US spies uncovered in sensitive Hizballah positions, claim sources
Sources have alleged that Lebanese militant group Hizballah have uncovered CIA infiltrators - the US' foreign intelligence network - within its ranks.
The claims have not yet been officially denied, confirmed or commented on by the group.
According to sources, the spies were allegedly caught by Hizballah's security apparatus and held important and sensitive security and political positions within the group.
This includes bodyguards for the deputy secretary-general of Hizballah, Naim Qassem, and Mohammad Yazbek, the religious legal representative of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei in Lebanon.
It is also reported that a file was confiscated which is said to belong to another infiltrator who is part of security guarding Sayyed al-Shuhada, a large complex in the southern suburbs if Beirut, which Hizballah uses for political and religious celebrations.
A third infiltrator who was reportedly apprehended was named as Sadeq H. He is said to be one of the officials responsible for the security of the Rassoul al-Aazam Hospital, also in Hizballah's stronghold in south Beirut.
Hizballah officials receive treatment at the hospital and the party's fighters in Syria are usually transferred to the health facility.
The sources accused Sadeq H of collaborating with the US embassy through one of its staff members.
Hizballah say that the infiltrator does not hold any real value for his handlers.
Sources said that Sadeq was one of the people responsible for security at the hospital.
Rassoul al-Aazam is located on the main road to Beirut airport and has been under precautionary security measures for more than three years.
Hizballah established a security belt around the hospital with checkpoints at its entrances.
These security measures were tightened following the bombings that targeted the southern suburbs between 2013 and 2014.
Journalists were also banned from entering the hospital.
According to the sources, Hizballah officials said that the infiltrator was a junior officer in Unit 1000 - the central security unit in the group and responsible for securing party headquarters and centres.
"Sadeq was sacked from his job at the hospital nearly three years ago for disciplinary reasons," the source said.
After unsuccessful attempts to regain his job or be given another position somewhere else to earn a living, the man allegedly approached the US.
Hizballah insiders claim that the US embassy team who recruited him soon realised that he is of no use to them and that the information he would provide could not be relied on.
They also say that the spy had no connection to the medical team or the authority to inspect medical records.
Newspapers reported that he might have had access to medical files on Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. But it is unlikely that he would have been able to access the Hizballah leader's files, which would be closely guarded at the hospital.
Hizballah's unofficial confirmation of Sadeq's arrest comes after reports revealed a sequence of security scandals involving party members.
In December 2014, Hizballah uncovered another spy within its ranks, Mohammad Shawraba, who was allegedly working for Israel's Mossad spy network.
Shawraba was an officer in Hizballah's Unit 910, which is responsible for the party's foreign operations.
Last August another spying case involving Nasser H - who worked as an engineer at a hospital affiliated with Hizballah in Nabatieh, south Lebanon - was uncovered by the party.
The informed sources told al-Araby al-Jadeed that the Hizballah spying cases and security breaches that were discovered "are not as important as the Shawraba and other cases".
In the case, the two security bodies around both Qassem and Yazbek were penetrated.
The latest incident is not considered a serious breach of the either the security of military wings of the party, unlike the Shawraba case.
The roles of the two clerics, Qassem and Yazbek, are purely political, the source said.
Qassem is entrusted with the task of managing Hizballah's electoral machine and Yazbek conducts spiritual meetings and tours with political dimensions.
The former Secretary General of Hizballah, Abbas Musawi, was assassinated by the Israelis in 1992.
It was later claimed that one of his companions was collaborating with Israel.
However, the party leadership has since been able to develop its security and organisational body.
There has been a rise in the number of spies exposed in the past two years as a result of internal party investigations and security cooperation with a variety of official Lebanese agencies.