WikiLeaks: Iran financed Hizbullah fiber optics network

Lebanese minister: Shi'ite group said it would view cutting of lines as "Israeli attack"; calls move last step in creating Hizbullah nation-state.

Hizbullah Rockets 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Hizbullah Rockets 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Hizbullah has established its own fiber optics communications network in Lebanon, funded by Iran and independent of the Lebanese communications system, reported a US cable published on WikiLeaks Sunday, quoting a Lebanese minister as declaring this a Hizbullah move to create a state-within-a-state.
The cable, written on April 16, 2008, by Michele Sison, the US embassy’s charge d’affaires in Beirut, was based on a meeting she had with Lebanese Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh. She wrote that Hamadeh, who had requested “a special meeting,” had opened it by declaring, “Iran Telecom is taking over the country!” Hamadeh said the importance of the move for Hizbullah was that it was “the final step in creating a nation state. Hizbullah now has an army and weapons; a television station; an education system; hospitals; social services; a financial system; and a telecommunications system.”
Hamadeh also described the network as “a strategic victory for Iran, since it creates an important Iranian outpost in Lebanon, bypassing Syria.”
Fiber optics is a means of transmitting telephone and cable television signals, and Internet communications.
According to the information in the cable, the Lebanese government told the country’s friends – France, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates – about the situation. Hamadeh was reported to have said that Lebanon could either turn to the UN Security Council over the matter, or have “friendly municipalities” cut the lines. He doubted, however, that the Lebanese internal security forces or the Lebanese army had the “guts” to do so, having been warned that Hizbullah would view this as “equal to an Israeli act of aggression” and take action against the Lebanese government in return.
The cable said that two senior Lebanese military officials had met a Hizbullah liaison and asked him to dismantle part of the network, which Hizbullah refused to do, saying the network was part of “Hizbullah’s ability to defend Lebanon.”
Hamadeh accused the “Iranian Fund for the Reconstruction of Lebanon” of funding the network.
This group, according to the cable, has been rebuilding roads and bridges since the 2006 Second Lebanon War and has previously been accused of installing telecommunication lines in parallel with new roads.
Sison said “it appears that by sharing as widely as possible the details of the plan, the GOL [Government of Lebanon] may hope that someone else will take on the challenge” of dismantling the network.