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Lebanon: More Israeli Spies to be Arrested Soon | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat- A senior Lebanese security official said that more networks dealing with the Israeli intelligence service are likely to be arrested in the near future, based on information that the security agencies continue to receive.

The official, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to make statements, said: “The efforts are focusing on accurately and sensitively pursuing important clues that will lead to the uncovering of more agents.”

The official refused to give details on developments in the investigation into the networks. He also refused to say to what extent the Hezbollah ranks were infiltrated and at what level. However, he did not deny that they were infiltrated.

He only said: “We know that Israel is interested in establishing networks that are independent from each other, but the security agencies exerted efforts leading to clues by way of technical equipments that were purchased and distributed to their agents. As a result, these agencies discovered what the Israeli enemy did not expect us to discover.”

Some people make a link between the dismantlement of the spy networks in Lebanon and the abduction of a Middle East Airlines employee, Joseph Sadir, who was kidnapped by armed men in Beirut’s Southern Suburb, a stronghold of Hezbollah. It was reported that he was held by Hezbollah. Also, there were rumors that Sadir was an Israeli agent and that it was he who supplied Hezbollah with information on the spy networks that were, in turn, passed on to the Lebanese authorities.

However, the security official denied any connection between the uncovering of the agents networks and the abduction of Sadir. He said the investigations that were conducted to find the whereabouts of Sadir have failed, and added that the official authorities have no information on the party that kidnapped him.

He said: “Usually, we know one way or another when Hezbollah arrests a person suspected of dealing with the Israeli enemy. Hezbollah first investigates the detained suspect and then hands him over to the security agencies, and this action is officially announced. In the case of Sadir, however, nothing is clear, and there are no signs or hints about the party that kidnapped him. All the rumors about this case are untrue.”

Even though there is cooperation between the intelligence branch of the Internal Security Forces and Hezbollah in the uncovering of spy networks, there is talk in Lebanon that there is tension between the two sides.

It was said that Hezbollah imposed conditions on the intelligence branch on this branch’s operation in south Lebanon and on giving it a free hand to carry out searches and pursuits there. But the security official refused to comment on this point and affirmed that the current relationship between the Lebanese security agencies and Hezbollah is “excellent.” He did not rule out the possibility of Hezbollah being in a state of confusion, given the number of [Israeli] agents operating in areas that are supposed to be under its control.

The security official said: “The desire to get rich fast prompted one of the agents who were arrested to become involved in this activity. He served as an official in the Amal Movement and was particularly close to one of the movement’s candidates [for elections]. But a row between this agent’s brother and the movement led to clashes as a result of which the two brothers were expelled from the Amal Movement.”

He added that the former official of the Amal Movement, who became an agent, met and married a girl from Hezbollah, joined the Hezbollah ranks, and began to attend their meetings. However, the security official did not say whether the agent became involved with the Mosad before or after he joined Hezbollah.

As the spy networks began to be uncovered and many people’s desire to get rich fast became known, residents of the villages to which these detained agents belong learned about many things.

Two brothers from the Shihab Family and Fatimah Qandil, wife of one of two brothers, were arrested two days ago in the Town of Al-Ghaziyah to the south of the Sidon City in south Lebanon. The residents of this town said they observed signs of a sudden wealth on these persons after the July war [in 2006].

Hassan, a resident of Al-Ghaziyah, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Shihab brothers lived in the town for over 20 years, bought a land, and built a house on it. As for Fatimah Qandil, the resident said, she was born in Al-Ghaziyah after her family moved to the town following a relationship by marriage with a family from the town. Therefore, the town residents had no suspicions about the Shihab brothers and Fatimah Qandil, the resident added.

However, Hassan noted that the residents of the village observed that the shutters of the two brothers’ home were always closed. He added that passersby could not see what went on inside the house, as is the case in villages where family members sit with their guests in the veranda, especially in summer.

Hassan said: “The Shihab brothers did not have any form of family-like relations with the village residents. They had relations only with shopkeepers whom they supplied with sweets.”

Hassan recalled the Israeli planes’ intensive bombardment of his town during the July war in which many people were killed.

He said: “Eight people from the same family and other persons known for their close relationship with Hezbollah were killed as a result of the bombardment. The bombardment targeted a funeral procession for one of the dead persons following leaked information that Hezbollah officials were among the people who participated in the procession.”

He added: “At the time, there was a lot of talk about agents who informed the enemy of any movement by Hezbollah members in and around the town by sending luminous signals, which some of the residents saw at night.”

He continued: “However, the observation that elicited argument was that the Shihab brothers stayed in their home is spite of the bombardment that targeted the vicinity of their home. The bombardment suspiciously avoided their home.”

The picture became clearer when the Israeli aggression ended.

Hassan said: “The situation of the Shihab brothers changed all of a sudden. They bought a plot of land, began a business to trade in iron, and replaced their modest cars with luxury vehicles. The signs of wealth were obviously clear. However, we did not think that this situation had any thing to do with spying for Israel.”

He added: “We thought that one of the two brothers, who always traveled, was good in business and that he was the source of the sudden wealth. As is the case in all villages, rumors began to spread, but nothing else happened.”

He continued: “Today, however, we found out that they were behind the signals, which made it easy for the planes to shell positions that were held by the Hezbollah youths.”