Update: US warship Iwo Jima ideal to evacuate citizens: intelligence report
A prominent military think tank believes an evacuation of US citizens may become necessary, it reported this evening, and argues that the US warship Iwo Jima is well-positioned to carry out the evacuation.
Stratfor, a private military intelligence organization that is well-respected in the defense community says planning for an evacuation is critical, in case the invasion by Israel continues.
"With Israeli military action and political tensions escalating in
Lebanon, the possibility that Hezbollah or other militants groups could
take Western hostages should be seriously considered. Once Hezbollah
becomes convinced that a full-scale Israeli invasion of Lebanon is
certain, its most likely move will be to seize hostages, particularly
U.S. citizens. This would be done in order to deter an all-out assault
on their infrastructure in Lebanon and to gain political leverage over
Israel through the United States."
Stratfor, a private intelligence organization often called the "shadow CIA" says it has become urgent that evacuation plans commence. "Because of this, the United States will have to get its citizens out before any major invasion begins."
"The United States has begun exploring options for evacuating
Americans from Lebanon in the wake of the Israeli assault there against
Hezbollah," Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported in the last few minutes. It quotes US State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack, who told DPA that the US is "doing all the appropriate planning with all the appropriate
US government agencies for various contingencies that might arise," McCormack said Friday.
DPA writes that there are about 25,000 Americans in
Lebanon. US citizens have been instructed to assess their security
situation and begin looking for opportunities to leave 'as conditions
permit,' McCormack said.
NowPublic's Beirut correspondent was first to make the connection between persistent rumors in Beirut of an evacuation and the USS Iwo Jima. The warship is enroute to the area. Bizarrely, the US government website for the Iwo Jima has been shut down, with a warning that those who use the site face having their personal data monitored.
According to Wikipedia, the Iwo Jima left Newport, RI, on June 6, 2006, leading a seven ship convoy, called
the Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group. The purpose of the mission, encompassing 6,000 sailors and
Marines, was to b a six-month tour of duty to the Middle East in support of
the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and against terrorism.