A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Israeli Spy Network in South Lebanon

The fact that a couple of suspects in the alleged Israeli spy network operating in South Lebanon and now being rolled up by Lebanese security have fled to Israel suggests that this is indeed more than a propaganda matter, and in fact the Israeli press is reporting on it as if the network is indeed theirs. One of the reports from Lebanese media picked up by The Jerusalem Post suggests that a Lebanese Deputy Mayor was to arrange a meeting with Hasan Nasrallah and notify Mossad of the time and place: that sounds like a setup for a targeted assassination, and the fact that the Israeli media is repeating it may lend it some credibility.

The aforementioned Jerusalem Post story adds:

According to a Hizbullah source quoted on the NOW Lebanon news site, Israeli intelligence officials committed "a terrible mistake" that has been exploited by Hizbullah's security apparatus to unravel the spy network.

"It does not appear until now that the Israelis are able to determine" the error, the source said.

Interesting indeed. The NOW Lebanon website quoted in the article is a March 14 (Hariri/liberal pro-Western) site, though I couldn't locate the specific article being cited.

Elsewhere it's being reported that the network is being rolled up because the Internal Security Forces have discovered a "technical secret" that allowed them to be identified. Here's a report at Hizbullah's Al-Manar English site. It says that the "technical secret" will some day be revealed and also quotes a report in Al-Safir as saying the Israelis have, in fact, learned of the discovery of the "technical secret."

Not clear what the "technical secret" may be since the story explicitly says that the cells did not know each other's identity.

Lebanon has complained to the UN about the escape of suspects into Israel. Given the sensitivity of that border, I suspect they had some help.

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