The Lebanese army has uncovered an espionage ring operated by Israel for many years, the country's a-Safir daily news reported. The report said it was the second such ring discovered in two years. The other alleged spy network was exposed in 2006.
The daily reported that Lebanese intelligence began gathering information on the suspected spies after the Second Lebanon War, in an attempt to expose agents collaborating with Israeli intelligence in different areas of the country. The information led to the arrest of the main suspect in the case, A.G.
The alleged spy is a resident of one of the country's western Beqaa Valley villages. Since the '80s he has been known for his political relations with various Palestinian organizations, which allowed him diplomatic freedom of movement within Lebanon. According to the allegations, he has been collaborating with Israel since that time.
A.G's home was searched, and witnesses reported that security officials broke into his apartment and confiscated his vehicle. Security forces reported after searching the car that a highly advanced camera able to photograph minute details was found within.
Witnesses said the man had been in contact with a number of agents, and that his missions included driving through roadways connecting Lebanon with Syria, occasionally stopping to photograph sensitive areas.
Sources familiar with the case told the paper that one of the man's family members has also been detained, and admitted to collaborating with Israeli intelligence agents. He said he had been charged with a number of reconnaissance tasks including roadways, convoys, and military bases.
During the interrogation the main suspect admitted to have enlisted a number of agents and documents confiscated from his home testify to his involvement in the ring, as well as his use of high-tech means to keep in touch with Israeli operators, the report added.
Sources said the network has been operating for over 20 years, and was responsible for mapping out the Beqaa Valley, including Syrian military bases and Palestinian sites. Recently, a-Safir reported, the spies have been pursuing Hizbullah operatives and outposts.
The ring was said to have operated in Syria as well, where it is suspected to have mapped out areas in Damascus such as Kfar Sousa, the secure neighborhood in which Hizbullah leader Imad Mugniyah was killed in February by a car bomb.
Investigators are currently attempting to link the espionage ring to Mugniyah's murder, as well as to divine its function in the transfer of information to Israel, the report said.