. The right never seemed to have any one there and they were the one's going around bombing Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants and homes. Most of the left parties only had about three or four members in them (People's Liberation Front Of Judeah) and two of them would be from special branch.

The bombing at the Hilton Hotel which was initially blamed on the Ananda Marga sect members who did big time for it was actually done by the security/intelligence forces in order to get more funding and powers to justify their irrelevance. There was to be a Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting (CHOGM) there and all the grand Poo Bars were in attendance. Initially they were to surprise! surprise! 'find' the bomb in the rubbish bin out side. I can't remember for the minute if the bomb went off early or if the garbage truck arrived early but the result was several dead and maimed. But they got their powers and extra funds as everyone could now see how much they were needed. :secruity: The other bombing that happened in Sydney a few years before was by an Ustashe group which has been long nurtured here. But as I said the right wing groups always had free rein here.

David Guyatt
02-20-2009, 03:26 PM
The impression I have, accurate or contrived, is that in any conflict situation the intell types usually so thoroughly infiltrate the opposition that they de facto control it.

This is true in Australia too.

Mark will confirm that there was probably not an armed robbery in Sydney in the 1970's and 80's that wasn't actually conducted by the appropriately named Armed Hold-Up Squad of the NSW police department. They used to rent out the guns and cop uniforms and ID and all. Or you could buy a police badge and pistol for $400. ("He just grabbed it out of my hand, sir, as I was trying to apprehend him sir") As long as they got a share of the action some had the green light. Others got a bullet or a hot shot. Certainly, all the major league drugs have been managed and franchised by the police since the 1960's.

Nice.

Once upon the time in the North of England there was the "Quality Street Gang" that did business in Manchester and which had wonderful connections I understand. One member even managed to apparently blackmail Maggie Thatcher and then Home Secretary Willie ("Big Willie Boys Trouser Toucher") Whitelaw - but I can't imagine what for. :D

There were also some arrests in the City of London back in the good old days where some members of the police force would utilize the services of known criminals to rob banks (yes!) and then use their cop cars to ensure they made a safe getaway.

Ah, those were the days.

Today, the crook franchise has been co-opted by Parliament - because robbing the banking halls of their betters and masters is so frowned upon as to no longer be a viable option. It's far easier to dip the smelly hand in the public purse and come out clutching a fortune.


As for the infiltration of political parties there was plenty on the left. The right never seemed to have any one there and they were the one's going around bombing Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants and homes. Most of the left parties only had about three or four members in them (People's Liberation Front Of Judeah) and two of them would be from special branch.

Splitter! That's the handiwork of the JPF, the Judean People's Front...:vroam:
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