A Hezbollah operative in Syria tasked with enlisting locals to gather intelligence on Israel appears to have resumed his activities after lying low in response to the recent arrest of one of the spies, Israeli television reported Sunday.
Ghaith Abdullah, 26, was arrested in January by troops after crossing into Israeli territory from Syria for unspecified reasons and was later charged with spying on the Lebanese terror group’s behalf.
The Israel Defense Forces has said Abdullah was part of the so-called “Golan File,” a Hezbollah plot that mostly involves collecting intelligence and recruiting operatives, but also has weaponry in its possession, namely explosives, light arms, machine guns, and antitank missiles.
According to the Kan public broadcaster, Abdullah was recruited by a Hezbollah member known by the nom de guerre Abu Ali, who is in charge of enlisting spies for Hezbollah in southern Syria.
The unsourced report said Abu Ali made an effort to speak in Syrian Arabic to obscure his Lebanese origins and claimed to be a Syrian intelligence officer. Abdullah said during questioning that Abu Ali easily passed through Syrian government checkpoints, underscoring the freedom of movement the Assad regime gives to Hezbollah.
To enlist local Syrians, he allegedly gave recruits such as Abdullah large quantities of oil and food, exploiting their poverty to bring them on as spies. Though Abdullah reportedly figured out Abu Ali was Lebanese, he agreed to photograph IDF positions in exchange for the provisions.
Following Abdullah’s arrest, the broadcaster said Abu Ali went underground but seems to have recently resumed operating in southern Syria, without further elaborating.
According to the IDF, Abdullah was a squad commander involved in advancing attacks against Israel. The military named another operative in his squad, the leader of another squad, and a Syrian man involved in recruiting new members.
Authorities have from time to time arrested and charged individuals with spying on Israel for Hezbollah, including providing inside information, helping recruit people for terror attacks and more.
Iran-backed Hezbollah, considered the most significant threat along Israel’s borders, is Lebanese but has become increasingly active in Syria since coming to the aid of Syrian President Bashar Assad during the civil war in the country.