Hezbollah’s Spycraft in the Spotlight

Tour bus destroyed by Hezbollah bomb in Burgas, Bulgaria (AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

The ongoing terrorism trial of Hossam Yaakoub in Cyprus may have several consequences, including deciding whether the European Union will declare Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization. Its current impact is to show how much better Hezbollah operatives have gotten at basic covert tradecraft.

A recent Washington Post article about the subject points out that investigations into a series of Hezbollah-linked operations, including the Burgas bus bombing, have uncovered a growing sophistication in how Hezbollah surveils and prepares targets, moves information and infiltrates its operatives into foreign nations. The Party of God has also been recruiting Western citizens (such as Yaakoub, a Swedish citizen of Lebanese descent) and expanding its foreign networks.

For instance,

“After undergoing training in Lebanon, he [Yaakoub] was dispatched on a series of low-level assignments as a courier. He delivered packages and messages to contacts in Turkey, France and the Netherlands. Yaakoub asserted that his key handler always wore a mask and insisted on strict operational security — no cellphones were allowed in meetings, and Yaakoub never knew what was in the packages he delivered.”

Such care and deliberation is a new development. Hezbollah operations over the past few years have emphasized speed over caution, with predictable results.

One of Doha 12’s conceits is that the Hezbollah team dispatched to kill the “Doha 12” copies some of the tradecraft used by Mossad – and is undone by their handler’s emphasis on speed.

One thing to watch for in this article: the author conflates Hezbollah operations with ones carried out by the Iranians, which often makes it hard to tell which assertions apply to which group.

Read the rest of the Post article at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/elaborate-surveillance-operation-raises-concerns-about-broader-hezbollah-attacks/2013/02/26/683da8d6-7d10-11e2-a044-676856536b40_story_1.html.


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