Ibrahim Yassin is a simple young man – a Lebanese goat herder tending to his father’s sizeable flock. He lives in the remote village of Dellafe in the beautiful Beqaa Valley. But when the Palestinians arrive in southern Lebanon in the early 1970s his tranquil rural existence comes to an abrupt end. Upon learning that an undercover Israeli intelligence officer helped his wife in a medical emergency, successfully delivering his son Mohammed, he is immediately drawn towards the Israeli side, motivated by the old maxim that my enemy’s enemy is my friend. Recruited by the Israel Defence Forces, he soon find himself working as a mole deep within Hezbollah, bringing valuable information to his handlers and reporting on the activities of Abbas Al-Musawi, the leader of Hezbollah himself. With all of the danger and jeopardy that implies.
Imad Mughniyeh is one week and one day older than Ibrahim Yassin and also from a small village in the south of Lebanon. He has another identity, the nom de guerre al-Hajj Radwan. But unlike Ibrahim, who received little formal education, Mughniyeh became a student at the American University of Beirut where he read engineering. Buildings and bridges were far from his remit though – instead he becomes the founding member of Lebanon's Islamic Jihad Organization and number two in the leadership of Hezbollah. Nicknamed ‘the Fox’ because of his cunning, Mughniyeh masterminds a series of hijackings and bombings around the world, from Beirut to Buenos Aires and beyond, establishing a reputation for himself as the world's most wanted terrorist not named Osama bin Laden.
When Ibrahim Yassin is captured by Hezbollah and under interrogation as an Israeli spy, Imad Mughniyeh has Yassin’s ten-month old son ‘burned alive before my eyes’.
Fiercely loyal to Israel’s intelligence services and working closely with two of its most talented operatives, Yassin sets out to infiltrate Hezbollah and carry out a clandestine mission of personal revenge – to snare the elusive Fox.
Although written as historical fiction The Goat Keeper from Hezbollah is based on the remarkable life of Ibrahim Yassin (now Rabbi Avraham Sinai) who now lives in the holy city of Safed in the north of Israel. His story is related in the first person, together with the testimonies of the audacious spy-masters who recruited and handled him for over two decades. A gripping thriller which takes us from the Beqaa Valley to Tel Aviv and from Damascus to Buenos Aires and beyond, as we see the global reach of Hezbollah and the intelligence agencies determined to thwart it.
Allan Slater is an investigative journalist who specialises in the Middle East. Based in Antwerp, he has worked for several national newspapers both in Belgium and the UK. He has also written extensively within the genre of true crime, several of his books forming the basis of television documentaries and docu-dramas.
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