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Wed Feb 20, 2013, 12:25 PM

In Cyprus Trial, Man Says He Scouted Israeli Targets in Europe for Hezbollah

LIMASSOL, Cyprus — A man on trial here admitted Wednesday to being a member of the militant group Hezbollah, staking out locations Israelis would frequent and acting as a courier for the group inside the European Union.

In a little-watched proceeding in a small courtroom here, the defendant, Hossam Taleb Yaacoub, 24, described how he would be picked up in a van to meet with his handler, whom he knew only as Ayman, and used code words to confirm his identity. “I never saw the face of Ayman because he was always wearing a mask,” Mr. Yaacoub said.

In written testimony read out loud in Greek by his interpreter, the man said that he had not taken part in a plot to target Israeli tourists visiting Cyprus, as prosecutors charge. “Even if they asked me to participate in a terrorist action I would refuse. I could never do that,” Mr. Yaacoub said. “I’m only trained to defend Lebanon.”

But he was arrested in July with the license plates of buses ferrying Israelis written in a small red notebook. He said that he wrote them down because one of the license numbers, LAA-505, reminded him of a Lamborghini sports car, while the other, KWK-663, reminded him of a Kawasaki motorcycle.


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