Iran’s ambassador in Beirut has got the jitters. Just imagine the Iranians being scared of an embassy hostage-taking seizure. The Islamic revolution’s founder, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who ordered the US embassy in Tehran stormed by his zealots, would have seen the irony.
Monday, July 24, the Iranian ambassador Mohammad-Reza Raouf-Sheibani invited a number of correspondents to inform them in typically pompous Iranian language: “We have stepped up security measures around our embassy. Let the forces of malice beware of harming us. The Iranian embassy is one of the few missions still functioning in Beirut. And it will continue to do so.”
What he was trying to say was that he suspected Israel and the United States of secretly conspiring to raid his embassy.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s sources in the Lebanese capital say the ambassador is seriously afraid the Israelis will raid is embassy since he received a top secret report from Iranian agents in Washington, who claimed that Israeli special units were planning to seize the Beirut embassy for two missions: to capturing the senior Hizballah officers conducting the war against Israel from this sanctuary and to recover the two Israeli soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, concealed there since they were kidnapped on July 12.
The unconfirmed report, according to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources, claims the hostages cannot be moved out of the embassy because all the roads leading to Syria are under the eye of Israeli spy planes and bombers.
The top-secret report prompted a major security boost at the Beirut embassy. Iranian security services leapt into action assigning two Iranian Revolutionary Guards elite units numbering 51 men to deploy in Beirut and bolster the embassy guard detail. Three Hizballah commando units were drafted to build barricades in neighboring houses and rooftops in order to intercept any approaching Israeli raiders. The RG troops were flown from Tehran to Cyprus and cut across the sea to the Syrian port of Latakia aboard fast boats chartered by the Iranian embassy in Nicosia.
They entered North Lebanon from Syria Monday, July 24, and headed south to Beirut, in small groups and by side-roads so as not attract the attention of Israeli warplanes and helicopters overhead.
The top secret report from Washington offered some details of the purported Israeli scheme. An elite unit was to land by sea at the Christian port of Junia north of Beirut and be kept in hiding with friendly Christian militiamen pending their next instructions.
They commandos were to enter the capital among the foreign aid workers streaming to Beirut.
The next part of the alleged plan, according to the information reaching Tehran, was for Israel to direct heavy artillery fire on the buildings next door to the Iranian embassy. Under cover of this barrage, the special units would move into the embassy compound, overpower the security guards and Hizballah units, dive into the building and snatch the two Israeli soldiers. The Hizballah commanders would be taken into custody.
The only part of this tall story verified by DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence sources is the apprehension of Israeli and American intelligence that the two Israeli soldiers may indeed have fallen into Iranian hands and are held at the Beirut embassy.
The other elements of the so-called Israeli scheme, brought to the knowledge of the Pentagon and leaked to Iranian agents, look like disinformation designed to scare the Iranians and obstruct the functioning of their embassy in Beirut. They have turned their diplomatic mission into the coordinating center between Hizballah’s war offensive operation and Tehran. It is also used by Hizballah and Hamas as headquarters for managing their war operations in tandem.
Israeli air strikes hit Hizballah banks, war funds targeted
So fearful are they by now, that the embassy was told to get rid of intelligence documents, especially those recording Iranian-Hizballah collusion, and either send them to Tehran or burn them.
The Iranians have every reason to fear their secrets falling into hostile hands. Some of the documents also list the identities of hundreds of Iranian agents spread out in Lebanon and rendering logistical aid and military training to Hizballah and other terrorist organizations, like the Palestinian Hamas and Jihad Islami.
They first started getting jumpy on July 22, when Israeli warplanes, together with other targets, bombed a number of banks in Beirut and the Hizballah stronghold of Baalbek and set them on fire. At first they wondered if the Israeli air force had not hit the banks by mistake, confusing them with Hizballah command centers or ammunition stores. But then they discovered that Hizballah owned or managed the targeted banks and kept large sums on deposit there.
The Lebanese government kept the raids to itself fearing further damage to the reputation of its banking system and economy which are already reeling from the war crisis. But Lebanese prime minister Fouad Siniora confided the information to US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice when they met in Beirut on July 24.
Our sources report that Iran is now having big trouble transmitting large amounts of money to Hizballah in Beirut to fund its war expenses. The Lebanese terrorists are short of cash even to pay their fighters next week.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources report that Israeli special forces have spread out across villages and towns to blow up and set fire to addresses tagged by Israeli intelligence as caches of large sums of cash. Their mission is to choke off Hizballah’s flow of funds for its war effort.
The Iranian government spokesman Ghola-Hossein Elham keeps on denying that Iran is sending volunteers to Lebanon or rendering any kind of logistical aid to the Hizballah in Lebanon. He insists that the only assistance coming from Tehran is moral.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources note that Iranian leaders have become wary of being too blatantly implicated in the conflict and its fallout lest Israel carry the day. They fear that if Hizballah takes a beating, it will reflect on the stability of the Islamic revolutionary regime in Tehran, quite aside from the disastrous consequences for the Palestinian cause and their own creation, the Palestinian Jihad Islami.
A number of Iranian newspapers have indirectly criticized the regime for its excessive aid to Hizballah as jeopardizing the national interest. Articles in this vein appeared in the reformist newspaper Aftab-e-Yazd (Sun City of Yazd) and also Shargh (The East), which implicitly accused the Islamic regime of disseminating false information about Hizballah’s triumphs and Israeli reverses.