lebanese army 224 88.
(photo credit: AP)
The Lebanese Al-Akhbar newspaper revealed more details Friday about the alleged spy ring accused of passing information to Israel.
The paper said that the chief suspect, retired Lebanese general Adib Alam, along with his wife, received thousands of dollars for information they sent to their handlers on Syrian and Lebanese military and civilian sites, some of which were bombed by Israel during the Second Lebanon War.
Lebanese security sources told the newspaper that Alam, a Christian from Ramish, had passed several courses in Israel for operating spy equipment and that authorities seized various communications devices in his home, including an advanced GPS device hidden inside a mini-bar.
Lebanese detectives reportedly decoded four messages, one in which Adib expressed fears that he would be exposed.
Authorities also reportedly found a camera with which Alam would allegedly send pictures via satellite.
Al-Akhbar said that Alam was recruited by another agent, Nicola Habib, a south Lebanon resident, and that he admitted to meeting his handlers in Europe.
A security source told the paper that Alam was a "big fish" and predicted that his interrogation would reveal "valuable and sensitive information."
The source said Alam's role was to collect information with Israelis carrying out surveillance in the area east of Beirut and south of the Litani River.
Alam is accused of using his business, which managed foreign domestic workers, as a front for his alleged espionage activities.
Local media reported on Thursday that Alam's nephew, G. Alam, a General Security Department corporal, was arrested earlier this week in the south Lebanese town of Naqoura for allegedly belonging to the spy network.
Authorities also raided his home, located in another province, and retrieved a computer, according to the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper.
"We are facing a professional and well-trained network, even while it is being discovered, and as a result, the investigation will take a long time," a security source told the Lebanese As-Safir newspaper on Thursday.
The spy ring may not be limited to espionage activities, but might also be engaged in carrying out missions, he said.
Hizbullah's deputy secretary-general, Naim Qassem, called the arrest of Adib Alam a major achievement for security forces.
"Preliminary information indicates he had been working as a spy for Israel for over 25 years and retired from his position in national security eight years ago," Qassem told AFP.
Since the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Lebanese officials say Israel has continued to recruit and operate spies. Several arrests were announced in November and February.
Last year, for instance, two people were arrested for allegedly trying to pass information to the Mossad about a range of Lebanese activities, both via pictures of military and civilian installations and through verbal contact.
Israel does not generally comment on Lebanese allegations of its spying activities.