Israel’s Shin Bet has partially lifted the gag order (in English) on the Druze “spy ring” which allegedly passed on IDF military secrets to the Syrian regime. It’s named a few of the detainees whom I’ve already named (but hasn’t identified others whom I’ve already named and laid out the charges against them in vague and typically lurid form. But it has not offered the detail which I have offered here, including the original video recorded by a Golani Druze of an IDF intelligence unit meeting with al-Qaeda affiliated Syrian rebels inside Israeli-occupied Golan.
In reporting the story, no Israeli media outlet has acknowledged my breaking the story before them, which is of course par for the course. They’re apparently frightened of their own tails and losing the intelligence services as a source. I was told by Oren Persico, a reporter for 7th Eye which, ironically is a media watchdog publication, that he can’t link to such stories of mine for fear that even a link would be breaking Israeli law. All that’s quite ironic because when Israeli newspapers want to break stories under gag which are reported outside Israel, they seem quite able to do so.
Haaretz’s coverage of the story is even wrong. It says that the video Sedki al-Maket recorded, which was later aired on Syrian national TV, showed IDF officers meetings with al-Nusra commanders. Of course, if that were true, al-Maket would’ve been arrested on the spot. In the video I saw, he didn’t show the actual meeting. He pointed to the direction in which it was taking place and described what he’d seen. Apparently, Haaretz journalists don’t even bother to watch the videos about which they report. If they’d visited this blog they could’ve watched it themselves, not to mention it’s widely available on YouTube.
Haaretz also considerably bowdlerizes the actual story by saying al-Maket showed a meeting between the IDF and “opposition forces.” These were not just any opposition forces. They were al-Nusra fighters who’ve sworn allegiance to al Qaeda.
The article also includes this passage:
The claim of collaboration [between the IDF and al-Nusra] is one that is brought up at every opportunity in order to claim that the fighting in Syria are part of a campaign to topple the Syrian regime, rather than a revolution.
So many errors here: first, collaboration between Israel and al-Nusra has been widely reported by the foreign media and in this blog. No one needed al-Maket to prove it. But he is a Syrian Golani living under Israeli Occupation and was the first such individual to expose this joint effort. Second, I don’t know what Israel’s ultimate strategic aim is in joining together with al-Nusra. I doubt Israel has made a determination it wishes to topple Assad. My guess is that it wants to weaken Hezbollah and Iran. Because Assad is so tightly allied with both, Israel figures it must align itself with their enemy, the Islamist rebels.
Al-Maket has been charged with “serious espionage,” and aiding an enemy in time of war, making contact in performance of a crime, and contact with a foreign agent. Which is also interesting. Israel is observing an armistice with Syria. So how can this be a time of war? The “foreign agent” appears to be the Syrian media, which aired his story. Wouldn’t it tickle many foreign journalists to know that their contact with sources might constitute, at least in Israel, contact with the enemy. And they could be considered “enemy agents” just by being journalists. Someone will respond by noting that Syrian journalists are different from other foreign journalists. Just by being Syrian, they somehow become intelligence agents for the enemy.
Shabak, with this indictment, is trying to claim that al-Maket systematically spied on the IDF and reported his findings to Syrian intelligence. Actually, the video shows that he was acting as a reporter and reporting an important news story, that the IDF is collaborating with al Qaeda. It’s an important story because Israeli leaders shrey gevalt morning, noon, and night about the nation’s existential fight with “global jihad.” Apparently, this movement is convenient when Israel wants the world to bomb Iran or when it wants to justify killing Gaza civilians in war. But when it becomes inconvenient, as in this case, then the Shabak calls it “espionage” to prevent the world from knowing about Israel’s sheer hypocrisy. One country’s journalism is another country’s spying.
The indictment makes much of the claim that al-Maket , who is a journalist (a fact not acknowledge in the Haaretz story until nearly the end), aimed to provide material assistance to Syria and enable it to harm Israel security interest. This too isn’t true. The alleged crimes don’t injure any Israeli security interest. No Israeli soldier was harmed by the video. No Syrian soldier or Hezbollah fighter got information that allowed them to kill Israelis. Rather, what happened is that Israel’s intelligence scheming with its al-Qaeda allies were exposed for all the world to see.
The Haaretz report notes that Israeli secret police warned al-Maket in the past about his support for the Assad regime voiced among Golani Druze living under Israeli Occupation. So he didn’t take up arms. He didn’t fire a bullet. He merely opposed Israel’s Occupation of the Golan and expressed support for Syria, his native country. That is what really got the Shin Bet pissed. When Israel has thrown its weight behind the Syrian rebels, no Syrian living in occupied Israel may say anything contrary.
The detainee-victim’s attorney, Yamin Zeidan says that the charges against his client amount to revenge by the security services. They don’t like al-Maket ‘s political activism or journalism, so they’ve turned him into an enemy agent. He contends that al Maket ‘s intent is not to harm Israel, but to warn its citizens of the dangerous alliances which its security agents have made with organizations Israel itself defines as terrorist (i.e. al Qaeda). Zeidan claims that, in fact, it’s not his client who’s consorting with the enemy, but IDF commanders who are consorting with known Islamist terrorists. So who is the real criminal here?
Zeidan claims that al-Maket was tortured during the ten days in which he was denied contact with his attorney. Denial of legal representation is a violation of international law, but common practice in security cases. During this period, suspects are routinely abused and tortured by interrogators.
Israeli intelligence wants desperately to know how al-Maket discovered the liaison meeting with the IDF. They arrested a Druze IDF soldier from the Haifa area, but released him (according to my source) after questioning.
Middle East Eye has just published my account of Bibi Netanyahu’s election campaign racism-Islamophobia. In it, I argue that the Obama administration’s goal in putting Bibi into the deep freeze is to keep him and Israel off-guard and weaken their crediblity in opposing a looming Iran deal. Please read it and promote it on social media and share it with friends.