The militant group Hezbollah has revealed the identities of CIA officers working undercover in Lebanon, a blow to agency operations in the region and the latest salvo in an escalating spy war.
Hezbollah made the names public in a broadcast on Friday night on a Lebanese television station, al-Manar. Using animated videos, the station recreated meetings between CIA officers and paid informants at Starbucks and Pizza Hut.
Hezbollah managed to partially unravel the agency's spy network in Lebanon after running a double agent against the CIA, former and current US intelligence officials said.
In June, the Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, bragged that his group had identified at least two spies working for the CIA. It is not clear whether one of those spies was, in fact, the same double agent working for Hezbollah, which is considered a terrorist group by the US. Sheikh Nasrallah has called the US embassy in Beirut a "den of spies".
The fiasco happened despite top CIA officials being warned to be extra careful when handling informants after Hezbollah and Lebanese officials arrested scores of Israeli spies in 2009.
The outing of the officers is particularly damaging because it will hinder the ability of these CIA employees to work overseas again. The CIA dismissed Hezbollah's assertions.