Hezbollah Secretary-Genereal Hassan Nasrallah on Friday announced that members of his militant movement had confessed to being CIA agents and accused arch-foe Israel of turning to the US spy agency when it failed to infiltrate his Iran-backed party.
In the first such acknowledgment of infiltration since the group's founding in the 1980's, Nasrallah refused to disclose the identities of the two party members but said a third case was under investigation, slamming the US embassy in Lebanon as a "den of spies."
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"When the Israeli enemy failed to infiltrate Hezbollah, it turned to the most powerful intelligence agency," Nasrallah said in a closed-circuit television speech broadcast in Lebanon, referring to the Central Intelligence Agency.
"Our investigation has found that... intelligence officers (in the CIA) have recruited two of our members separately, whom we shall not name out of respect for the privacy of their families," he added.
"The first confessed he was recruited five months ago... while the second confessed he had been recruited even before that," he said, adding that the recruiters were CIA agents posing as diplomats at the US embassy east of Beirut.
Israel-Lebanon border (Photo: AP)
Nasrallah also said the group was investigating whether the third member of the party had been recruited by the CIA, Israel's Mossad or the intelligence service of a European country.
The Shiite leader, whose party is blacklisted as a terrorist group by the United States, insisted however that the alleged agents had not been involved in the 2008 assassination of top Hezbollah operative Imad Mughnieh in Damascus.
Hezbollah has openly accused Israel of the bombing that killed Mughnieh and vowed to avenge his death. The Jewish state has denied responsibility.
A US embassy spokesperson responded to Nasrallah's charges, calling them "empty accusations.
"These are the same kinds of empty accusations that we have repeatedly heard from Hezbollah," the spokesperson told AFP shortly after Nasrallah made the allegations in a televised speech.
"There is no substance to his accusation," he added. "It appears as if Nasrallah was addressing internal problems within Hezbollah with which we have nothing to do.
"Our position towards Hezbollah is well known and has not changed."
Nasrallah on Friday said two members of his Shiite militant movement had confessed to being CIA agents and accused arch-foe Israel of turning to the US spy agency after itself failing to infiltrate his Iran-backed party.
Nasrallah also said the group was investigating whether a third member of the party had been recruited by the CIA, Israel's Mossad or the intelligence service of a European country.
It was the first such acknowledgment of infiltration by Hezbollah, which prides itself on the discipline of its members, since its establishment in the 1980s.
Washington blacklists Iranian- and Syrian-backed Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation.
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