Burgas attack said to have put Hezbollah on Mossad spy’s trail

Group first began searching for an agent in its ranks after Bulgaria accused it of responsibility for bombing, report says

An Israeli emergency rescue team examines the remains of a bus bombed in Bulgaria in July, 2012, allegedly by Hezbollah (Dano Monkotovic/Flash90/JTA)
An Israeli emergency rescue team examines the remains of a bus bombed in Bulgaria in July, 2012, allegedly by Hezbollah (Dano Monkotovic/Flash90/JTA)

Hezbollah has begun trying Mohammad Shorbah, a senior official in the Lebanese terror group’s external operations unit, for treason over accusations that he was an agent for Israel’s Mossad spy agency, Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper reported Friday.

Hezbollah was first alerted to the possibility of a foreign agent in its ranks in the aftermath of a bus bombing in the Bulgarian resort town of Burgas in 2012 that killed five Israeli tourists and a local bus driver, the report said, citing an anonymous security source.

The group’s suspicion was reportedly aroused when the Bulgarian interior minister accused it of being behind the attack. Shorbah had informed Israel that Hezbollah was behind the attack, and Jerusalem, in turn, relayed the information to the Bulgarian authorities, the report said.

Shorbah, who also allegedly played a key role in the 2008 assassination of top Hezbollah official Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus, thwarted five attempts by the group to avenge his death, piquing Hezbollah’s suspicions in the process, the report said.

Mughniyeh’s assassination was considered a major blow to the group, and while Israel never claimed responsibility, Hezbollah has blamed Jerusalem for the attack.

The arrest of a spy among Hezbollah’s top brass was first reported on Tuesday by Lebanese news outlet el-Nashra. On Thursday, al-Jazeera identified the man as Shorbah, a resident of the Southern Lebanese town of Nabatieh.

The el-Nashra report said that in addition to his alleged part in Mughniyeh’s assassination in Damascus, he was also involved in the killing of Hezbollah official Hassan al-Laqis in December 2013.

Imad Mughniyeh (photo credit CC-BY-SA Wikipedia)
Imad Mughniyeh (photo credit CC-BY-SA Wikipedia)

According to Kuwaiti daily al-Rai, the alleged Mossad agent was in the past responsible for the personal security of Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah. Since Hezbollah exposed him, it has also dismissed several other officials from its ranks, the Kuwaiti report said.

The Daily Star report said that Shorbah and four others were arrested after six or seven months of surveillance.

Unnamed sources told el-Nashra that the “collaborator,” exposed a few weeks ago, was an official in unit 910, responsible for “external operations against specific Israeli targets.”

The spy worked as a traveling businessman and was recruited by the Mossad in a “western Asian country,” el-Nashra reported.

Lebanon’s security agencies periodically report the exposure of Israeli-recruited agents in the country, as well as of listening devices planted in the south of the country.

According to the original report, Shorbah also exposed other Hezbollah agents, including Mohammed Amadar, arrested in Peru in late October with TNT and detonators following a Mossad tip-off; Hossam Yaacoub, convicted in Cyprus for planning attacks against Israeli tourists in March 2013; and Daoud Farhat and Youssef Ayad, arrested in April 2014 in Bangkok for planning terror attacks against Israeli tourists in Thailand.

There has been no reaction from Israel on the reports.

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