Israel Stops Terror Plot by Palestinian Recruited by Hezbollah via Facebook

Israeli security forces working hard to keep Israel safe. Illustrative security vehicle. By Joshua Spurlock

Social media has long been about more than connecting with old friends or making new ones—terror groups have been using it for recruiting as well, with Hezbollah reaching multiple Palestinians via Facebook. The latest to join the Lebanese terrorist organization, however, was arrested by Israeli security forces before he could carry out any of his planned terror attacks, which reportedly included orders for another terror kidnapping.

Jerusalem was on the list of sites for terror reconnaissance for terrorist Yusef Yasser Sweilam, according to a press release by the Israel Security Agency (ISA). “His handlers directed Sweilam to carry out various tasks, including photographing—and gathering information on—IDF bases and checkpoints as well as sites in the Old City of Jerusalem,” said the ISA press statement. “He was also directed to set up a terrorist cell in order to carry out an abduction and pass the abductee into Lebanon.” The IDF Spokesman’s Twitter feed noted that “this isn’t the first time Hezbollah has recruited Palestinians over Facebook.”

The Twitter post cited a report on the IDF Blog about multiple Palestinians arrested for plotting terror attacks for Hezbollah in 2016. Facebook was a recruiting tool then as well.

Regarding the latest terror effort, the ISA press release noted that Sweilam was recruited via a Facebook profile used by Hezbollah for recruiting. After that, the secrecy and technology escalated in the terror plotting process.

Said the press release, “At a certain stage Sweilam was instructed to open an ‘operational’ e-mail account to which was sent encryption software, by means of which he was in contact with his Hezbollah handlers.”

Yet despite Hezbollah’s technological success in reaching Palestinians willing to attack Israelis, their operational efforts have generally failed. Multiple Palestinians were recruited by Hezbollah in 2016, but like Sweilam, were arrested by Israel.

Hezbollah has long been a brutal enemy of Israel but has launched limited directed attacks on Israelis since the 2006 Lebanon war, which was instigated by a terror kidnapping by Hezbollah of two Israeli soldiers who ultimately died in the attack. Their bodies were returned to Israel only after the Israelis agreed to release Hezbollah terrorist Samir Kuntar in an exchange.

Despite relative quiet since 2006, Hezbollah has been actively rebuilding their weapon stockpile. They’ve also been looking for Palestinians willing to do their attacks for them, with the IDF Blog post from last year noting that Hezbollah in recent years has “attempted to establish a terror infrastructure in Israel.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, March 12, 2017)

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