Russian FSB services helped Hizbullah bust spy ring – report

Russian FSB services helped Hizbullah bust spy ring – report

Lebanese Group has ‘amassed quantities of undisclosed data’

Daily Star staff

BEIRUT: Western intelligence sources in the Middle East have disclosed to DEBKAfile that a special unit of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), commissioned by Hizbullah’s special security apparatus earlier this year, was responsible for the massive discovery of alleged Israel spy rings in Lebanon in recent months with the help of “super-efficient” detection systems.

DEBKAfile is an Israeli, Occupied Jerusalem-based English-language open source military intelligence website with commentary and analyses on terrorism, intelligence, security, and military and political affairs in the Middle East.

The sources told DEBKAfile last week that the FSB and Hizbullah have “amassed quantities of undisclosed data” on Israel’s clandestine operations in Lebanon and “are holding it in reserve in order to leak spectacular discoveries as and when it suits their purpose.”

“This disclosure, if borne out, would indicate that the Russian agency, which specializes in counterespionage, is engaged for the first time in anti-Israel activity in the service of an Arab terrorist organization,” DEBKAfile said.

An Israeli security source described this turn of events extremely grave, Debkafile reported. It also cast an ominous slant on Moscow’s deepening strategic involvement in Syria.

“It was generally assumed until now that new electronic devices supplied by France to the Lebanese Army were instrumental in uncovering the suspected Israeli spy rings,” the DEBKAfile report said.

“It now transpires that the Lebanese Army was not directly involved; it only detained the suspects handed over by the Shiite Hizbullah,” it added.

Those same sources disclosed to the Israeli news website that FSB agents, “by blanketing every corner of Lebanon with their sophisticated surveillance systems, were able to detect the spy rings one by one and additionally hack into Israeli intelligence data bases.”

The Russians dated Israel’s massive clandestine infiltration of Lebanon to shortly after the summer 2006 war.

“Hizbullah sustained heavy casualties and, fearing an Israeli surprise attack at that point, began conscripting thousands of young Shiites as fighters [haphazardly], without checking their backgrounds,” the sources told DEBKAfile.

“In their haste, they also rounded up Syrian and Egyptian migrant laborers in Lebanon,” they added.

The sources explained that Israel “used the opportunity to recruit large numbers of agents in both these groups, especially among the conscripts sent to Revolutionary Guards camps in Iran and Syrian military facilities for training.”

The Lebanese judiciary has so far charged at least 20 people, some of them top-ranking military and police officers with espionage. Despite the ceasefire between Lebanon and its southern neighbor, the two countries are technically still at warl. Treason in Lebanon is punishable by death.

A growing list of double agents has been exposed over the last few years as part of a continuing operation, code-named “Surprise at Dawn,” which began in June 2006 before the outbreak of the 34-day 2006 war with Israel.

In July, the UN Security Council warned that the existence of a large Israeli-run espionage network in Lebanon could threaten a fragile peace established between the two countries following the end of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war.

Israel has refused to comment on the spy allegations. But it has been reported in the Israeli media that without the intelligence provided by the Lebanese network, the Israeli Air Force would not have been able to knock out Hizbullah’s medium-range missile launchers with such a high degree of accuracy during the 2006 war.

Many of Hizbullah’s men were also assassinated on the basis of information provided by the spies.

The campaign of assassinations culminated in the killing, supposedly by Mossad agents, of top Hizbullah military commander Imad Mughniyeh who was killed in a car bombing in Damascus last year.

The operatives were allegedly given orders to spy on a number of Palestinian resistance organizations as well as Hizbullah. – The Daily Star