According to The New York Times, following Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon, Jarrah was jailed and then recruited as an intelligence asset by Israeli officers in 1983. As part of his work he photographed Hezbollah supply routes, and traveled throughout Lebanon and Syria. He communicated his information by satellite phone, and even made several trips to Israel on an Israeli passport obtained in Belgium or Italy. Paid by means of dead drops, Jarrah is reported to have received in excess of US$300,000 over the years.
Ali al-Jarrah lived in Maraj, Lebanon with his wife Maryam Shmouri al-Jarrah and their five children. A brother, Yusuf, has also been accused of helping him spy for Israel. Jarrah is also said to have secretly married a second wife living in Masnaa, which made it easier for him to move between the Lebanon-Syria border.
- Worth, Robert F. (18 February 2009). "Lebanese in Shock Over Arrest of an Accused Spy". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 February 2009.
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