Israel recently prevented five to seven Hezbollah attempts to kidnap Israeli businesspeople and harm Israeli emissaries abroad.

A high-ranking Israeli security official told the Israeli media that: “There was a Hezbollah effort, with Iranian support, to perpetrate kidnap attacks as soon as possible in retaliation for the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh. Hezbollah goes from country to country looking for Israeli prey.”

It has been learned that kidnappings were prevented on at least three continents: West Africa, North and South America and Asia, where Hezbollah received assistance from Lebanese Shiite communities. The attacks were prevented in cooperation with foreign intelligence agents, who are aware of Hezbollah’s and Iran’s intent to retaliate.

The Israeli security establishment warned several other Israeli businesspeople that fly abroad frequently. A high-ranking security source said this week, “We assume that they are planning to kidnap them, but it is definitely likely that there are also intentions to assassinate Israelis, and we are on top of this situation as well.”

The Israeli security official added, “Quite a few Israeli businesspeople owe their lives and their freedom to this operation, which was intended to prevent the retaliation. This preventive effort depends on the cooperation we receive from the foreign intelligence agencies. We can certainly say that there is such cooperation.”

Recently, Hezbollah sleeper cells tried to strike at Jewish and Israeli institutions in Canada and even had the Israeli embassy in Ottawa under surveillance. Canadian intelligence thwarted these attacks at the last minute.

In addition, in recent months, the Israeli Foreign Ministry and Israeli intelligence ordered the evacuation of official Israeli emissaries and their families from several sensitive countries for security reasons. The emissaries were permitted to return to the countries shortly thereafter.

Israeli security officials said last night that Israel was just as concerned over Hamas’ intentions to kidnap soldiers in order to increase its bargaining power and get its prisoners released. Hamas assumes that if it succeeds in kidnapping another soldier, it will be able to demand double or triple the price that they are demanding for Gilad Shalit, the one Israeli soldier in Hamas captivity.

Only weeks ago the Israel Counter-Terrorism Bureau issued a severe worldwide warning of Hezbollah’s intentions to harm Israelis and to kidnap Israelis abroad, particularly businesspeople. The Counter-Terrorism Bureau called on Israelis to be more alert to any unusual occurrences and to reject any unsolicited approaches. Tourists are being asked to refrain from staying in remote places, particularly at night.

The regions considered to be particularly dangerous are the border triangle between Venezuela, Paraguay, Brazil and Western Africa. It is believed that Hezbollah’s section in charge of terror attacks abroad, which Mr. Mughniyeh himself directed until his death, were behind the planned attacks.

David Bedein can be reached at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com.

©The Bulletin 2008

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.