Defendant in Cyprus admits Hezbollah membership, staking out Israelis


WASHINGTON (JTA) — A Lebanese national on trial in Cyprus for planning to attack Israelis acknowledged membership in Hezbollah and staking out areas frequented by Israeli tourists.

Hosem Taleb Yaacoub, who has a Lebanese and a Swedish passport, was arrested last July carrying a notebook that contained license plates of tourist buses carrying Israelis.

On Wednesday, The New York Times reported, Yaacoub admitted in court to the stakeouts and to Hezbollah membership, but said he would not take part in plotting an attack on Israelis.

Two weeks after his arrest, a suicide bomber killed five Israelis and a bus driver in Bulgaria, and earlier this month, Bulgaria implicated Hezbollah in the attack.

The Times reported that Cypriot authorities have sought to avoid publicity for the trial, saying it is "sensitive." A verdict is expected next month.

The trial comes as the United States and Israel are increasing pressure on the European Union to ban Hezbollah as a a terrorist organization.

Yaacoub said he had been a member of Hezbollah since 2007 and worked for the group for four years, including running errands in Turkey and France.

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