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Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Israeli Arab Charged With Spying for Iran

An Israeli Arab has been arrested on charges of spying for Iran, a police spokesman said Tuesday, underscoring growing Israeli-Iranian tensions.

Authorities believe Mohammed Ghanam came into contact with Iranian agents during one of his frequent trips to Saudi Arabia, where he facilitated the visits of Muslim pilgrims from Israel, police spokesman Gil Kleiman said.

'We suspect that it was there that he met people from Iranian intelligence,' Kleiman said.

A police statement said Ghanam had been introduced to an Iranian agent named Abu Osma in August 2003. The statement said the introduction was carried out by Nabil Mahzouma, an activist from the militant Islamic Jihad group whom Ghanam met in 1973 while serving a term in an Israeli prison for assaulting a soldier and stealing his weapon.

The police statement said Osma promised to pay Ghanam for enlisting young Israeli Arabs to carry out anti-Israeli missions after undergoing training in Jordan.

'In his interrogation ... Ghanam said he understood that the purpose of recruiting the young people was to carry out terror attacks, but he claimed that Osma did not specify the place or framework of the attacks,' the statement said.