Recruited or set up?

photo: jovike
photo: jovike

There’s a question I’d like to throw into the air, following today’s indictment of Ameer Mahoul for “espionage” and of Omar Said for, it would seem, refusing to engage in espionage (he’s being indicted on charges of “contact with a foreign agent”, for conversations in which he told the “Hezbollah recruiter” to eff off). It strikes me there’s a familiar feature running through the indictments of  Rawi Soltani (a Balad activist who got 5.5 years for bragging to a “Hezbollah recruiter” he worked out in the same gym as the Chief of Staff), Omar Said and Ameer Mahoul. All three are Palestinian Israeli activists, which means most tourists visiting Israel would have better access to state secrets than they do. Nevertheless, apparently because of their well-known ideological leanings,  they are all approached by a “Hezbollah agent” who installs or tries to install an “encoding program” on their laptops. The laptops are then seized several months later.

Is it me, or could a set-up have been started a lot earlier than the “investigation” by the GSS?

I’m asking an honest question here. In favor of a “yes” stands the fact that planting evidence on political activists – physical, forensic, digital or otherwise-  is a secret police trick hundreds of years old, if not older; and the fact the Shin Bet already said it intends to subvert political activity and activists in favor of a less exclusivist “Jewish” Israel. Against it stands the possibility that Hezbollah did indeed recruit the three. At the moment, I can’t even write it with a straight face, but there has been precedent of activists being recruited for espionage – although extremely, extremely rarely, being the rather lousy assets that they are.

Are there any intelligence experts reading this blog who can chip in on whether Shin Bet setting these men up is as likely as them being recruited by Hezbollah, despite their obviously poor qualifications? Open question.

Oh, and, it seems Ameer Makhoul was tortured during the weeks he was denied access to his lawyers. Remember that when you read press-releases about him admitting to anything.

Please join the debate below; I’ll update the post with key points as we go along.