Lebanese comedian, spying for Israel, arrested

A file photo taken on July 18, 2013, shows Lebanese writer and actor Ziad Itani performing on stage in the capital Beirut. (AFP)
Updated 25 November 2017

Lebanese comedian, spying for Israel, arrested

BEIRUT: Lebanon was shocked on Friday by the arrest of the writer and actor Ziad Itani for what a security source called “collaborating with Israel over the past three years.”
Itani, a comedian and playwright, was arrested on Thursday evening while returning home in the Ain Al-Rammaneh district in Beirut. Security sources said that he plotted to assassinate Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk and monitored Abdul Rahim Mrad, a former minister.
A security forces statement said: “On 23/11/2017, the State Security Directorate General carried out a quality proactive operation in counterintelligence, and it arrested the Lebanese citizen called Ziad Ahmed Itani, who is an actor, director and playwright (born in Beirut 1975), on charges of collaborating and communicating with Israeli enemy. A specialized unit for the State Security, following monitoring, tracking and investigating for several months inside and outside Lebanese territories, and on direct instructions from the General Director, Maj. Gen. Tony Saliba, confirmed the crime against the suspect Ziad Itani.”
The statement said the suspect admitted to the tasks he was assigned in Lebanon, including “monitoring a group of prominent political figures, and strengthening relations with their close associates, in order to get as much details as possible about their lives, occupations, and especially their movements, and providing his operators with detailed information about two prominent political figures, whose identities will be revealed in our following statements. (The tasks also included) establishing a Lebanese nucleus to support the concept of normalization with Israel, promote Zionist ideas among the intellectuals, and provide his operators with reports about the reaction of the Lebanese society in all its aspects after the political developments which occurred during the past two weeks in Lebanon.”
The security sources added that Itani, according to his confessions, was in touch with a woman who was supposed to come to Lebanon on Dec. 2, and he booked a hotel for her in the Mount Lebanon area.
State Security seized communication equipment from Itani’s home, including a laptop and three cellphones he was using for communication, according to security sources.
Itani became famous in the past few years after he presented the comedy “Beirut Al-Jadideh Road,” which talked about changing traditions in Beirut, and “Beirut on the Tree,” which he presented for many years. He took part in many TV satirical programs. 

US bolsters Middle East force with 1,500 troops as Pentagon blames Iran for tanker attacks

Updated 24 May 2019

US bolsters Middle East force with 1,500 troops as Pentagon blames Iran for tanker attacks

  • Donald Trump says the additional troops would serve a 'mostly protective' role
  • The US began reinforcing its presence in the Arabian Gulf region earlier this month

WASHINGTON: The US will strengthen its force in the Middle East with 1,500 extra troops, Donald Trump said Friday as the Pentagon blamed Iran for an attack on oil tankers off the coast of the UAE.

"We want to have protection in the Middle East," Trump said as he left the White House for a trip to Japan. "We're going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective.
"Some very talented people are going to the Middle East right now. And we'll see what happens."

Shortly after his comments, the Pentagon accused Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) of being directly responsible for attacks on tankers off the UAE earlier this month, describing it as part of a "campaign" by Tehran driving new US deployments.
"The attack against the shipping in Fujairah we attribute it to the IRGC," said Rear Admiral Michael Gilday, the director of the Joint Staff, adding the Pentagon attributed limpet mines used in the attack to the IRGC. He declined to describe "the means of delivery" of the mines.

The 1,500 extra troops will be made up of a deployment of 900 more forces, including engineers, and the extension of a tour by some 600 personnel manning Patriot missiles.

Officials said earlier that members of Congress were notified following a White House meeting Thursday to discuss Pentagon proposals to bolster the force in the region.
Earlier this week, officials said that Pentagon planners had outlined plans that could have sent up to 10,000 military reinforcements to the region. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan later said planners had not settled on a figure.
The US began reinforcing its presence in the Arabian Gulf region this month in response to what it said was a threat from Iran.

*With AP and Reuters