Military "bad option" against Iran
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is welcomed by officials at Tehran's Mehrabad on January 14, 2012 upon his return from a five-day visit to Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and Ecuador. AFP PHOTO/ATTA KENARE
January 17th, 2012
02:15 PM ET

Military "bad option" against Iran

By Mike M. Ahlers

Former CIA acting director John McLaughlin said the U.S. can engage Iran through diplomacy, sanctions or military action, but said military action "would be a very bad option."
Speaking during a panel discussion in Washington, McLaughlin, who served as acting director of the CIA in 2004, said direct military action with Iran could grow to involve Hezbollah, the militant group based in Lebanon.
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Filed under: CIA • Hezbollah • Iran • Nuclear
Iran's new show of force
Iran fires a mid-range missile during its naval exercises in the Persian Gulf
January 3rd, 2012
06:00 AM ET

Iran's new show of force

By CNN's Charley Keyes

Note to American diplomats: An old Iranian saying may carry a message for a new year.

"There's on old Persian expression that when you have a wildcat trapped in a room, you need to leave a door open to let it out," Carnegie Endowment analyst Karim Sadjadpour said.

The New Year has dawned with new saber-rattling from Iranian leaders, new displays of its military hardware and new claims of progress in its nuclear program. All this comes amidst new frustration in the United States about how to tighten the screws on the Iranian economy.

With the U.S. and allies working to isolate Iran's Central Bank and to impose additional restrictions on various high-ranking individuals and institutions, exits are slamming shut.

"The question is: What is the way out for the Iranian regime?" Sadjadpour said. "Can the Obama administration allow the Iranian regime a diplomatic way out in order for it to save face?"

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Ahmadinejad • Foreign Policy • Hezbollah • Iran • Israel • Middle East • Nuclear • Sanctions
December 13th, 2011
10:26 PM ET

Hezbollah claims to reveal 10 CIA spies in Lebanon

By Dugald McConnell and Brian Todd

The militant group Hezbollah claims it has blown the cover of 10 alleged CIA officers working in Lebanon.

In the latest round of an escalating spy war, Hezbollah's media arm, al Manar, posted a video Friday accusing the CIA of running espionage operations from the diplomatic cover of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.  It discloses the alleged names of the current CIA station chief (including his birthdate), the former station chief, and three other officers, as well as code names for five others.

If those are indeed the names of CIA officers, their covert abilities have been compromised, and they will likely leave the country, according to two former CIA agents.

"The truth is, almost everybody probably knows who the station chief in Beirut is - at least if you're the bad guy," said former CIA officer Reuel Marc Gerecht.  But if the identities of officers have been publicly revealed, he said, "they (agency officials) most definitely yank you." FULL POST

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Filed under: CIA • Hezbollah • Intelligence • Lebanon
Iraq detainee accused of killing U.S. soldiers may go free
November 30th, 2011
07:38 PM ET

Iraq detainee accused of killing U.S. soldiers may go free

By Tim Lister

Ali Mussa Daqduq – a Lebanese militant accused of involvement in the murder of several U.S. soldiers in Iraq – has been in U.S. military detention in Iraq since 2007. But not for much longer. As the last U.S. forces depart Iraq, Daqduq may soon go free, without facing trial.

The Iraqis have given no indication that they will allow Daqduq to be taken out of the country and the case has become a tug-of-war between Iraq and the Obama Administration. The prospect that Daqduq – a veteran operative of the Lebanese Hezbollah militia – may escape U.S. justice altogether has infuriated members of Congress. And even if the Iraqis agree to let him leaves with his captors, just how and where he would face trial is another political minefield for the Justice Department.

Daqduq was accused of organizing a kidnapping in the Iraqi city of Karbala in January 2007 that left five U.S. soldiers dead. After he was captured some months later, according to U.S. intelligence officials, Daqduq pretended to be a deaf-mute. But officials identified him as a 24-year veteran of Hezbollah who had commanded a special operations unit and been sent to Iraq to develop “Special Groups” within Shi’ite militia. They said he admitted working with the Quds Force, a branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. U.S. military intelligence contended the Quds force was using Hezbollah as a surrogate in Iraq. FULL POST


Filed under: Hezbollah • Iraq • Military • Quds Force
Hezbollah uncovers CIA informants
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah
November 21st, 2011
02:39 PM ET

Hezbollah uncovers CIA informants

By Senior National Security Producer Pam Benson

CIA informants in Lebanon were unmasked by Hezbollah and captured by the terror group, CNN has been told. One of the means used by Hezballah counter terrorism operatives to identify the foreign assets was to trace their cell phone calls.

A US official would not discuss the details of how many CIA informants might have been affected and the degree of impact on Central Intelligence Agency operations in Beirut. The official called spying a "perilous business."

“Collecting sensitive information on adversaries-who are aggressively trying to uncover spies in their midst-will always be fraught with risk.  Good CI (counterintelligence) can mitigate risks, but won't eliminate them all," the source said.

The official says Hezballah has a very capable intelligence component and cannot be underestimated. FULL POST

The inner workings of Hezbollah
Shiite Muslim pilgrims affiliated to Hezbollah take part in rituals on January 25, 2011.
November 3rd, 2011
03:22 PM ET

The inner workings of Hezbollah

Nicholas Blanford's new book , Warriors of God: Inside Hezbollah’s Thirty-Year Struggle Against Israel takes an exclusive look at the group - based on over ten years of reporting in Lebanon and what he says is unprecedented access to Hezbollah’s leaders, commanders, and fighters.   A resident of Lebanon since 1994, Nicholas Blanford is a regular contributor to Time magazine and IHS/Jane's Information Group publications as well as the Beirut correspondent for The Times of London and Christian Science Monitor.

Blanford spoke with CNN's Nicole Dow about his new book.

SECURITY CLEARANCE: How did you gain such exclusive access to Hezbollah?

BLANFORD: It's the result of following the organization for 16 years, specifically their military activities from the mid-1990s, when they were confronting Israel's occupation of south Lebanon, and on to the present day. Over time, it's natural that you build contacts. Technically, Hezbullah members should not talk to foreigners, let alone foreign journalists without authorization. But over the years, trust developed and they became accustomed to me. Mind you, what grassroots cadres reveal to me is a fraction of what they really know, but it's still more than they give to other people. FULL POST

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Filed under: Author • Hezbollah • Iran • Israel • Lebanon • Middle East • Syria
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