The extraordinary admission by Hizballah’s No. 2 official, Sheikh Naim Qassem, Monday, Jan. 5, that the organization is “battling espionage within its ranks and has uncovered some major infiltrations” attested to the panic within the Lebanese Shiite group over the discovery of a mole within its ranks.
Last week, the arrest of the deputy head of Hizballah’s “external operations” Unit 910, Mohammad Shawraba, 42, set off a cloud of scrappy rumors – like, for instance, that Shawraba was recruited by the Israeli Mossad and paid a million dollars for a steady stream of information; or that he was also responsible for the Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s security; or that he leaked data on one of the organization’s most secret figures, Hassan al-Laqees.
debkafile’s sources describe Laqees as having run the joint cyber war conducted by Hizballah and Iran from Beirut. He was assassinated on Dec. 4, 2013 by unidentified gunmen. The Shiite organization accused Israel of his death.
None of these reports have been verified. At the same time, intriguing light was shed on the truth by by Naim Qassem in an enigmatic remark that “while Hizballah aims for purity, it is made up of human beings who can make mistakes.”
This uncharacteristic tolerance was actuated, debkafile’s counter-terror and intelligence sources report, by the fact that none of Hizballah’s top men, including the man accused of betraying its secrets, has been able to plumb the shadows to discover the destination of the most sensitive data he betrayed on Hizballah’s internal security and external terrorist systems. This episode is turning into one of the most baffling spy stories to date.
Here are some of the facts garnered by our sources:
Contrary to his published job description, Mohammed Shawrab’s last assignment before his arrest was to manage Hizballah’s straw companies in Italy and Spain. Through them, he organized the purchase of arms, the smuggling and laundering of funds and the acquisition of technical and electronic equipment for Iran.
He was wont to conduct his business at frequent meetings in smart restaurants and night clubs.
The Hizballah executive quickly developed a taste for the bright lights and high life of Europe. He soon found that beautiful young girls were useful bait for promoting business.
This was what Sheikh Qassam meant when he spoke of “purity” of purpose and the human aptitude to “make mistakes.”
According to debkafile’s sources, Shawrab’s high-living career in Europe spanned nine years, from mid-2000 to December 2014.
But while still riding high, he was snared in 2005, by one of the good-time girls he used to catch business contacts. He fell for her, had her move into his villa and made her his constant companion on his travels and business engagements.
In 2007, the Hizballah official and the woman were secretly married.
From that time on, he fully shared his clandestine life with his wife, spilling everything he knew about the organization he served into her willing ears.
He never informed his bosses about his mistress or that they were married.
It came to light when he was brought to Beirut last year and faced interrogation. Hizballah lost no time and sent agents at once to the last places she was seen in Europe. But the trail was cold. The femme fatale had vanished without a trace or the slightest clue to whom she worked for.
Hizballah and the Iranian agents who joined the extensive hunt were forced to conclude that the mysterious spy, having performed her mission with high success, had long since been whisked to safety by her handlers. In possession of their innermost secrets, she had left behind nothing but a trail of enigmas about who they were and her identity.
The case of Shawrab was distinguished by his having acted as a mole without knowing who his employers were.
Naim Qassem was therefore in the awkward position of admitting to a grave penetration of Hizballah ranks while carefully stepping around the naming of the spy agency which had trapped his close associate into betrayal by means of a classical epsionage seduction ploy.