I received the following from a friend who says he was personally acquainted with Ilan Grapel, the man Egyptian authorities are accusing of having spied for Israel:
knew the guy as we all worked for the security department at johns hopkins. the school provided these shuttles taking students/faculty/employees within a mile radius or so of campus, for safety. he was a dispatcher if i remember right, i was a driver of the vans. i’d say we were friendly acquaintances, the drivers would come into the office a couple times a night on the shift, drink slurpees with the other employees, that kind of thing. they used to call him screech, came from queens if i remember right.
was a fairly standard campus pro-israel rally attendee type in those days, when those groups were a lot louder than they are now. not really remarkable, same canned lines and the whole lot back then. other friends knew him a bit better. i don’t think bragging about wanting to join the israeli army some day was remarkable back then or even now.
last i heard about him from a friend was he got shot in the shoulder during the lebanon war in 2006 and couldn’t raise one of his arms over his head anymore, may have gotten some kind of compensation for that. there were a couple of kids i knew who had aspirations to go to the middle east in the future to learn arabic, to help “understand the enemy” in hopes of being of some use to israeli society.
i don’t want to misrepresent myself as someone close to him, i knew him casually and found him mildly interesting, but that’s about it, and it was more than 7 years ago. i think it’s entirely plausible that he was indeed motivated by nothing other than pro-israel romaticism, going to egypt for whatever reason, to talk up israel or do something that he thought would help that cause of his in some way.