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Former Hezbollah Agent Tried to Recruit Palestinian Jihadis Through TikTok

cbsnews.com
cbsnews.com

The Israeli security body Shin Bet announced it had uncovered attempts by a former male Hezbollah operative to recruit Palestinians for terror against Israel through the popular video-sharing mobile application TikTok, according to a report by The Times of Israel.

According to the agency, two East Jerusalem men were arrested over their ties with the Lebanese recruiter Asalah Swouti, also known as Abu Ghassan.

Ghassan told the two individuals to conduct surveillance operations in Israel with their Israeli ID cards, according to the Shin Bet, which then led the individuals to take photographs of potential targets in Israel, focusing on Jerusalem for terrorist attacks.

The Shin Bet said Ghassan was a former operative for the Islamic Republic-backed terrorist group Hezbollah and would contact potential recruits in East Jerusalem and the West Bank through TikTok.

“At the beginning of the exchange, ‘Abu Ghassan’ focuses on personal matters and general discourse, such as the situation in Jerusalem and conflicts between Jews and Arabs,” the agency said to the Times of Israel.

“Later, as part of the recruitment process that is characteristic of Hezbollah, ‘Abu Ghassan’ moves the conversation to Telegram. There he forwards seemingly innocent requests to carry out tasks, such as taking photos and videos in Israel, as a possible target for an attack,” the Shin Bet noted.

“Over time and with the strengthening of the connection between the parties, ‘Abu Ghassan’ instructs his operatives to initiate terror attacks against Israeli citizens, ignoring the damage that will be caused to the operatives and their families,” the security agency explained.

In September of last year, Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar said incitement on social media was a significant challenge for the security agency, noting the difficulty in preventing algorithms from echoing inciting content against Israel that reaches young individuals. Bar said tackling online incitement against Israel was difficult as the agency has to safeguard democracy and freedom of speech.

For the past several months, Iranian-backed terrorist groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad supporters and followers have been inciting violence against Israel, praising terrorists who have died fighting Israeli soldiers and civilians and labeling them as “martyrs.”

In 2022, many of these terrorist groups received military and technological support from the Islamic Republic of Iran, coordinating terrorist attacks in Jerusalem and communicating with attackers through social media outlets.

Israel intelligence described attempts to recruit jihadis on social media a ‘grave’ situation, adding that they “call for vigilance online in light of the threat posed by various terror elements on social networks.”

Related Story: Islamic Republic of Iran Brags About New Missile Shipments to Hezbollah and Other Terrorist Groups

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