Lebanese officials have confirmed that they were tipped-off about a possible bomb attack in Beirut by the CIA.
It is likely that the targets were senior and high-ranking Hezbollah officials. The CIA tip helped foil the plot. Islamist groups operating along the Syrian-Lebanese border are believed that have wanted revenge for Hezbollah’s role in the re-taking of Al-Qusayr by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. Hezbollah is a staunch ally of Syria’s belligerent president and the battle of Al-Qusayr was the first time Hezbollah actively and openly fought alongside Assad’s forces. Hezbollah justified their involvement by saying that they were defending the Arab world against the "same Zionist plot," and that the "road to Jerusalem passes through Al-Qusayr."
According to Lebanese officials, the CIA Beirut station chief passed on information obtained by the National Security Agency (NSA) to Lebanese intelligence, with the "understanding" that it would be passed onto Hezbollah. U.S. law prohibits direct contact between U.S. officials and the militant Lebanese Shia organization. It’s alleged that groups "linked" to Al-Qaeda were planning to assassinate senior Hezbollah officials. Hezbollah acknowledged the warning and tightened security in Al-Dahiyya, a Hezbollah controlled suburbs in Beirut. One Hezbollah internal security commander told the Olympian, “Yes, a warning came from the CIA. They passed us the information thought the Mukhabarat (Military Intelligence), but we had our own information about the bombs."
The U.S. government has not yet commented on the matter, but Lebanese officials have said, that the NSA had intercepted phone calls being made by Al-Qaeda suspects based in Syria, Lebanon and an unnamed Gulf country. The information provided included location of potential suspects and movement of military-grade explosives. The Lebanese army carried out raids in the city of Aarsal, in-which, a number of different Arab nationals, including some from the Gulf, were arrested and explosive equipment sized. As a result of the information, Hezbollah has been conducting, overt security patrols and detaining suspicious people,likelySyrians.
The revelations come as the Pakistani Taliban announced that have sent fighters to Syria and the U.S. announced its decision to withhold arms to the Syrian opposition. It also adds an ironic twist, that the NSA’s mass snooping program is helping, a group on the State Departments Terrorism list. Some commentators have suggested that the CIA is being pragmatic and they feared that an attack on Hezbollah- would lead to an attack on American interests in Lebanon. Hezbollah runs a highly sophisticated counter-espionage and counter-intelligence program. In 2011, the CIA was forced to curb activities in Lebanon because Hezbollah had rumbled and arrested CIA operatives in the country. An attack on Hezbollah could have lead to dire consequences for the CIA, as the U.S. is seen as the main backers of Syrian rebels. It remains to be seen whether or not, this will lead to more co-operation between the two in the future. What is certain is that these revelations will make the Syrian opposition and Tel-Aviv nervous.