CIA Spies Captured in Middle East

Officials fear they will be executed

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 21, 2011 8:47 AM CST

(Newser) – More than a dozen CIA spies have been caught in Lebanon and Iran over the last six months, and the US worries they’ll be executed—or already have been. "If they were genuine spies, spying against Hezbollah, I don't think we'll ever see them again," an ex-CIA officer tells ABC News. The capture of the spies—who ABC describes as paid informants recruited by the CIA—marks a major setback for US intelligence efforts related to Hezbollah's plans and Iran's nuclear ambitions. And while some insiders point to the inherent risk of such work, others say "sloppy" methods are partially to blame.

“We were lazy and the CIA is now flying blind against Hezbollah,” says one former official. Hezbollah reportedly used double agents to discover the location where intelligence officials were meeting: a Beirut Pizza Hut. They soon started to "roll up" the US spy operation. Meanwhile, Iranian intelligence officials uncovered the online communication method that CIA-funded spies in that country used; it’s not yet clear how many were compromised, though it may have been dozens. Iran and Hezbollah leaders announced their infiltration of US intelligence months ago, but few paid attention at the time, ABC notes.

Hezbollah fighters parade during a rally this month.
Hezbollah fighters parade during a rally this month.   (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
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