(FOX NEWS) - Bird-brained terrorists in Lebanon have taken a suspected Israeli spy into custody - an eagle that was outfitted with a transmitter that allowed conservationists to study the raptor's migratory patterns.
In the latest case of Muslim militants seeing a secret agent with wings and a beak, Iranian-backed Hezbollah forces are keeping the eagle under lock and key after it was found by hunters near the town of Ashkout, northeast of Beirut. The bird had a ring around its leg that bore the name 'Tel Aviv University,' written in English, as well as a receiver device attached, according to Hezbollah's Al Manar TV station.
Israeli spymasters, who don't typically outfit spies with such identifying markers, could not be reached for comment. But Yossi Leshem, of the Israel Ornithological Centre, told FoxNews.com the bird is innocent - and rare.
"The Israel National Parks Authority has been working on a program to protect the raptor eagles," Leshem said. "Not so long ago, there were 65 pairs here, but now there are only nine, as most have sadly died after ingesting pesticides."
Leshem said the marking just shows the eagle is part of Israel's equivalent to the Audubon Society. The transmitter, sends a radio signal every 90 minutes to allow scientists to establish which flight paths the bird has flown from as far north as Siberia, to as far south as South Africa, he said.
"This latest situation, like those before, is just ridiculous," Leshem said.
Hezbollah officially declared the bird an "enemy entity," and his fate is now uncertain. It's only the latest critter to be suspected of spying. Last December, Sudanese authorities "detained" a griffon vulture bearing an Israeli tag, insisting it was a spy. It was eventually cleared and is believed to have been released. Another griffon vulture was apprehended by Saudi Arabian special forces a couple of years earlier. It was subsequently released under an edict from the House of Saud's crown prince.
In 2011, Turkey's intelligence bizarrely took into custody a dead Merops Apiaster, aka the European Bee Eater. Found carrying an Israeli leg tag, the Turks were convinced it was an Israeli undercover agent, but in the end it turned out to be just a dead bird.
Paranoia and brain-washing are par for the course in much of the Middle East whenever Israel is mentioned, with many people unquestioningly lapping up anything anti-Israeli, no matter how far-fetched.
In 2008, the Palestinian Authority accused Israel of releasing rats to drive people from their homes, while in 2010 the governor of South Sinai refused to rule out the possibility that a series of shark attacks on vacationers at the Red Sea resort of Sharm-el-Sheikh had been carried out by a man-eating shark deliberately released into the area by Israel's Mossad spy agency to undermine Egypt's tourist industry.
Strenuous efforts are now underway to try and bring about the release of the latest incarcerated raptor eagle.
"I understand the bird was injured when it was captured in Lebanon," Leshem said. "I have been in touch with my Palestinian colleagues, who in turn have spoken to friends in Lebanon, who hope that through a third party - possibly a European intermediary - the bird can be brought back home."