Ronen Bergman’s account of the Ben Zygier tragedy notes that Israel lured two high-level Lebanese to spy on its behalf. One, Ziyad al-Homsi, mayor of a Bekaa Valley village, was brought to Beijing for what he thought was a trade mission. There he was wined and dined by Israeli agents (he didn’t know this at the time). On his second foreign trip, this time to Bangkok, he was brought face to face with Israeli agents who offered him $100,000 to betray his country. He accepted.
What’s news in tonight’s post is that a well-connected Israeli source tells me that both Chinese and Thai intelligence services were aware of this operation. In fact, I’d guess that they may’ve cooperated in the scheme in some way, perhaps even by “loaning” the Mossad native personnel to play roles in it (though I can’t confirm that definitively). For example, al-Homsi told his interrogators that a “Chinese named David” visited him in the Bekaa and invited him on behalf of the Beijing municipal government to visit. Presumably, he met with genuine Chinese while he was there. I strongly doubt the Mossad has many Chinese agents.
All of this means that these countries willingly allowed themselves to become intertwined with Israel’s war against Hezbollah by permitting intelligence operations on their own soil. While I may be naive, I find it extraordinary they would do so. Don’t they have enough problems with their own domestic insurgencies without getting mixed up with those of Israel? Does China want Hezbollah planning attacks in China? Or is it so confident of its security that it can discount this happening?
Both China and Thailand believe they have much in common with Israel. All three have Islamist insurgencies threatening the stabilities of their respective regimes. Uighurs in China and Muslims in southern Thailand, both of whom have engaged in violent insurrections and acts of terror to dramatize their plight. Thailand even had an attempted terror attack against Israeli targets that was allegedly masterminded by Hezbollah. It should be noted that Israel’s spy ring in Lebanon was designed to penetrate Hezbollah.
There has also been a long history of cooperation between the Chinese and Israeli militaries. Israel even sold China sophisticated early-warning radar technology and an advanced drone, which violated conditions under which U.S. offered the technology to Israel. It was forced to cancel both contracts. The IDF has embedded Chinese military officers (Hebrew) in its public affairs office so the Chinese may learn how to sway public opinion in the midst of controversial military operations against Islamist militants, a problem China also faces.