Israel arrests Belgian national suspected of belonging to PFLP terror group
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Israel arrests Belgian national suspected of belonging to PFLP terror group

Palestinian from southern Lebanon who moved to Belgium is accused of receiving military training from Hezbollah, transferring ‘terror funds’ to operatives in Europe

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Palestinian terrorists from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) aim their weapons at an effigy depicting US President Donald Trump as they ride a truck during a protest in Gaza City, May 23, 2017. (AFP/MOHAMMED ABED)
Palestinian terrorists from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) aim their weapons at an effigy depicting US President Donald Trump as they ride a truck during a protest in Gaza City, May 23, 2017. (AFP/MOHAMMED ABED)

Israel arrested a Belgian national suspected of belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, when he attempted to enter the country through the Allenby Crossing from Jordan last month, the Shin Bet security service said Wednesday.

Mustafa Haled Awad, 36, was born in a Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon and later moved to Belgium and received citizenship there. According to the Shin Bet, Awad joined the PFLP in 2010 and served the organization from Europe, maintaining contacts with operatives in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and the West Bank.

“The investigation also found that Mustafa helped transfer terror funds from the ‘Popular Front’ in Syria and Lebanon to operatives in Europe,” the Shin Bet said.

According to the security service, Awad also trained with members of the Hezbollah terrorist group in Lebanon in 2015.

The Allenby Bridge border crossing between Jordan and Israel (Shay Levy/Flash90)

Awad was arrested when he tried to enter Israel from Jordan on July 19, but details of the case were kept under a court-issued gag order until now. The investigation into Awad was led by the Shin Bet and the Israel Police’s Lahav 433 unit.

The Central District Attorney’s Office is expected to file an indictment against the Belgian national for his activities with the terror group in the coming days, the Shin Bet said.

The announcement came as the Shin Bet faced renewed public scrutiny over its policies regarding interrogating foreign visitors to Israel at the airport and other border crossings.

“The investigation proves the threat posed by terror groups that bring in to their ranks people with foreign passports, which allows them to enter the State of Israel,” the Shin Bet said.

The Marxist PFLP group has conducted a number of terror attacks against Israel and Israeli citizens since it was formed in 1967, including the assassination of then-tourism minister Rehavam Zeevi in 2001.

In recent years, the PFLP has also been linked to Hezbollah and Israel’s arch-nemesis Iran.

“The Shin Bet will continue determinedly to thwart the threats posed by terror groups operating abroad against the State of Israel,” the security service said.

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