IDF: Clandestine Hezbollah unit operating on Golan 

Source: IDF: Clandestine Hezbollah unit operating on Golan – Israel Hayom

Unit has been building a terrorist network near the Israel-Syria border since last summer without the knowledge of Syrian President Bashar Assad • IDF officials hope that exposing its existence will force Assad to terminate the threat in its infancy.

Lilach Shoval, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff // published on 13/03/2019
   
Hezbollah fighters march in southern Lebanon. Inset: Ali Mussa Daqduq 


A secret Hezbollah unit, which it calls “the Golan file,” has been building a terrorist network near the Israeli-Syrian border on the Golan Heights, the IDF revealed on Wednesday.

At this stage, the unit focuses primarily on gathering intelligence on the IDF, but intelligence officials say it could also carry out operations against Israel in the future.

The network includes dozens of operatives and is headed by Ali Mussa Daqduq, who joined Hezbollah in 1983 and served in a number of operational positions in southern Lebanon during the IDF presence in the area, as well as other parts of the Middle East.

In Iraq, Daqduq, also known as Abu Hassin Sajd, was imprisoned by American forces after an operation he commanded led to the kidnapping and execution of five American soldiers. Daqduq’s fate had vexed American officials after they were forced to hand him over to Baghdad after failing to secure a custody deal ahead of the U.S. military’s withdrawal from the country.

At the time, the White House said it had received assurances from Baghdad that Daqduq would be tried for allegedly orchestrating the 2007 kidnapping. But an Iraqi court cleared him of the charges, citing a lack of evidence.

Last summer Daqduq was sent by Hezbollah to Syria to establish the “Golan file.”

According to Israeli intelligence officials, Daqduq’s unit has been so heavily compartmentalized that even the Assad regime in Syria, and even many elements within Hezbollah itself, were unaware of its existence.

The hope in the IDF is that exposing the unit’s existence will lead the Damascus regime to terminate its activities in Syria.

This is not Hezbollah’s first attempt at establishing a terrorist network on the Golan Heights. In May of 2013, Syrian President Bashar Assad opened the Golan frontier to Hezbollah to act against Israel, in an effort to divert attention from raging Syrian civil war. Consequently, the Shiite terrorist group initiated campaigns to build terrorist networks in the area, and by 2015 had carried out several terrorist attacks against Israeli forces. According to foreign reports, the men tasked with spearheading these operations, Samir Kuntar and Jihad Mughniyeh, were both assassinated by Israel.

With the end of the civil war in Syria and the return of Assad’s forces to the Golan frontier, Hezbollah had lost its legitimacy to maintain a presence there. The organization’s leadership, however, decided to establish the secret unit regardless, with better operational capabilities than before, to act against Israel when ordered.

The assessment within the IDF is that the unit’s operatives, many of whom formerly served under Kuntar and Mughniyeh and live in villages near the Israel border, are well equipped and could try transferring additional weapons from Lebanon or use Iranian stockpiles already in Syria.

As stated, the Syrian president was unaware of the unit’s existence until now, and IDF officials believe he will view it unfavorably, to say the least, as it undermines his authority.

It is important to note that currently there are no concrete warnings of terrorist attacks emanating from the Golan Heights frontier, and one of the main reasons the IDF chose to expose the unit’s existence now was to nip the threat in its infancy.

“We are revealing the [terrorist] infrastructure] in such a manner that will knock [Hezbollah] off its chair,” a senior IDF officer said.

 

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