Friday, June 24, 2011

Hezbollah members confess to spying for CIA: Nasrallah

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said today that members of his group had confessed to being CIA agents, and accused arch-foe Israel of turning to the US spy agency after failing to infiltrate his party.

The US embassy in Beirut immediately dismissed the accusations as "empty," saying Nasrallah seemed to be "addressing internal problems within Hezbollah."

In the first such acknowledgement of infiltration since the Iranian-backed Shiite group's founding in the 1980s, Nasrallah refused to give the identities of two party members he said were working for the Central Intelligence Agency.

But he said a third case was also under investigation, and slammed the American embassy in Beirut as a "den of spies."

"When the Israeli enemy failed to infiltrate Hezbollah, it turned to the most powerful intelligence agency," he said in a closed-circuit television speech, referring to the CIA.

"Our investigation has found that... (CIA) intelligence officers have recruited two of our members separately, whom we shall not name out of respect for the privacy of their families.

"The first confessed he was recruited five months ago... while the second confessed he had been recruited even before that," he said, adding that the recruiters were CIA agents posing as diplomats at the US embassy east of Beirut.

Nasrallah also said the group was investigating whether the third member of the militant group had been recruited by the CIA, Israel's Mossad or the intelligence service of a European country.

A US embassy spokesperson told AFP there was no substance to Nasrallah's accusations, pointing instead to internal problems within Hezbollah.

"These are the same kinds of empty accusations that we have repeatedly heard from Hezbollah," the US spokesperson said shortly after Nasrallah's speech.

"There is no substance to his accusation," he added. "It appears as if Nasrallah was addressing internal problems within Hezbollah with which we have nothing to do.

"Our position towards Hezbollah is well known and has not changed."

The United States blacklists Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation, Until Obama.

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