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CIA spy rings uncovered in Iran and Lebanon

The United States has suffered a huge security setback after several CIA operatives in two distinct networks were captured by Iran and Hezbollah. The informants are feared dead.

In this file photo made available by the Hezbollah Media Office, Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, is seen in Beirut, Thursday June 21, 2007.
In this file photo made available by the Hezbollah Media Office, Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, is seen in Beirut, Thursday June 21, 2007.
Image: AP Photo/Hezbollah Media Office

MAJOR CIA NETWORKS operating in Iran and Lebanon have been infiltrated and their agents uncovered, US officials have confirmed.

Several informants are now missing and feared dead.

Officials said several foreign spies working for the CIA had been captured by Hezbollah in Lebanon in recent months. The blow to the CIA’s operations in Lebanon came after top agency managers were alerted last year to be especially careful handling informants in the Middle East country.

Hezbollah’s longtime leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, boasted in June on television he had unmasked at least two CIA spies who had infiltrated the ranks of the organisation, which the United States considers a terrorist group.

Officials admitted that laziness and poor practices had led to the discovery of informants, however an anonymous official also told Reuters that Hezbollah was a force to be reckoned with: “Hezbollah is an extremely complicated enemy… It’s a determined terrorist group, a power political player, a mighty military, and an accomplished intelligence organisation formidable and ruthless. No one underestimates its capabilities.”

CIA officials also confirmed that Iranian counterintelligence officers have unmasked a number of alleged operatives, Iranian state news network Press TV reports.

New sanctions

Meanwhile, the United States yesterday announced a new set of sanctions against Iran in an effort to apply greater pressure to get Tehran to halt its suspected nuclear weapons program.

The new sanctions, which were coordinated with Britain and Canada, build on elements of previous sanction efforts. The efforts announced Monday:

  • Use a section of the Patriot Act to identify for the first time Iran’s entire banking sector, including the country’s central bank, as a threat to other governments and institutions. The designation of Iran as a “primary money laundering concern” will require increased monitoring by US banks to make sure that they and their foreign affiliates are avoiding all contact with Iranian financial institutions – the US was joined in this action by Britain and Canada
  • Impose sanctions on Iran’s petrochemical industry, prohibiting US companies from providing goods, services and technology to support Iran’s production of petrochemicals. This industry represents Iran’s second biggest export after crude oil
  • Expands existing energy sanctions with the aim of making it more difficult for Iran to operate, maintain and modernise its oil and gas sector
  • Designates 11 individuals and business entities for sanctions because of their alleged roles in assisting Iran’s prohibited nuclear programs.

Additional reporting by the AP

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