Lebanon News

Security situation may spark spy wars in Lebanon

File - A Lebanese army checkpoint is seen in Ras Baalbek, Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

A security official who spoke to The Daily Star did not sugarcoat the risks that he outlined in a recent report that he will soon file to his superiors.

“The security situation in Lebanon is very fragile and vulnerable to many possibilities, necessitating a serious emergency plan,” he said.

This report is filled with sensitive information, much of which is attributed to Western security sources that have been tracking the growth and spread of fundamentalist movements in some Palestinian camps. Some of these groups have pledged loyalty to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), Jund al-Sham, or the Nusra Front, after they were infiltrated by emissaries that came into the country from Syria and Iraq.

The report speaks of the fear circulating in diplomatic circles that despite the extraordinary efforts of the security forces and the support of international actors who would prefer to see Lebanon stabilized, the country is in danger of falling prey to the bad intentions of certain regional and international parties.

These fundamentalist groups receive political support and cover from known regional powers and they are planning a new wave of bombings and assassinations that have a purely political goal, it claims.

Lebanese security sources said they have received verified information from their Western counterparts that certain militant parties with ties to several intelligence agencies are preparing a major attack on the institutions or symbols of certain states that play a major role in regional conflicts. Other plans include attacks on military barracks in specific areas, Lebanese Army checkpoints, and a plot to abduct Lebanese soldiers in order to exchange them for Islamist prisoners in Roumieh.

According to the sources, recruiters from fundamentalist organizations bearing French, German and Chechen passports have already entered the country and started training groups of boys between the ages of 17 and 19 to use explosive belts and carry out suicide operations.

The sources warned of security flare-ups related to events in Iraq and the Gaza Strip, especially the conflagration taking place in Iraq due to the exclusionary policies of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the military gains made by ISIS.

The sources were particularly concerned about a possible resurgence in Israeli spy activity in reaction to the spike in fundamentalist mobilization. These actors are attempting to draw Lebanon into the turmoil sweeping the region in order to increase their leverage in any possible Arab, regional or international agreement.

In a private meeting between a European official and some Lebanese parliamentarians, the European official expressed his concern that the Mossad would reactivate its sleeper cells in Lebanon. Some of these cells have been infiltrated by the Lebanese authorities, resulting in the identification of a number of suspected spies, including a man who was arrested in Tripoli. More arrests are expected in the near future.

Security and Army officials have also decided to boost their coordination in order to protect Lebanon from foreign intelligence services, which may attempt to provoke or intervene in conflicts in order to achieve the greatest possible gain for their countries.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 15, 2014, on page 3.




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