Charles Ayoub, the owner and editor of privately-owned Lebanese daily Al-Diyar, revealed that he was approached by Egyptian spy–Tarek Abdel Razek Hussein, who was working for the Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations, otherwise known as the Mossad–in an attempt to recruit him. Hussein was arrested earlier this week and will stand trial on charges of spying for the Mossad.
In a statement to the Al-Arabiya website, Ayoub, known for his hostility to Israel, said that Hussein called him nine months ago from outside of Lebanon. He claimed that Hussein did not offer him US$200,000 as reported by Egyptian authorities, but he tried to tempt him with other offers.
Ayoub, a former security officer in the Lebanese army, said that Hussein offered him a chance to become a speaker on Middle East issues in China, Thailand and South Africa, and to travel first class on expense-paid trips for which he would finance using a special credit card.
Ayoub said that the nature of the offer combined Hussein's persistence made him suspicious. He therefore turned down the offer.
"If I had known he was working for the Mossad, I would have lured him to Beirut and reported him to the Lebanon’s counter-espionage department," he said.
In his confessions to Egyptian investigators, Hussein claimed the Mossad ordered him to contact the editor of a major Lebanese newspaper close to the Syrian regime and Hezbollah. He also said that he succeeded in contacting the editor and offered him US$200,000 as well as the opportunity to become the host of his own show.
According to Al-Arabiya's website, Hussein came from a poor family and lives in an apartment the size of 60 square-meters. His father worked in a water bottling company and later worked in a security company after retirement. Hussein has one brother and two sisters, one of whom works as a nurse at a government hospital in Cairo, the website said.
Hussein worked as a Kung Fu trainer after being trained in the art in China during the mid-1990s. Later hit with financial troubles, he returned to China in search of work in late 2006. When he saw an ad on Mossad's website recruiting people from the Middle East who speak Arabic or Persian, he emailed the agency saying that he is an Egyptian living in China and looking for work.
In 2007 he received a call from Mossad agents in East Asia that went by the name Joseph Demor. After answering questions, he was asked to meet Demor at the Israeli Embassy in India. He was then directed to travel to Thailand where he visited the Israeli Embassy in Bangkok on several occasions and met a Mossad agent by the name of Edi Moshe. Moshe is still at large.
Moshe instructed Hussein on how to confidentially gather information and infiltrate elite circles in Egypt and other Arab countries. He also provided Hussein training in social skills and instructed him on how to communicate with the Mossad through the internet.
In return for his services Hussein received US$5000, which he spent on an import-export company based in China. During his three year service with the Mossad, he received a total of US$37,000.
Hussein is charged with "cooperating with the Mossad in an attempt to harm the national security of a number of Arab countries including Egypt, Syria and Lebanon," according to Al-Arabiya.
He posted ads on the internet recruiting Lebanese and Syrian cellular communications experts to work for the Mossad and managed to provide the Mossad with classified information about top executives in three major Egyptian mobile phone companies, in preparation for recruiting them in an effort to infiltrate Egypt’s communications sector.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.