By Ryan Jones Israel Today magazine
American-Israeli Ilan Grapel, arrested last week in Egypt as an alleged spy for the Jewish state, was reportedly told by the US consul in Cairo this week that he is “in big trouble.”
That according to Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, which also reported that Grapel had confessed to working for the Israeli Mossad. The report claimed that Grapel had been sent by the Mossad to foment unrest among Egyptians, and that he had sent regular reports back to his handlers in Tel Aviv.
Israel has vehemently denied that Grapel has any connection to its intelligence community. But Grapel’s case is not being helped by allegations that when he applied for a visa extension in Egypt he falsely listed himself as “Muslim.”
Grapel is expected to be officially indicted next week, and there is concern in Israel that he could be used by the ruling military regime in Cairo to appease growing calls for Egypt to return to a state of war with the Jewish state.
Grapel is a 27-year-old resident of Queens, New York. He came to Israel in 2005 to serve in the IDF, and was lightly wounded during the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
Despite his voluntary service in the IDF, Grapel has been described by friends as “dovish” when it comes to the Israeli-Arab conflict. In fact, he has a deep love of Arab culture, and is reportedly fluent in Arabic – facts that may explain his describing himself as “Muslim,” since he likely sees no difference between followers of Allah and followers of the God of the Bible.
Grapel traveled to Egypt during the revolution against the regime of former dictator Hosni Mubarak and subsequently volunteered with an American relief organization there.
The Egyptian media has made much of his arrest, and newspapers controlled by the government have hailed Grapel’s capture as a “painful blow” to the hated Mossad.
But a number of Egyptian media commentators have noted that the Egyptian public is largely skeptical. It is common knowledge that Grapel documented his entire time in Egypt by posting photos and daily updates to the popular social network Facebook.
Average Egyptians say that if Grapel really is a spy, then he must be the most foolish spy on the planet, the director of Daily News Egypt said.
Rather, most Egyptians view the case as an attempt by the ruling military regime to divert attention from other problems. Since taking power earlier this year, the military regime has been only slightly more popular than deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak.