Covid: Lebanese spy chief tests positive after visit to White House and CIA

Abbas Ibrahim's planned trip to Paris for meetings with French officials has been postponed while he self-isolates

Major General Abbas Ibrahim, head of Lebanon's General Security agency is seen in Beirut, Lebanon May 23, 2018. Picture taken May 23, 2018. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Lebanon’s spymaster, Maj Gen Abbas Ibrahim, has tested positive for Covid-19 after his visit to Washington, which ended on Sunday, Lebanese authorities said.

Lebanon’s General Security made the announcement on Monday evening local time.

Mr Ibrahim is in quarantine in Boston and reports being asymptomatic, The National has learnt. His trip to Boston was scheduled for work meetings.

A planned trip to Paris for meetings with French officials has been postponed while he isolates himself.

In Washington, he met CIA director Gina Haspel, National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, who had Covid-19 last month, and undersecretary of state David Hale.

Senior US officials who met with Mr Ibrahim are self-isolating, Politico reported. CIA Director Gina Haspel has continued to test negative, according to Bloomberg. 

The Foley Foundation also hosted a dinner for Gen Ibrahim on Saturday. He was in Washington on a four-day visit to meet officials from the White House, State Department and the CIA.

Gen Ibrahim leads Lebanon’s most powerful security service after the military, and has a reputation as a savvy negotiator who has helped to secure the release of US residents and nationals.

He has also brokered deals with extremists such as ISIS and militant Palestinian factions to end bouts of fighting in Lebanon.

Despite his close relationship with Hezbollah, Gen Ibrahim received a warm welcome from the Trump administration.

He is looking to young but growing relations with the US for sharing intelligence.

Gen Ibrahim was involved last year in securing the release of US citizen Sam Goodwin from Syria, and of US permanent resident Nizar Zakka from prison in Iran.

Austin Tice, an American journalist kidnapped in Syria in 2012 and believed to be in the custody of Damascus, is a top priority for the Trump administration.

In March, US President Donald Trump sent a letter to Syrian President Bashar Al Assad urging him to release Mr Tice.

Gen Ibrahim is regarded as a key mediator in the Tice case and was known to be in Damascus in May, where he said he was discussing cross-border security and smuggling.