Hizbullah car-man nabbed as Israeli spy

Islamist group reportedly revamps security following arrest of chief vehicle supplier Marwan Faqih.

nasrallah 248 88 (photo credit: AP [file])
nasrallah 248 88
(photo credit: AP [file])
An automobile dealer is in custody in Lebanon on charges of planting satellite tracking devices for Israel in a fleet of vehicles he provided to Hizbullah members. The Lebanese newspapers Al-Balad and The Daily Star named Marwan Faqih of Nabatiya as the alleged spy, who gained the trust of Hizbullah and became its chief supplier of vehicles. Arrested by the Lebanese Army's Intelligence Service last week, he reportedly was a generous donor to Hizbullah and had lent a gas station to Hizbullah in 2006 during the Second Lebanon War. According to media reports, Faqih's cover was blown after a Hizbullah member took his car to an auto electrician, complaining of problems. The technician found an "unfamiliar device" hooked up to the electrical system, which he initially believed had been installed by Hizbullah. The technician "had a discreet word with the vehicle's owner," reported the Daily Star on Friday, "pointing out that the device was interfering with the car. But whatever it was, it had not been placed by Hizbullah, and a search of the party's fleet of vehicles revealed dozens of the mystery devices. Investigations revealed that they were satellite wiretap devices and they were only present on vehicles supplied from one particular car dealer in Nabatiya: Marwan Faqih." According to Hizbullah sources cited by the Lebanese media, Faqih had been recruited into the Mossad in France during the mid-1990s. He was provided "with specialist software that allowed him to establish secure Internet connections so he could send the intelligence he gathered," the Daily Star said, while "selling bugged cars to Hizbullah that helped Israeli agents to build a picture of movements and conversations of the party's officials." Following Faqih's arrest, Hizbullah launched a large-scale review of its security arrangements, Al-Balad said. The details emerging from the Lebanese media reports appeared to be authentic, Dr. Ely Karmon, senior research scholar at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya, told The Jerusalem Post on Friday. "I don't see why Hizbullah would lie over what is, from their perspective, such an embarrassing issue," said Karmon, an expert on international terrorism and Shi'ite political movements. "Therefore, I assume that the story is true, and it shows that Hizbullah can be penetrated and information on the organization can be collected in a sophisticated manner."