A Hizbullah terrorist working in Europe was told to track passenger flights from Israel to Cyprus, the New York Times reports based on testimony the man gave Thursday evening during his trial.
Suspect Hossam Taleb Yaacoub reportedly contradicted earlier testimony and admitted that his handler had told him to track landing times for an Arkia Israel flight between Tel Aviv and Larnaca. He had previously explained multiple trips to the airport as the result of a faulty rental car that had to be returned.
Yaacoub also admitted to being “an active member of Hizbullah,” and said the group had paid him $600 a month since 2010.
He told the court that he had a code name, explaining, “In general, the party is based on secrecy between members. We don’t know the real names of our fellow members.”
Yaacoub, 24, has claimed that he was not knowingly involved in planning an attack. Prosecutors say he was aware that his handlers were planning to kill Israeli citizens in Cyprus.
Last summer Israeli citizens were targeted in a bus bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria that investigators have since linked to Hizbullah. Five Israeli citizens and one Bulgarian man were murdered in the attack.
Yaacoub admitted to writing down the license plates of two buses used to transport Israeli tourists in Cyprus.
President Shimon Peres called again Thursday for the European Union to recognize Hizbullah as a terrorist group. The EU has previously rejected calls to label Hizbullah a terrorist group, arguing that the group’s “active political arm” makes the “terrorist” label inappropriate.
Israel’s Home Front Commander, Avi Dichter, derided the EU’s reluctance to condemn Hizbullah as “almost a joke.”