(photo credit: AP [file])
Lebanon recently dismantled telecommunication networks setup in Beirut illegally by Hizbullah, Lebanese Public Affairs Minister Ghazi El Aridi announced on Wednesday.
Communications Minister Marwan Hamadeh was quoted as saying that the government will continue to operate in other areas where Hizbullah setup communication networks of its own.
Two weeks ago, Lebanese sources reported Hizbullah is setting up an independent wireless phone network throughout southern Lebanon and in Beirut.
Underground cables were recently discovered running parallel to those of the state phone system near Nabatiya in southern Lebanon, according to the reports. Lebanese Communications Minister Marwan Hamadeh slammed Hizbullah for installing the network, saying it violated Lebanese law.
An independent phone network system could pose a challenge to any efforts to gather intelligence from the conversations of Hizbullah guerrillas.
Creating an independent phone network is not difficult as long as money is not an issue, according to Yael Shahar, director of the Database and Open Source Intelligence Project at the International Institute for Counter Terrorism at IDC Herzliya. If the reports are true, Shahar said, the new network could, in theory, prevent Israeli eavesdropping, as well as help Hizbullah counterintelligence operations to ensure that no one within its ranks is a spy.
'This is not rocket science,' she said. 'You can sublease from worldwide networks and build your own network. All you need is money to hire technicians and to buy equipment such as transmitters.'
Yaakov Katz contributed to this article.