חשיפה: הפלסטיני שנשפט (במעורבות השב”כ) למאסר עולם באוסטריה הוא עבד אל-כרים אבו חבל
An Austrian court this week sentenced a Palestinian asylum seeker to life in prison for allegedly conspiring via social media to execute grenade attacks in Jerusalem. The prisoner’s name may not be reported in Austria and has not been reported in Israel either. But his identity has been reported in Palestinian activist media. He is Abdel Karim Abu Habel, who was freed as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange. He eventually made his way to Austria and requested asylum there.
As part of Israel’s intrusive surveillance of Palestinian social media activity, the Shabak allegedly discovered contacts Abu Habel made with Palestinians in Israel. The security services eventually arrested four Palestinians, and turned them, persuading them to testify against Abu Habel. The Shabak then approached the Austrian police and demanded that they prosecute him. They obliged. According to the Israeli ministry of justice announcement, the Shabak played a critical role in the prosecution offering the state evidence of Abu Habel’s alleged crimes.
Among the forms of assistance offered, an Austrian judge examined the four Palestinians and took their testimony via video conference. Doubtless, she was not aware of the extent of torture and other forms of abuse exploited by Israeli interrogators to obtain “confessions” from security suspects. The Austrian accepted the testimony and earlier this week sentenced the Palestinian to life in prison. The four Palestinians are still in the midst of their legal proceedings. Their “cooperation” will no doubt shave a few years off the lengthy sentences they face.
I find this entire case suspect on numerous grounds: first, why should a sovereign country need to enlist a foreign intelligence agency to make practically an entire case against someone in its jurisdiction? Would the U.S. permit the Shabak to furnish an entire case against a Palestinian suspect and then sentence him to life in prison solely on the basis of the Shabak testimony? Never happen–though we have unfortunately permitted Shabak agents to testify in court cases while masking their identity from the defendant, in violation of constitutional rights.
Second, why should an Austrian court believe testimony offered by Shabak or by detainees tortured under Shabak auspices? At least, the Austrians should have demanded that the witnesses testify in Austrian court so the judge could judge whether they testified voluntarily and truthfully. Further, the Shabak and most other Israeli intelligence and military services are notorious for concocting entire cases out of whole cloth. Here at this blog I’ve reported numerous such cases. So why should Austria believe anything it was told by the Israeli intelligence service?
Austria might likely have heard of the assassination of a Palestinian in the Palestinian embassy in Bulgaria by the Israeli Mossad, after the authorities dragged their heels in prosecuting him while under intense Israeli pressure to do so. The Austrians didn’t want a repeat of that mess.
In light of the spate of ISIS terror attacks in Europe, countries like Austria may’ve viewed Abu Habel’s case as yet another example of what might happen if the authorities don’t crack down on asylum seekers allegedly abusing the system. That would militate toward a decisive and harsh verdict.
Third, Austria’s justice system has permitted itself to be recruited by Israel’s secret police to join in an international campaign against Hamas. It’s not bad enough that the Shabak wages this failed war within Israel and conquered Palestine. Now it seeks to export the war abroad and co-opt foreign jurisdictions to fight it on Israel’s behalf.
Fourth, while I don’t know the particulars of this case, common sense says that a man seeking asylum is highly unlikely to destroy his chance of obtaining it by planning terror attacks. And why would he use Facebook as a method to plan a terror attack, knowing that Israeli authorities monitor it intensively for precisely this sort of activity? If you were recruiting conspirator to conduct a terror attack, doing so on social media seems an awfully inefficient and haphazard way of doing it. How do you even know who you’re speaking to? How do you know it’s a legitimate person and not a Shabak agent posing as a would-be terrorist?
It’s entirely possible some or all of these charges are correct and Abu Habel did plan terror attacks. But my money is on him being innocent or a far less guilty party than is made out by the Israeli secret police.