Extent and Objective of CIA Operations Under-reported

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Italian soldiers serving with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) measure a crater as the peacekeeping force and the Lebanese army inspect the site where a suspected Israeli spy device was blown up near the southern Lebanese village of Hula on 18 October 2009. (Photo: AFP - Mahmoud Zayat)

By: Ibrahim al-Amin

Published Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Recent revelations by the LA Times about the shutting down of CIA spying station in Beirut vindicated long held claims by Hezbollah about the agency’s work and fell short of outlining why and how this network operated.

As soon as Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah announced last June that the security apparatus of the Resistance had discovered the existence of Israeli and American agents in its ranks last June, the American Embassy in Beirut denied it, dismissing it as mere allegations.

Of course no one was waiting for the American side to announce any detailed position besides the official denial from the American Embassy in Beirut, considering that Nasrallah announced that those who worked to recruit Hezbollah members were embassy employees. As reported by American journalists briefed by American intelligence officials, no one in the US took the matter seriously. The words of Nasrallah were seen as another round of empty accusations for public consumption.

But there is more to what happened than the "semi-official recognition" currently being reported in the American press Monday.

American intelligence has been facing a major crisis since last spring. Back then, intelligence authorities found out that some spy recruits were framed not only in Lebanon, but also in Syria and Iran.

For even though the modus operandi of the intelligence network does not allow for communication among its different operating groups, all these groups have a single intelligence gathering mission in cooperation with Israeli intelligence. The objective is to face the mounting arms operations of resistance force in Lebanon and Palestine and Iran and Syria’s role in this mission. This clarifies that there is more to the reactions published Monday by the American press.

According to a follow-up with sources, the key work of American intelligence in this period was aimed at:

Direct measures to provide intense protection for all of its recruits in security work, whether smuggling them out of Lebanon, Syria, and Iran or by taking additional precautions to prevent their exposure.

Providing exemptions to officials in the American intelligence who are working on this issue, to put aside their duties and remove them to the United States or more secure spaces.

Form an investigation cell whose goal is to determine the reasons behind the breach that led to their discovery. The work of this cell will focus on looking into the area of mobile and electronic communications for their agents, and also into the issue of who they communicated with and when, so as to determine when the information was exposed.

Work on reviewing the materials that they obtained from these networks in an attempt to verify whether or not the false agents worked on the issue. This is in order to determine the time of the discovery to determine the actual information that had been received by American intelligence which was misleading.

Last July, Al-Akhbar published a report on the ongoing security war between American and Israeli intelligence and the security forces of Lebanon, Syria, and Iran. It was revealed between April and May that a cell of 25 NATO agents in Syria were exposed, with 17 arrested. One fled to Dubai and three to Lebanon, but they were caught in Lebanon. In May of last year, the Iranian security ministry announced the arrest of a network of spies working for the CIA, including 30 Iranians.

With the escape of the three Syrians into Lebanon, the Syrian intelligence has asked its Lebanese counterpart and Hezbollah to help in arresting them. The agencies were then mobilized to combat spying in Lebanon, and it is perhaps this mobilization that led to the capturing of intelligence agents, as announced by Hezbollah.

Our sources confirm that, "These operations revealed the moving of the Americans' primary working base in the area from Saudi and Lebanon to the UAE, but Dubai especially, which, because of the entering and leaving required for this type of work, it can be used as a cover for security work.”

Ibrahim al-Amin is editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar.

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