CIA cover blown in latest spy-versus-spy with Iran
The naming of the CIA station chief in Beirut by the Shiite militant group Hezbollah is seen as part of an intensifying undercover war between the West and Iran.
The publication by the militant Shiite group Hezbollah of the names of the CIA station chief in Beirut and several other alleged CIA staffers is a serious blow to the US agency's ability to gather intelligence amid what appears to be an intensifying undercover war between the West and Iran, according to a former CIA officer.Skip to next paragraph
“There’s obviously an espionage war going on in Iran. And to lose an asset in the middle of a war like this, I think it’s catastrophic,” says Robert Baer, a former CIA officer who operated in Lebanon in the 1980s.
Iran has been rocked in recent weeks by a series of mysterious explosions at facilities believed to be connected to the Islamic Republic's nuclear and missile production programs, raising speculation that the US and Israel are in the throes of a secret intelligence war against Iran.
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A special report on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television station on Friday listed the names of the alleged CIA station chief in Beirut, along with his predecessor and three CIA officers as well as the nicknames of five other operators.
“The CIA station in Lebanon, through a team of operating officers, executes tasks of recruitment that target all colors of the Lebanese spectrum – government employees, security and official individuals, Lebanese politicians, media people, religious people, social people, bankers, medics, and academics,” Al-Manar said in a report that used cartoons and graphics.
The television report added weight to recent revelations that the CIA was forced to abandon its Lebanon operations after Hezbollah discovered the identity of several spies. In June, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, revealed that at least two members of his organization had been discovered working for the CIA and were arrested.
Nawar Sahili, a Hezbollah MP, said Tuesday that the intelligence war with Israel and the US was ongoing. “We have our tools and we are watching their movements,” he said, adding that Hezbollah would have further revelations to make on the issue.
Baer, who has written three books based on his experiences with the CIA as well as a novel, said that the agency would have to undergo a thorough damage assessment exercise before it could consider resuming intelligence-gathering operations in Lebanon.