Lebanon misuses French surveillance gear to crack alleged Israel spy rings

debkafile‘s intelligence sources reveal that Lebanon is enabled to crack alleged Israeli spy rings with the help of ultra-sophisticated surveillance equipment recently consigned to Lebanon by French intelligence services. French president Nicolas Sarkozy handed it over against a personal pledge from Lebanese president Michel Suleiman that it would be used exclusively against subversive Syrian and Hizballah targets to help him weather the June 7 general election.
But General Suleiman broke his word.
After their delivery and Lebanese officers were instructed by French technicians in their use, Gen. Ashraf Rifi, head of Lebanon’s General Security Office, had the top-notch surveillance devices installed to snoop on suspected Western and Israeli assets; Syrian or Hizballah agents were left with a clear run.
The General Security Service chief would not have dared act in this way without clear directives from President Suleiman.
Tuesday, June 2, Beirut announced 9 more suspected spies had been detained with another haul of communications equipment and encoded computers. Western intelligence experts say all the Lebanese counter-espionage officers have to do is install the French bugs in one sector after another, wait for it to signal the presence of electronic gear and then pick up its holder. This accounts for their sudden success in rounding up alleged spies. Suspects who have dumped their equipment in time have managed to escape detection.
The harm to Western intelligence from Lebanese president’s breach of promise to Paris has ramifications: Beirut has just passed its findings together with the captured electronic paraphernalia to Syrian and Iranian intelligence, handing them the data for overhauling their defenses against foreign espionage.
Urgent inquiries are now flying between Washington and Paris to find out how Western spy agencies operating in Lebanon came to relax their guard and failed to discover their exposure to the French bugs misused against parties against which Sakrozy meant no harm.
Either way, both Washington and Paris are forced to admit that, in the final reckoning, no office-holder in Lebanon may be trusted.

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