Last month the Lebanese army smashed an Israeli spy ring and discovered something that may have far reaching implications for another terrorist operation: the 9/11 attacks on the US. Two brothers, Ali and Youssef al-Jarrah, operating in Jlela region of the Beqaa Valley near the Syrian border, were found in possession of spying equipment while operating under the cover of the National Association for Medical Services and Vocational Training and claiming to run a humanitarian mission. Ali and Youssef al-Jarrah happen to be uncles of Ziad al-Jarrah, one of the hijackers of the 9/11 planes.
The Beirut daily, As-Safir, reported that the Lebanese army had found in the brothers’ “operation room” sophisticated communications and surveillance equipment including a computer, video cameras, compact disks and a few “rare” electronic systems, as well as Lebanese and Syrian passports. Hizbullah-run Al-Manar TV reported on November 11, “Indeed, a few days [into] its discovery, the Lebanese Army Intelligence has reportedly put its hands on new details pertaining to the Israeli-linked terrorist network, composed of Ali al-Jarrah and his brother Youssef, as well as its way of operation.”
The Lebanese English newspaper, Daily Star reported that the “leader of the spy ring Ali Al-Jarrah is related to the Lebanese 9/11 suicide operator Ziad Al-Jarrah.” Reports from Lebanon further say that it was a joint operation between the Syrian and Lebanese intelligence services and that while the arrests had taken place earlier, they were announced at the beginning of November when news leaked to the media.
Under questioning, the Jarrah brothers have admitted to their links with the Israeli spy agency, Mossad, saying their task was to report on the activities of political parties and the movement of their leaders. While Lebanon is a favorite field of spies, this one has larger implications because the two men arrested are relatives of Ziad Jarrah, who reportedly commandeered United Airlines Flight 93. This flight apparently crashed into a Pennsylvania field after it was hit by a missile fired from a US Air Force plane. Immediately following the 9/11 attacks, there was speculation about whether United Flight 93 had crashed as a result of a struggle in the cockpit or was brought down by a missile. There was also speculation whether Ziad Jarrah was one of the hijackers; his family had insisted that he was a mere passenger on the flight and that his was a case of mistaken identity.
The arrest of his two uncles and revelation about their links to Mossad provide a new twist to the story. There are many people in the US and elsewhere in the world who believe that the 9/11 attacks were an inside job. Others say that if the accused individuals were indeed the hijackers, then they were duped by some intelligence agencies. The primary suspects were the Israelis. On September 11, 2001, the FBI arrested four Israeli citizens while they were taking pictures of the planes as they struck the twin towers in New York. They were also seen dancing in jubilation. After brief questioning by the FBI, they were released under instructions from the US Justice Department and promptly left the country. It was reported at the time that they were Israeli soldiers working undercover as employees of a New York moving company, but had not done a single job in their professed work.
All this remained speculative until the arrest of the Jarrah men, uncles of Ziad, in Lebanon last month. The Jarrah family is from the town of Al-Marej in the Beqaa Valley, where the arrests took place. Quoting residents of Al-Marej, As-Safir newspaper said that the men were arrested when security forces raided a home in the town and seized equipment from a car. The newspaper further said investigators had found documents which prove that the men had been in contact with Israeli intelligence agents. Investigators said that the men had passed information about the location of Lebanese and Syrian army outposts to the Israelis. Ali al-Jarrah reportedly headed the spy ring and the Daily Star quoting security sources, said he was a member of the Palestinian militant group Fatah al-Intifadah, which is known to be active along the Syrian border. Lebanese investigators also revealed that the spy ring had been active in the area since the late 1980s.
Elias Hanna, a retired Lebanese general, said that Lebanon provided the perfect environment for spies to operate in. “Lebanon is an open theater for espionage and counter-espionage,” he said. “It has all the elements that are needed in international and regional conflict.” But he expressed surprise that the group could have operated for 20 years. “That’s a long period of time.”
He said the group was probably trying to gather information about Hizbullah, but would not have been able to infiltrate the group.
There is strong suspicion the group provided information to the Israelis, helping them plan the assassination of the senior Hizbullah military commander Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus last February. Hizbullah Secretary General, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, has accused Israel of being behind the car bomb that killed Mughniyeh and has pledged to avenge his death. He also congratulated the intelligence services and urged greater vigilance in light of these troubling developments.
When asked about the arrest of the Jarrah brothers, an Israeli government spokesman refused to comment. The Zionists’ silence says much about their true role in the sordid affair and their guilt in the 9/11 attacks.