Israel's Mossad likely behind killing of alleged Hamas financier in Lebanon

Israel's Mossad likely behind killing of alleged Hamas financier in Lebanon
Lebanon's Minister of Interior said that data suggested that Israel's intelligence service, Mossad, was behind the killing of Hamas's alleged financier.
3 min read
16 April, 2024
Mohamed Sarur was found dead on 9 April, his body riddled with bullets. [Getty]

Lebanon's Minister of Interior Bassam Mawlawi said on Sunday that it was likely that Israel's intelligence service, Mossad, carried out the murder of an alleged Hamas financier in Lebanon a week prior.

Mohammad Sarur, a 57-year-old Lebanese man who was accused of funnelling Iranian funds to Hamas, was found tortured and shot to death in the Lebanese town of Beit Mery on 9 April. Sarur was sanctioned by the US Treasury for transferring tens of millions of dollars from Iran to Hamas through Hezbollah.

Mawlawi told local outlet al-Jadeed on Sunday that "according to the data we have so far, [the killing] was carried out by intelligence services," referring to Israel's Mossad.

Security officials told Agence France Presse that Mossad had used Lebanese and Syrian agents to lure Sarur to a villa in Beit Mery, where they tortured and killed him.

His killers wiped fingerprints from the crime scene and used silenced weapons, leaving Sarur peppered with bullets and thousands of dollars in cash spread out over his body.

According to Lebanese outlet Al-Akhbar, judicial officials suspect the agents of having tried to extract information from Sarur, as he was shot in the hands and legs, which is suggestive of torture. Security sources also suggested that the assassination squad left within 24 hours of the operation.

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Spying abound

Lebanese security and Hezbollah have been on high alert for possible spying operations in the country since the outbreak of cross-border clashes between Hezbollah and Israel on 8 October.

Lebanese security arrested a Lebanese man for filming around the house of Speaker of the House Nabih Berri in January on suspicion of spying. Hezbollah-affiliated and Israeli media later suggested the man had been involved in the assassination of senior Hezbollah commander Wissam Tawil by planting a roadside bomb.

A car full of Dutch soldiers was detained in early March and handed over to their embassy after they were stopped in the southern suburbs of Beirut, where Hezbollah has important political offices.

The team of soldiers said they were preparing emergency evacuation procedures to provide support for the Dutch embassy.

Later that month, a man was arrested in the same area of Beirut after filming his surroundings. After claiming to be a lost tourist, he was discovered to have a Spanish diplomatic passport and was turned back over to the embassy.

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Leader of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah asked Lebanese in the country's south to stop filming videos, while municipalities asked people to disable WiFi-enabled cameras for fear of Israel using them to conduct surveillance.

Even prior to the outbreak of the current round of hostilities between Hezbollah and Israel, Lebanese authorities reported Israel-related spying to be on the rise in the country.

Between 2019 and 2022, security sources reported that they had arrested 185 people suspected of collaborating with Israel — a marked increase from the years prior.

The increase in spying operations was suspected to be motivated by Lebanon's 2019 economic crisis, which plunged a significant portion of the country into poverty.