“Abdel-Razek turned down offers by his Mossad handlers to learn English or any other foreign language in order to be able to interact with a wider circle of Mossad officers and agents abroad,” Esmat Talaat Aql, the defense lawyer for Tarek Abdel-Razek (Hassan) the primary defendant in the Israel espionage case, told Ahram Online.
“They raised his monthly salary of $800 to learn English, but he was unwilling because his education was mediocre, with a technical diploma, and his low IQ would not enable him to learn a new language.”
Aql denied reports that Hassan was able to monitor calls by senior officials in Egypt or that he was the reason behind the sacking of former Minister of Agriculture Mahmoud Abu Zeid.
She said his primary mission was to recruit other agents, and he was not the decision maker in recruiting new collaborators but only made recommendations on online applications which were submitted to the companies he created under the cover of exporting oils and confectionery to Syria online. “He was just a relay officer, or more accurately a communications mule,” Aql said.
“The most advanced thing he did was use a laptop which a Mossad agent gave him,” she continued. “He didn’t even know what it contained, and it would have been very difficult for him to know how to eavesdrop on the telephone conversations of the minister of agriculture, for example.
Upon his request, he was not active in Egypt, which was his condition for agreeing to work for the Mossad. They agreed to this and he did not open a company or establish a network in Egypt.”
However, the official bill of indictment stated that in March of this year Hassan travelled to Macau, in China, where Moshay, one of the Israeli accomplices, instructed him to find employees in Egyptian communication firms as potential recruits for the Israeli secret services. Accordingly, they set up a website under the name Hoshtek with a Hong Kong identified ISP address advertising vacancies in the field of communications in Egypt. Hassan reported to Moshay on the backgrounds of applicants, report says.
According to the indictment bill, Hassan was initially trained in how to make contact with specific people and was given a secret email through which he could stay in contact with his two Israeli accomplices. He was instructed to set up an import and export company, a cover for his intelligence gathering work in Syria. Hassan was given $5000 to set up the company with the promise of an $800 monthly salary as well as bonuses and travel costs. Hassan was also given an encrypted laptop for him to safely store data.
The indictment also stated that it was Hassan who initiated the contact with Mossad, by sending the Israeli secret service an email offering his services as an Egyptian citizen.
Also according to the indictment bill, Hassan received a phone call in August 2007 from Joseph Daymour, who approached him as a Mossad representative and asked him to meet in Thailand. When Hassan could not obtain a visa for Thailand, Daymour told him to go to Nepal instead. After waiting for fifteen days he was summoned to India by Daymour.
According to Hassan's lawyer, the Mossad office in Asia was short on Arab collaborators, which was the reason behind the other defendants in the case – Mossad officers Eddy Moshe and Joseph Daymour – travel to Israel’s embassy in India to handle the message from Hassan and bring him there to begin training, she claimed.
Aql said Hassan would exchange documents and small amounts of cash with the Syrian agent, but added that, on his last mission, during which he was arrested, he was supposed to give the Syrian scientist a highly protected espionage laptop which is estimated at a value of $500,000, plus $20,000 in cash.
Abdel-Razek was planning to keep the laptop and money, do something with them and head to Saudi Arabia with his wife to live there and inform the Egyptian authorities about the operation, Aql said. “This is more proof that he is an idiot,” she asserted.
The bill of indictment stated that during a visit to Thailand in May 2008, Hassan was given the address and password of a website advertising job vacancies that was used by Mossad to identify potential recruits in Syria. From among applicants for jobs in industries such as olive oil and confectionary, Hassan was charged with compiling background reports on them for Moshay to identify those worth approaching.
Hassan travelled to Syria under the name Taher Hassan and met the candidates Moshay had selected. While there he also reported back on Syrian security measures.
In August, Hassan went to Thailand and met Moshay, who introduced him to a Mossad officer who gave his name as Abu Fadi. Hassan was instructed to meet with another Mossad agent in Syria and give him a sum of $2500 in addition to $500 worth of presents.
Hassan’s lawyer, on the other hand, insists that he had no appreciation of what they’ve done with him and felt that all roads will lead to the same place. He is prepared for any retribution and gave up all the information he has. He wants the Egyptians to arrest the two Mossad officers (of whom Egyptian intelligence is said to have kept under very close surveillance) because he believes they are intent on gravely harming Egypt, Syria and Lebanon, his lawyer pleads.
Abdel-Razek has been treated in "a very civilized manner" by Egyptian intelligence and State Security which were handed the case by the National Security Agency, says Aql. He had a minor medical condition, for which he was treated for at a hospital in Cairo, Aql added.
She recalled that in her first meeting with Abdel-Razek, after the Bar Association assigned her the case, Abdel-Razek told her he had a very bad feeling about his trial. She tried to reassure him that perhaps there would be leniency, but he would respond that he is prepared for punishment.
According to his lawyer, Abdel-Razek is a socially, financially and intellectually challenged collaborator.
Aql does not expect Abdel-Razek to receive a death sentence, such as that imposed on the Syrian spy, who was hanged last month. Egypt and Israel are not at war, she said, and the courts will deal with the case in accordance with the law.
The investigation is over and the case has been sent for trial before the Supreme State Security Court, which will be the forum where the next scene in this chapter of the ongoing “spy wars” between Egypt and Israel will be played out.