BEIRUT (AP) — The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah terrorist group confirmed on Thursday that a senior operative in the organization has been apprehended for spying for Israel.
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said the man in question held a senior position in a “sensitive” Hezbollah security unit and was detained five months ago.
“We consider this to be a very dangerous thing, and we are dealing with it with extreme sensitivity,” Nasrallah said during a three-hour interview with the Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen TV station.
The confirmation comes weeks after local newspapers published unconfirmed reports that a high-level Hezbollah member had been spying for Israel, identifying the suspect as Mohammad Shorba. Nasrallah did not name the alleged spy.
Still, the revelation that Hezbollah had been penetrated by Israeli intelligence is a blow to a group that prides itself on being one of the Mideast’s most secretive and powerful militant organizations.
Some reports have indicated the alleged mole was involved in the deaths of at least two of the group’s leaders — top military commander Imad Mughniyeh, who was killed in a Damascus car bombing in 2008, and senior Hezbollah commander Hassan al-Laqees, who was gunned down in southern Beirut in 2012.
But Nasrallah said the media reports were “very exaggerated,” and added that the mole had “nothing to do with the military structure of the resistance.”
“He is far away from that,” Nasrallah said, adding that the man was in charge of part of a security unit “with a sensitive character” and worked alone. The man has since confessed everything about his collaboration with Israel, Nasrallah said, without elaborating.
Nasrallah said such breaches are to be expected in the ongoing war with Israel.
It is not the first time Hezbollah has acknowledged spies in its midst. But Thursday’s revelation comes as the Shiite Muslim party, a traditional foe of Israel, is mired in fighting alongside President Bashar Assad’s forces in Syria.
In 2011, the militant group bragged it had unmasked at least two CIA spies who had infiltrated the ranks of the organization, which the US considers a terrorist group closely allied with Iran.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press