Hizbullah Critic Arrested

A Shia cleric in Lebanon, known for his criticism of Hizbullah, has been arrested on charges of spying for Israel.

Elad Benari , | updated: 3:13 AM

Lebanon border
Lebanon border
Israel news photo: Flash 90

A Shia cleric has been arrested in Lebanon on suspicion of spying for Israel, Lebanese security sources told the BBC on Tuesday.

News agencies in Lebanon have named the suspect as Mohamed Ali al-Husseini, but authorities have not officially confirmed his identity.

Sheikh al-Husseini is known to be critical of the Hizbullah terror group, which is backed by Syria and is a powerful force in Lebanon. The BBC reported that al-Husseini was picked up at his home in the city of Tyre in southern Lebanon.

Al-Husseini is the leader of an organization called the Arab-Islamic Resistance, which according to various reports numbers around 1,500 fighters.

His arrest is the latest in a series of arrests in Lebanon of alleged spies for Israel in the last two years.

In June of 2010, a technician who worked for the Lebanese Alfa mobile phone network was arrested on suspicion of spying for Israel. In early 2009, several dozen people, including former senior army officials, were arrested during a Lebanese campaign targeting alleged Israeli spies.

Three other suspects fled the country before they could be arrested.

The BBC reported that Lebanese President Michel Suleiman has called for severe punishment for the alleged spies, and has said he would sign a death sentence if one is handed down by the courts.

The report notes, however, that although several of the accused have received death sentences, none have been carried out.