Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hizbollah members 'confess to spying for CIA'

Hassan Nasrallah

Hizbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Friday announced that members of his militant movement had confessed to being CIA agents and accused arch-foe Israel of turning to the US spy agency when it failed to infiltrate his Iran-backed party.

In the first such acknowledgement of infiltration since the group's founding in the 1980s, Nasrallah refused to disclose the identities of the two party members but said a third case was under investigation, slamming the US embassy in Lebanon as a "den of spies."

"When the Israeli enemy failed to infiltrate Hizbollah, it turned to the most powerful intelligence agency," Nasrallah said in a television speech broadcast in Lebanon, referring to the Central Intelligence Agency.

"Our investigation has found that ... intelligence officers (in the CIA) have recruited two of our members separately, whom we shall not name out of respect for the privacy of their families," he added.

"The first confessed he was recruited five months ago ... while the second confessed he had been recruited even before that," he said, adding that the recruiters were CIA agents posing as diplomats at the US embassy east of Beirut.

Nasrallah also said the group was investigating whether the third member of the party had been recruited by the CIA, Israel's Mossad or the intelligence service of a European country.

The Shiite leader, whose party is blacklisted as a terrorist group by the United States, insisted however that the alleged agents had not been involved in the 2008 assassination of top Hizbollah operative Imad Mughnieh in Damascus.

Hizbollah has openly accused Israel of the bombing that killed Mughnieh and vowed to avenge his death. The Jewish state has denied responsibility.

The Syrian- and Iranian-backed Shiite movement last fought a devastating war with Israel in 2006.

The month-long fighting killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, mainly civilians, and 160 Israelis, mainly soldiers, and destroyed much of Lebanon's major infrastructure.

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