Serving senior and former U.S. intelligence officials said that this
latest Israeli onslaught against the Hizballah will work to further
undermine Tel Aviv’s security in the near future.
They said that the American public and especially officials in the Bush
administration appear to be laboring under several potentially disastrous
illusions regarding the Israeli-Hizballah fighting.
One of the first of these is that Hizballah can be uprooted and destroyed.
On the contrary, they insisted that it is an integral part of Lebanese society and an authentic
representative of the Shia population and cannot be gotten rid of by
bombing installations or capturing some strong points.
They also insisted that HIzballah is NOT a puppet of Iran. One former very
senior CIA official told me that Iran did NOT want this current upsurge in
violence, nor had Iran given any previous green light for the kidnapping
of the Israeli soldiers’ Magnus Ranstorp, a British expert on Hizballah
said in an e-mail to me that Nasserallah (sic) made the decision himself, an
opinion which four former or serving U.S. government officials agreed
with. Ranstorp said there are two Iranian representatives from the Iranian
Embassy in Beirut that provide a direct link for matters that require
strategic guidance but said Nasserallah was the source of the kidnap
decision.Both Ranstorp and U.S. officials believe the notorious Imad
Mughniyeh who belongs both to the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and
Security (MOIS) and HIzballah, had a part in the implementation of the
decision but was not the author of it.
Israel and U.S. intelligence on HIzballah has displayed some shocking
failures, especially with Tel Aviv and Washington apparently ignorant that
Iran had supplied Hizballah with an upgraded Silkworm antis-hip missile which severely damaged an
Israeli warship. In addtion, intelligence about Hizballah installations on the ground
has also been inadequate in many cases, they said.
The destruction of Lebanon’s infrastructure has incredibly damaged the
image of the United States in the Arab world. In fact, the popular hatred
of the United States in such moderate Arab countries such as Egypt and Jordan
resulted in the leaders of those countries informing Condi Rice that she
was not welcome there, which was why the summit took place in Rome.
These U.S. intelligence officials believe that Hizballah will continue to
fire missiles at Israeli targets and expect that within the next few days
Tel Aviv itself could be hit by Hizballah long range missiles supplied by Iran.
Former CIA chief of counterterrorism Vince Cannistraro, confirmed that many members of
the Shia government in Iraq have or had ties to Hizballah and used to
reside in south Beirut. The first former CIA official to assert this was BoB Baer. Others now are coming out publicly to make the same point.
Also, Cannistraro confirmed that Hizballah has training camps in the Bekaa
valley and has had them for decades, and another U.S. source pointed out that
such an assertion is contained in the State Department’s own publications
on terrorist organizations. I include this last because some question the existence of such camps. Yet former U.S. intelligence officials like Cannnistraro, former CIA official Larry Johnson and others confirmed that the camps are there.