The hostages from the 1980s have hurt us as a resistance project more than any Israeli bomb, he said, speaking only on the condition of anonymity because he wasnt authorized to talk to a reporter. The idea we would kidnap Americans today in Beirut is ridiculous. We even have a religious ruling that says no targeting civilians.
When he was asked whether Hezbollahs allies among more secular groups in Lebanon would follow such religious edicts, he demurred.
One area of concern to Western intelligence officials in Lebanon which hosts a U.N. peacekeeping force made up of the citizens of a variety of countries, including France, which has called for strikes remains Hezbollah members who are suspected of working directly for Tehran, possibly without notifying their Hezbollah superiors.
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is investigating the 2005 murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in a car bombing that took 20 other lives, has indicted several members of Hezbollah in the bombing, but its also described a semiautonomous unit of Lebanese Shiites within the group who have long-standing ties to Iranian intelligence. Of particular concern to intelligence agents watching over Westerners in Lebanon is Hezbollah commander Mustafa Badreddine, who served a prison sentence in Kuwait for the 1983 bombing of several foreign embassies in Kuwait and is under indictment by the special tribunal.
Hezbollah doesnt need to kidnap anyone, said one Western intelligence official working in Beirut, who asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the topic. Mustafa can handle anything Iran wants without it becoming a big deal, and that doesnt count the groups that are even more obscure. So I have no doubt (Hezbollah chief Hassan) Nasrallah can say his group wasnt involved if something does happen. He could even mean it.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that nonessential U.S. government employees were being evacuated from Iraq.