Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hezbollah Captured CIA Moles by Tracking Cellphone Data With Commercially Available Software

The latest story seeping out of the Middle East claims Hezbollah has recently tracked down, arrested and outed a significant, but undislosed, number of American spies working for the CIA. And their techniques for discovering the cloak and daggar operatives? Disconcertingly simple. U.S. officials acknowledged that some CIA operations were suspended in Beirut last summer. It’s unclear whether full operations have resumed. Beirut is considered a key watching post for turmoil in the Middle East.They merely looked for unusual cellphone activity using non-proprietary
software. Using the latest commercial software, Nasrallah's spy-hunters unit began methodically searching for spies in Hezbollah's midst. To find them, U.S. officials said, Hezbollah examined cellphone data looking for anomalies. The analysis identified cellphones that, for instance, were used rarely or always from specific locations and only for a short period of time. Then it came down to old-fashioned, shoe-leather detective work: Who in that area had information that might be worth selling to the enemy?
The effort took years but eventually Hezbollah, and later the Lebanese government, began making arrests. By one estimate, 100 Israeli assets were apprehended as the news made headlines across the region in 2009. Some of those suspected Israeli spies worked for telecommunications companies and served in the military.
The Times is withholding the former station’s chief’s name because he remains undercover. He now has a supervisory role at CIA headquarters in operations targeting Hezbollah. The CIA declined to make him available for comment.
Hezbollah is “an extremely complicated enemy,” the official added. “It’s a determined Fighter group, a power political player, a mighty military and an accomplished intelligence organization — formidable and ruthless. No one underestimates its capabilities.”

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