The Shin Bet security service arrested a young Palestinian suspected of planning to kidnap Israelis and ferry them to Lebanon on behalf of the Hezbollah terrorist group, the agency said Thursday.
Yousef Yasser Sueilem, 23, was picked up in the city of Qalqilya in the end of January. On Thursday, an indictment was filed against him in a military court in the northern West Bank, the Shin Bet said.
His handlers instructed him to create a terrorist cell in order to carry out kidnappings and to smuggle the hostages into Lebanese territory.
“But Sueilem was arrested by the Shin Bet ahead of time, before he could carry out his planned attacks,” the service said.
Sueilem, a locksmith, was also ordered to collect intelligence on army bases, checkpoints and “sites in the Old City of Jerusalem,” the Shin Bet said.
He is believed to have been recruited by Hezbollah through a Facebook page. He later used an encrypted email address to communicate with a Hezbollah operative who went by the name “Abu Hassin,” according to the security service.
In August, the Shin Bet also thwarted attempts by Hezbollah to recruit West Bank Palestinians through Facebook in order to set up terror cells in the West Bank.
Through social media, the group was able to form two terror cells in the West Bank last year, the Shin Bet said at the time.
Within Israel, the Shin Bet also said it had detected multiple attempts by Hezbollah to recruit operatives from the country’s Arab population through a Facebook profile that posted anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian sentiments.