IDF Reservists Urged to Avoid Muslim States Due to Hezbollah Kidnap Threat

Israel's secret services recently warned former officers of the Israel Defense Forces and other security agencies not to travel to Muslim states, for fear that Hezbollah will try to kidnap them in order to avenge the death of Imad Mughniyeh. Reserve IDF officers who do business in these countries have also received such warnings.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed his ministry to examine whether it would be possible to legally prohibit businessmen with security backgrounds from traveling to countries where the kidnap risk is high. However, security officials told Haaretz that following consultations on the matter, it was decided to make do with a personal warning to each officer involved.

Intelligence warnings have indicated that Hezbollah is preparing to abduct Israelis. However, the warnings do not relate to specific individuals.

Another person who received a warning is a major general in the reserves who heads a team that includes other senior officers. He is currently in the United States. Yesterday, in response to questions from Haaretz, he said: "I have never set foot in a Muslim country." He said he has held meetings regarding business in a Muslim country, but the meetings took place in Europe. However, the company he heads is managed by another Israeli, who resides in the country in question.

The officer added that all his activities abroad were approved by the Defense Ministry and the Counterterrorism Bureau of the Prime Minister's Office. He said there were about 15 Israeli companies working in Muslim countries in the region, including some involved in security work.

The Kuwaiti daily Al-Jarida reported yesterday that Israel had asked seven businessmen in one country in the region to return to Israel in light of the threat.