MOSCOW, January 6 (Sputnik) — The Deputy Secretary General of the Lebanese political party and militant group Hezbollah appears to have confirmed the arrest of a senior party official on charges of spying for Israel, Lebanon's The Daily Star has reported.
"There is no party in the world as big and sophisticated as Hezbollah that was able to stand with the same steadfastness despite some major infiltrations," Hezbollah's second in command Naim Qassem said, speaking to Hezbollah-affiliated An-Nour radio station over the weekend.
"Hezbollah has worked intensely on battling espionage among its ranks and in its entourage. Some cases [of espionage] have surfaced, [but] they are few in number," the cleric added. He noted that while Hezbollah seeks "purity" among its ranks, it is still an organization made up of human beings and that human beings make mistakes.
Without mentioning him by name, Qassem is believed to have been referring to the arrest of Mohammad Shawraba, who was arrested last month on suspicion of having spied for Mossad since 2007. Shawraba had served as an aide to Hezbollah's leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, and was thought to be in charge of either the leader's security detail or of running the group's foreign operations, The New York Times explained. Qassem's comments are thus far as close as the organization has been willing to come to issuing an official statement regarding the spying allegations.
Qassem noted that Hezbollah is "fully capable" of dealing with the organizational fallout of the affair. Talal al-Atrissi, a Lebanese analyst close to the organization, told the New York Times that the security breach is "a loss but not a substantial loss", given that "the party works in tiny circles, not big circles."
Now set to be tried along with four accomplices in a Hezbollah court, Shawraba has been accused of sabotaging at least five paramilitary operations by the group's Unit 910, charged with "external operations", which aimed at staging revenge attacks on Israeli officials for the 2008 car bombing assassination of Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus. According to The Daily Star, Shawraba may have also been involved in the leaking of information which led to the death of Hassan al-Laqees, another senior Hezbollah commander, in Beirut in 2013.
The New York Times has explained that the spy's outing comes at a time when Hezbollah has been expanding from a tightly-focused anti-Israeli Lebanese militia organization into an group with a much larger mission, including the deployment of thousands of Shiite fighters to assist in the defense of the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
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