Israeli spies arrested in Lebanese telecoms industry

Lebanon has arrested a telecoms company transmissions engineer, Tareq Raba, on suspicion of spying for Israel. His arrest follows on the heels of last month’s arrest of Charbel Qazzi, a telecoms technician at the same state-owned cellphone company, Alfa.

It seems very likely that Qazzi gave up Raba’s name during interrogation by Lebanese security and intelligence agents, even though authorities in Lebanon have declined to comment on this point.

They have, however, described Raba as even more of a threat to Lebanon than Qazzi was, who allegedly gave Israel access to the entire company. With this level of access, the Israeli Mossad could reportedly monitor and trace all mobile phone users. Qazzi is also accused of allowing Israel to infect Lebanese communication systems with viruses to paralyze the system and delete entire files of data from it. Of course, this leaves us wondering how Raba could possibly have been “more dangerous.”

Raba, 40, started working for Alfa in 1996 and is accused of spying for Israel since 2001, which upped his income by at least $20,000 a month. A local newspaper reported that he had access to all sorts of confidential technical details, including transmitter locations.

Since April of 2009, Lebanon has made a string of spy arrests. Over 50 Lebanese and Palestinians living in Lebanon have been accused of operating on behalf of Israel, specifically helping Israel to identify targets during the 2006 war with the terrorist group Hezbollah, which is based in Lebanon.

Israel has not commented on the arrests, but Lebanon’s beginning to wonder just how far Israel has managed to infiltrate given that the telecoms companies are so closely connected to and monitored by the government. On the other hand, Lebanon feels its arrests over the past 15 months are sending the right warning signals to Israeli spies and are making dents in Israel’s intelligence pipeline. Furthermore, it seems that Lebanese authorities concur that those convicted of spying for Israel should be sentenced to death.

While the government is busy sending harsh messages, the telecommunications ministry is trying to plug up the leaks in its industry. Apparently a third telecoms spy has been arrested, though details of his identity are not yet available, and a fourth spy fled to Israel to escape arrest.

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