The recent effective and precise attacks by the Israeli Air Force on the airports in Syria to prevent the landing of Iranian planes that bring advanced weapons for Hezbollah and the precise attacks on Iranian targets of the “Revolutionary Guards” and Hezbollah in Syria arouse great concern in the regime of President Bashar Assad of a deep intelligence penetration of the Israeli Mossad into the Syrian civil and military establishment .
Syrian officials say that the Israeli Mossad managed to recruit officials and Syrian military personnel to gather information about the activities of the Syrian army and the Iranian “Revolutionary Guards” and the Hezbollah organization in several areas of Syria.
According to them, in addition to recruiting agents in southern Syria in the Golan region or in southern Lebanon, the Israeli Mossad is taking advantage of the difficult economic situation in Syria to recruit Syrian refugees in Europe and Arab countries and through them it is using their relatives inside Syria, in exchange for large sums of money, to collect intelligence information.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on September 10 that Bashar Assad’s regime had recently arrested dozens of people suspected of collaborating with Israel.
The report stated that among the detainees are officers in the air defense units and among the Syrian army units located near the airports in Syria as well as near Misyaf and Tartus.
In the last two years, the Syrian intelligence has arrested a number of suspects of providing vital information to Israel, they were officials and military personnel in Syria, the operation was done in cooperation with the Lebanese intelligence.
At the end of last year, a large espionage network of Israeli intelligence was exposed that operated through social media in Lebanon. Israeli intelligence concentrated on recruiting agents among members of the Alawite community on the Syrian coast, which is the community to which President Bashar Assad belongs to, with the assumption that this community has better access to information about the regime and the military establishment.
In October 2021, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made a dramatic announcement in the Knesset about a special secret operation by the Israeli Mossad in an attempt to locate intelligence information on the fate of the missing Israeli navigator Ron Arad.
As a result, news spread in Israel that the Israeli Mossad kidnapped an Iranian general in Damascus and transferred him to an African country to interrogate him about the affair, at the end of which he was released.
According to security sources, this publication was unnecessary and caused great damage to Israel as it provoked the Syrian intelligence to increase the activity of its counter-espionage units inside the country to locate agents of the Israeli Mossad.
The spy doctor
The Lebanese newspaper “al-Akhbar”, the mouthpiece of Hezbollah, revealed on September 10 that the Israeli Mossad recruited a Syrian doctor living in Sweden, he was recruited through a fictitious company under the pretext that it wanted to provide services of purifying the water and sewage system in Syria for free, he was asked to transfer to the company maps of the water network in Syria and other information of a security nature.
According to the report, he also served as a mediator and helped the Israeli Mossad to recruit his father and two brothers who are officers in the Syrian army and they gave the Mossad security information in exchange for sums of money of thousands of euros.
He was arrested by the Lebanese intelligence when he arrived by flight to the airport in Beirut.
The doctor’s name is Mouin Yosef, born in 1969 from the city of Ladakiya on the Syrian coast, he is a doctor for internal diseases and kidneys who worked as a department head in one of the hospitals in Stockholm.
In his investigation by the Lebanese security officials, the doctor said that already in 2018 he was contacted via e-mail by a man who introduced himself as a representative of the company, he met with him in Stockholm and offered him the services of his father and two brothers who are officers in the Syrian army.
Over time, he realized that he had been recruited by the Israeli Mossad and met with its agents in Prague, Switzerland and Italy.
In August 2020, the Mossad, according to his testimony, began to activate him through an encrypted application on the WhatsApp social network, he explained to his father and two brothers that he was only an intermediary between them and the Israeli Mossad, and in their consultation they decided to continue the relationship with the Mossad for sums of thousands of euros.
The disclosure of the affair in the “Al-Akhbar” newspaper is an attempt by Syria and the Hezbollah organization to reassure the Syrian and Lebanese public and show them that from a security point of view Syria and Lebanon are in full control and succeed in capturing the agents of the Israeli Mossad.
In Syria and Lebanon they do not buy this version, the public follows with great interest in the Arab media and on social networks the precise airstrikes of the Israeli Air Force on the airports in Syria and the targets of Iran and Hezbollah and understands that the precise attacks stem from quality intelligence that the Israeli intelligence has.
This is another move of psychological warfare by Syria and Hezbollah, but it is a transparent move, however, the intelligence agencies in Israel, and especially the Mossad, take precautions in using the quality intelligence they have so as not to “burn” their sources and use it wisely so that the agents are not exposed.
Yoni Ben Menachem
Senior Middle East Analyst