Western intelligence sources in the Middle East have disclosed to DEBKAfile that a special unit of the Russian Federal Security Service – FSB, commissioned by Hizballah’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.
Those sources report that the FSB and Hizballah have amassed quantities of undisclosed data on Israel’s clandestine operations in Lebanon and are holding it in reserve in order to leak spectaculars 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. An Israeli security sources describes this turn of events extremely grave. 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. It now transpires that the Lebanese army was not directly involved; it only detained the suspects handed over by the Shiite Hizballah.
Those same sources disclosed 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 its 2006 Lebanese conflict. The Lebanese Shiites sustained heavy casualties and, fearing an Israeli surprise attack at that point, began conscripting thousands of young Shiites as fighters pell mell, without checking their backgrounds. In their haste, they also rounded up Syrian and Egyptian migrant laborers in Lebanon.
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.