Gerhard Conrad, the German intelligence expert who negotiated with Hamas and Hezbollah for prisoner swaps with Israel, is to head the European Union’s intelligence agency, the Telegraph reported.
Comparing Conrad to James Bond and a character from a John Le Carré spy thriller, the report said the EU is seeking to avoid “a repeat of the intelligence failures that allowed the Paris attackers to move freely around Europe.”
Conrad negotiated with Hezbollah in 2008 for the return of the bodies of IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, who were abducted and killed by the Lebanese militant group. Three years later, he mediated with Hamas for a swap that saw the release of Corporal Gilad Shalit after five years in captivity in Gaza.
According to the Telegraph, his role in the 2008 swap earned him the nickname of “Mr Hezbollah” in intelligence circles.
His role in the Shalit was personally requested by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Telegraph said, adding that Netanyahu singled out Conrad for thanks, but referred to the secretive spy only as “the German negotiator.”
The EU’s Intelligence Analysis Center (IntCen) “is not an intelligence service in the traditional sense,” the Telegraph said, and instead of commanding an agency of spies, Conrad will be heading coordination and intelligence-sharing between the body’s member states.