Hizbullah sets up independent wireless phone network
Could pose challenge to intelligence-gathering efforts.
By YAAKOV KATZ
Hizbullah is setting up an independent wireless phone network throughout southern Lebanon and in Beirut, according to Lebanese news reports.
Underground cables were recently discovered running parallel to those of the state phone system near Nabatiya in southern Lebanon, according to the reports. On Wednesday, Lebanese Telecommunications 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."
The IDF has its own internal and encrypted cellular phone system called Vered Harim.
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