A group of at least a dozen CIA spies working in Iran and Lebanon have been captured, leading US government officials to surmise that the intelligence failure has – or will – lead to their deaths and the debilitation of intelligence in the two countries.
The spies are thought to have been local paid informants providing intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program and terror organization Hizbullah’s operations in Lebanon.
Hizbullah is responsible for more killing of Americans than any other terror group prior to 9/11, having killed almost 260 Americans in an attack on the US embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983. It is also one of the foremost military threats to Israel.
In Beirut, Hizbullah double agents posing as CIA spies were able to determine the secret code of a meeting spot of CIA agents in the area. The code word “pizza” led them to a Beirut Pizza Hut. From that location, the double agents were able to uncover at least a dozen informants, as well as several CIA handlers. This despite several warnings issued to CIA officers that the operation could be comprised by taking multiple assets to the same location to meetings, according to a report by ABC News.
In Teheran, intelligence agents discovered several websites disguised as business sites used by the US to communicate with CIA operatives. US officials have confirmed that an Iranian TV broadcast displaying still photographs of the websites was accurate, and that the sites were indeed used by the CIA for espionage in Iran. As many as several dozen informants may have been uncovered there.
Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, leader of Hizbullah, announced in June that two high-ranking Hizbullah officials had been exposed as CIA spies, leading US officials to suspect that its whole network of spies inside the organization had been uncovered.
While some analysts stress that espionage comes with necessary risks and the potential for being exposed, others say the American intelligence community has become slipshod and subpar.