Wednesday, May 02, 2007

MK allegedly gave the enemy targets, classified info

From THE JERUSALEM POST May. 2, 2007, by Yaakov Katz...

Former Balad chairman Azmi Bishara is suspected of spying for Hizbullah during the Second Lebanon War and providing the group with targets and classified military information, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) announced on Wednesday.

The investigation, carried out by the Shin Bet and the Israel Police over the past few years, revealed a long list of grievous espionage-related crimes and activity against the state of Israel.

According to the suspicions against Bishara, the former MK transferred to Hizbullah information, predictions, assessments and recommendations about the political echelon, the IDF and the Israeli public during the Second Lebanon War.

'We're the original owners of this land'
The suspicions revealed to the press on Wednesday were only a fraction of the material against Bishara that the Shin Bet and the police have collected as part of their investigation over the past few years.

In addition to supplying information to a Hizbullah intelligence officer, Bishara was also - according to the Shin Bet - in contact with additional intelligence officials from other countries. Based on these suspicions, the Supreme Court permitted the police and the Shin Bet to tap Bishara's telephone conversations, a tactic that can only be employed with the court's approval.

Bishara, the Shin Bet said, also received detailed missions from Hizbullah.

The investigation was conducted in conjunction with the attorney-general and the State Attorney's Office. Bishara is suspected of the following crimes: Assisting the enemy at a time of war; maintaining contact with a foreign agent; passing information to an enemy; money laundering and terror financing.

Bishara was questioned by the Israel Police's International Serious Crimes Unit on March 22 and 23 in Petah Tikva.

During the interrogation, Bishara informed his interrogator that he planned to travel abroad for several days. Due to his parliamentary immunity, authorities were unable to prevent him from leaving the country.

Should Bishara now attempt to return to Israel, he will be arrested immediately. According to Israel Radio, the state prosecution was also weighing whether or not to issue an international arrest warrant for Bishara.

During the war, Bishara reportedly gave advice to Hizbullah on how to "deepen their strikes against Israel." He also gave advice concerning the effects of Hizbullah's use of long-range missiles south of Haifa, and Israel's response to the attacks.

He also transferred military information to Hizbullah that, according to the Shin Bet, he knew was classified by the IDF censor. Bishara also informed Hizbullah of what he called "Israel's intention to target Hizbullah leader Shiek Hassan Nasrallah." The Shin Bet said that his relationship with Hizbullah had begun even before the war.

Several days after Bishara gave the advice to Hizbullah, rockets fell south of Haifa.

"Bishara caused severe harm to the security of the state of Israel," a high-ranking Shin Bet official said Wednesday. "He maintained secret contact by secret lines of communication with Hizbullah…he walked around the Knesset where decisions were being made by the prime minister, ministers and government officials."

Bisahara is also accused of receiving at least hundreds of thousands of dollars illegally. The money, the Shin Bet said, was transferred from a money-exchange office in Jordan to a money-exchange office in east Jerusalem in envelopes, and from there to his home in Beit Hanina. Bishara, in some cases received the funds in dollars, and in other cases in shekels. Each sum was equivalent to $50,000.

The Shin Bet said however, that the money did not originate in Jordan, but came from a third country which officials said they were unable to name due to the censorship. During his interrogation, Bishara failed to provide explanation for the suspicious money transfers.

Lt.-Cdr. Amichai Shai, head of the Israel Police International Serious Crimes Unit, said that the police were considering requesting a judicial inquiry in Jordan to proceed with the investigation. Shai said that it would be the first time that the state of Israel had ask to conduct an investigation in Jordan.

On April 26, after his resignation went into effect, police raided and searched Bishara's home in Beit Hanina and in Haifa, as well as his office in the Knesset and in Nazareth.

"Azmi Bishara is wanted for questioning by the Israel Police" Shai said, adding that while the former MK was no longer in Israel, police and the Shin Bet planned to continue with the investigation. The high-ranking Shin Bet official dismissed Bishara's accusations of discrimination and said that the severe suspicions spoke for themselves, "we will not be deterred from investigating anyone, even public officials or Knesset members that need to be investigated," the official said.

The Shin Bet official added that Bishara, who has a doctorate in philosophy and is a "very intelligent person," was highly regarded by Hizbullah as an intellectual who had insight into the dynamics of the Middle East, including those of the state of Israel and the Jewish population.

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