Lebanon News

CIA refuses to comment on Hezbollah spy report

Hezbollah Flag

BEIRUT: The CIA refused to comment Tuesday on the validity of a report broadcast by Hezbollah’s Al-Manar last week which claimed to reveal the names of the head of the CIA in Lebanon and his predecessor.

The CIA “does not, as a rule, address spurious claims from terrorist groups,” CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood was quoted by the Washington Post Tuesday as saying.

“I think it’s worth remembering that Hezbollah is a dangerous organization, with Al-Manar as its propaganda arm. That fact alone should cast some doubt on the credibility of the group’s claims,” Youngblood said.

However, the Post said former CIA officials confirmed that at least one of the names of spies mentioned by Al-Manar, Daniel Patrick Mcfeely, was probably accurate.

Al-Manar said that Mcfeely was the current chief of the CIA station in Lebanon. The station added that Mcfeely, born in 1966, replaced Louis Kahi, who quit his job as the CIA chief in Lebanon in 2009. It said 10 other CIA officers were involved in an operation to recruit Lebanese to spy on Hezbollah.

Separately, Hezbollah MP Nawwar Sahli said Tuesday that the so-called intelligence war with Israel and the CIA was ongoing. “We have our tools and we are watching their movement.”

He said the U.S. administration “panicked” after Hezbollah exposed CIA operatives in Lebanon.

Sahli urged Lebanese officials to keep the “spy” issue out of political bickering “because it is related to Lebanon’s national security.”

“Anyone who criticizes this subject in a negative way would be encouraging spying,” Sahli said.

He said “part two” of the intelligence war would be announced in a timely manner.

Hezbollah MP Nawwaf Mussawi claimed Monday that CIA officers had been meeting Lebanese agents in public in the Metn area and called on the government to deal with U.S. intelligence in the same way they dealt with collaboration with Israel.

“There are currently open meetings held by American intelligence agents in Lebanon in restaurants and nightclubs in Dbayyeh and Jounieh,” he told LBCI in an interview.  

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 14, 2011, on page 2.

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