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Excellent News, Smithers!

Hezbollah’s chief financial officer and the head of its internal communications department has just fled to Israel with $5 million in cash and a nice thick sheaf of classified documents. Al-Arabiya has a report from a local Lebanese news site:

The news website, Now Lebanon, cited Hezbollah officials saying that the 29-year old telecommunication engineer, Hassan Fahs, has crossed to Israel carrying with him $5 million in embezzled money from the group. Fahs is also head of Hezbollah’s operational communications network.

It’s not easy to figure out exactly what happened, but at one point something like 20 Iranian police officials tried to stop this enterprising young man from leaving Beirut. They failed.

We hope the Israelis are able to make good use of this material, and we note that the Saudi owned Al-Arabiya does not seem particularly displeased at this Israeli success against Iran and its allies.

Those who think that the struggle against Iran’s nuclear ambitions is just an Israeli problem need to remember that this is an Arab issue as much as it is an Israeli one. Iran’s power and ambitions frighten all the neighbors: Turks, Arabs and Jews don’t agree on much, but they all think Tehran is up to no good.

UPDATE: The Times of Israel says that Israeli officials deny the Arabiya story and that no such defection has occurred. All kinds of scenarios now suggest themselves. Could this be an act of disinformation by the Saudis or someone else hoping to cause trouble in Hezbollah and between it and Iran? Is is a devious move in some kind of internal Hezbollah power competition? Could the story be true, and Israeli intelligence is denying it because that’s the kind of things intelligence agencies do in situations like this one? Or was the Lebanese news source that broke the story misinformed? The fog around this story may dissipate or it may not; mysteries abound where conflicts run hot.

But one thing we do know from all this: a Saudi owned news outlet was willing to run with a thinly sourced story that put Hezbollah and Iran in a bad light. Israeli efforts to knock Iran back a few steps can expect some significant if quiet regional support.



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