Arab Media: U.S. Technology Helped Uncover Israel Spy Ring in Lebanon


lebanonAmerican training and technology enabled a breakthrough to crack the alleged Israeli spy ring in Lebanon, media in the Arab world reported. Over 20 suspects, including a high-ranking army official, have been charged with spying for Israel over many years, media reports say. Since 2006, the United States has supplied the Lebanese with $1 billion in assistance, including $410 million to improve the work of the Lebanese police and intelligence services.The value of American assistance can be seen in a reported break in the investigation into the 2005 murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Hezbollah is increasingly seen as the culprit, not Syria as first thought.

Details about Hezbollah’s alleged involvement were published in May in the German newsweekly Der Spiegel. The magazine reported that the Hezbollah connection was discovered using American technology supplied to the Lebanese.

The technology allowed the Lebanese authorities to survey the history of cellular telephone usage for phones in the area of the attack at the time.

A common denominator was found among eight numbers. The phones were all bought on the same day in the same city.

They were all activated six weeks before the assassination and were used only for communications with the other phones purchased at the time. They were not used after the attack, with the exception of one instance that pointed to Hezbollah, the magazine reported.

The plot was uncovered after a delay of three years, when Hezbollah member Abd al-Majid Ghamlush used one of the eight cellphones to call his friend. This was enough to identify him and lead to the other alleged members of the ring, which was reportedly headed by Hajj Salim.

Salim has since risen in prominence and was thought to be a possible successor to Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah’s head of terror operations, who was killed a year and a half ago when his car was blown up in Damascus.

Ghamlush has since disappeared, and Der Spiegel reported that he may no longer be alive.

If he was killed, he is not alone – the man who headed assassination investigations for Lebanese intelligence, Captain Wissam Eid, was killed in an attack in January 2008. It is not yet clear who was responsible for that attack.

The Der Spiegel report discloses technological abilities on the part of an Arab intelligence agency – the ability to survey cellphone records that were years old on a massive scale. It can also be determined when and where the phones were used, and who was calling whom.

The technology provides a gold mine for investigators, whether from the police or military. Not surprisingly, the press has shown an interest in the achievements of Lebanese intelligence and the technology they received from the Americans.

{Haaretz/Yair Israel}