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Discovery of CIA agents was not luck- Hezbollah | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat- The recent report attributed to current and former US officials revealing that US Intelligence (CIA) operations have been exposed to a setback after Hezbollah discovered CIA agents within its ranks, has stirred controversy in Lebanon, especially since last June the US embassy in Beirut rejected claims by Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah that “Hezbollah’s counter-espionage organization was able to expose two CIA agents in the organizational body of Hezbollah.”

Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim al-Qasim believes the US admission “has significant consequences, the first of which is the US admission that its intelligence work exists actively in Lebanon. This reveals that the United States is trying to tamper with the Lebanese stability, and to interfere for the benefit of Israel.”

“We present this aggressive behaviour to those who promote US guardianship so that they know fully that the United States is a real danger to Lebanon and the region, a danger that cannot be confronted except by clipping its claws, exposing its agents, and consolidating the equation of the army, the people, and the resistance.” Al-Qasim told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General stressed that, “This issue is tantamount to an expression of US failure in achieving the necessary ability because of the exposure of the hands that deal with it. Therefore the United States wants to exonerate itself when it suffers more paralysis and failure, as it is suffering now in Lebanon, and justifies this by saying that its networks have been exposed, and hence it is difficult for it to operate on the arena.”

Al-Qasim went on to say that, “As for the third significant consequence, it is that the United States wants to deceive us by saying that it has halted operating in Lebanon because of the exposure of its networks so that we become confident and reduce our alertness and activities in this field. However, as far as we are concerned, we will deal with the United States and Israel as if they do not miss an opportunity to try to infiltrate the arena in various forms. Our eyes, God willing, will remain open, and we will continue with these great and good efforts with the security forces that work on some dossiers.”

“Let everybody know that today the United States is not in its best form, because it is suffering from repeated failures in various parts of the world, and it is trying to control the tempo in the new Middle East according to its viewpoint, but it is suffering from various frustrations.” Al-Qasim added.

Deputy Kamil al-Rifai of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc told Asharq Al-Awsat in a telephone interview that, “The exposure of these people has been a strong blow by Hezbollah to the CIA. It was not at all a stroke of luck as much as it was the result of a well-studied operation and continuous efforts.”

Al-Rifai pointed out that Hezbollah knows very well that Mossad, CIA, and even intelligence organizations of Arab countries are pursuing, and exerting huge efforts to get into the arena of Hezbollah and its allies.

“On the basis of this, Hezbollah very cautiously and continuously works to discover these people in order to expose them.” Al-Rifai stressed.

A Lebanese judicial source who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity said that” Lebanese judicial authorities have not received anything official in this concern, and have not been handed over any of the arrested by the authorities concerned.”

The Associated Press attributed to high-level US sources that the Intelligence officials during the past months have worked secretly to protect their “remaining” agents in Lebanon so that Hezbollah does not expose them. The US sources pointed out, “The damage inflicted upon them in Lebanon was much greater than usual.”

AP points out, “The CIA knew that the measures it had adopted in Lebanon were weak.” The agency speaks of “warnings reaching the CIA officials, especially the chief of the CIA unit monitoring Hezbollah’s operations.” However, AP points out that there is ambiguity about whether anyone will shoulder the responsibility of the “catastrophe,” as it describes the incident, and whether this incident will have an impact on the ability of the CIA to recruit more elements in Lebanon.

The news agency points out that the CIA officials have been instructed “to be extremely cautious in dealing with any kind of sources in Lebanon.” Bear in mind that a US official has revealed instructions that have been issued to face up to the new fait accompli in Lebanon, but the official has not explained the nature of these instructions. The Washington Post reported attributing to US officials that the CIA operations in Lebanon had stopped after the exposure of a network of its agents, and the arrest of at least five of these agents.

Moreover, retired Brig-Gen Amin Hatit, strategic expert with close ties to Hezbollah, explains the reasons behind what the CIA has called “a setback.” Hatit points out, “The disappointment suffered by the United States is due primarily to Lebanon’s position in the system of CIA international intelligence stations, which is classified as one of the nine principal stations in the world. This position is due first to the available freedom of movement in the country, and second to its nearness to the required targets, which are considered to be class one and strategic targets for the CIA, such as Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah.”

“The agents, who have been exposed, are of high level, and are commissioned to handle primary dossiers. Thus, the United States considers this not merely a setback, but a lethal blow to the US intelligence in Lebanon.” Hatit told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“The United States today started the attempt to repair the damage. But it knows very well that it is incapable of abandoning its system in Lebanon, first because this is a critical time and the United States need any information however slight, and second because Hezbollah has exposed the working mechanisms of US intelligence, and this will make the mission of its agents, who already consider Hezbollah a complex organization, much more difficult.” Hatit emphasised.

“The damage inflicted on the United States as a result of the exposure of its agents is much greater than the damage inflicted on Hezbollah by these agents.” Hatit added.

Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah on 23 June 2011 revealed, “The counter-espionage organization of the resistance has been able to expose three cases of dealing with hostile intelligence organizations within the organizational body of Hezbollah. Two of the arrested were dealing with the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the third was dealing with a side that has not yet been identified.”

The Hezbollah leader stressed, “These cases do not include a single person in the first rank of leaders or clerics. They also do not include anyone who is close to the secretary general, either at the security or at the practical levels, and none of them has any links to the front or to the sensitive military units, such as rockets and other units about which the United States and Israel are trying to gather information.” Nasrallah pointed out that what happened focuses the light on “the espionage den in Awkar, as it has been confirmed categorically that the US embassy in Awkar is an espionage and recruitment center for the benefit of Israel.”

At that time, the spokesman of the US embassy in Lebanon rejected what he called “accusations,” and described them as “empty and groundless.” The spokesman considered, “Nasrallah is trying to deal with problems within Hezbollah, and this is something with which we have nothing to do.”