(Communicated by Israeli security sources)
The Islamic Republic of Iran, established in 1979 following the Islamic revolution headed by Ayatollah Khomeini, adopted animosity toward Israel as a central component of its political policies. Iran perceives Israel as an enemy that must be destroyed and also as the country that took control of Islamic holy lands and is exploiting the Palestinians. Moreover, Israel is perceived as an emissary of the West, whose goal is to destroy Islam. Thus, armed conflict against Israel is a central and strategic interest on both the political and religious planes. Iran is constantly working to deepen the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians by clear attempts to enflame the intifada and to worsen the murderous terrorist activities of the Palestinians against Israel, until acheiving the total destruction of the State of Israel.
Proof of this can be found in public statements by senior officials in the Iranian government and by religious officials calling for deepening Iranian support of the Palestinians and for the destruction of the State of Israel. Thus in January 2001, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stated that, "The foundation of the Islamic regime is opposition to Israel, and Iran’s continuous issue is the obliteration of Israel from the region." In December 2001, Iranian Ambassador to Syria Sheikh al-Islam stated that, "Iran’s policy regarding the resistance of the Palestinian nation and support for the intifada will never change." He added, "We are thinking only of the liberation of Palestinian land, which was taken from Islam." Sheikh Kharoubi, the speaker of the Iranian Majles (parliament), stated in October 2001 that, "The Palestinian issue is an Islamic issue. Iran has always done its best to defend the rights of the Palestinian people and will always stand by them."
Members of the Revolutionary Guards – an elite military organization established during the revolution as an alternative to the army, responsible for preserving the revolution and its achievements – openly and clearly has called for the destruction of Israel on various occasions. Dou-Alkader, one of the leaders of the Guards, stated in June 2002 that, "Palestine is the focus of inspiration for all Muslims, and Israel is a cancerous tumor that must be destroyed." A statement released by the Guards in April 2002 said that, "The hearts of the members of the Revolutionary Guards are today filled with hatred and animosity toward the Zionist murderers and their supporters, and are ready for the leader’s order to sacrifice their fortunes and souls to defend the Palestinians."
To realize these goals, Iran is working on a number of planes. First, Iran is recruiting, directing, and supporting terrorists in order to establish infrastructures of recruits within the Palestinian territories whose purpose is to carry out military actions against Israeli targets. Second, Iran is working to initiate terrorist activities in the territories and in Israel through Palestinian and other terrorist organizations, principally the Islamic Jihad and Hizbullah, to whom Iran supplies military, operational, and financial aid. It is not unlikely that Iran is also working covertly and indirectly to carry out other activities aimed at harming the State of Israel.
Due to the terrorist activities that it initiates and is involved in, Iran was included in the US State Department’s list of seven countries designated as countries that support terrorism, and was even defined by US President George W. Bush as one of the three countries forming the "axis of evil." This fact did not prevent Iran from giving sanctuary to activists from al-Qaida who escaped from Afghanistan during the American attack.
Mohammed A-Dura and his father as a wall mural in the
heart of Tehran
The recruitment of wounded Palestinians who were sent to receive medical treatment in Iran, during the Iranian infiltration into the Palestinian territories
Iran is working to establish an infrastructure of recruits in the territories in order to increase its influence there and to intensify the terrorist activities the Palestinians perpetrate against Israel. Since the start of the Aqsa intifada, hundreds of wounded Palestinians hurt in various violent incidents were sent to Iran to receive medical treatment. During their stay in Iran they were contacted by official Iranian organizations that provide humanitarian aid for propaganda purposes and which serve as cover for Iranian activity against Israel. This activity includes gathering intelligence information on Israel and the territories, recruiting an infrastructure of facilitators for carrying out terrorist activities, and smuggling weapons under the guise of business activities. A portion of the wounded underwent military training during their stay in Iran; others were recruited to locate other Palestinians for carrying out military activities. In this manner Iran is clearly increasing its influence in the territories.
The wounded Palestinians were transferred from the territories to Jordan, and from there to Iran on military and civilian flights. Their passports were not stamped, and no visas were necessary. They were then taken to military hospitals in Teheran: Baqiyat Allah Hospital (a Republican Guards hospital where the wounded stayed in a separate ward) and Sisan Hospital. Official welcoming ceremonies were held for them in which Iranian notables participated, including Sheikh Kharoubi, the head of the Iranian Majles a-Shura, the Palestinian Authority ambassador to Iran, the director-general of President Khatami’s office, and others.
During the woundeds’ stay in Iran, they were taken by members of the Headquarters for Coordination and Support of the Intifada to visit various official sites and popular committees. In April 2001 many wounded were invited to participate in a conference for the support of the Palestinian intifada in which delegations from all the Islamic countries took part. Anti-Israel speeches were given by Ramadan Shalah, head of the Islamic Jihad, Khaled Mashal and Ibrahim Ousha, leaders of Hamas, and Nabih Berri, head of the Lebanese Amal Party. Members of the Palestinian Legislative Council also participated in the conference – Housam Khader, Abdel Gawad Saleh, and Hatem Abdel Kader – as well as Jerusalem Mufti Ikirma Sabri and the late Faisal Husseini, the PLO representative in Jerusalem.
The wounded were also taken to visit many official sites, such as Khomeini’s house and grave, the Shah’s Palace Museum, a base for Iraqi prisoners, the Iranian book exhibition, and the University of Teheran. In one instance, the wounded were taken to a cinema where an Iranian propaganda movie was shown that dealt with war against Israel and the Jews. The movie showed scenes of the wars against Israel and Israeli military bases and weapons. In addition, during their stay in Iran, the wounded received video recordings of the intifada in the West Bank. Furthermore, groups of wounded were taken to be used as "decorations" in the internal election campaigns of different universities in Teheran, Yazd, and Zanjan.
Each wounded Palestinian received spending money from the Iranian Popular Committee, opportunities to phone the West Bank, and a grant from the Iranian Parliament.
During their stay in Iran the wounded were visited by various notables, including: Hassan Nasralla, secretary-general of Hizbullah; Khaled Mashal, a Hamas leader; Osama Hamdan, a Hamas representative in Lebanon; Abu Muhammad Moustafa, a Hamas representative in Iran; Ramadan Shalah, the leader of the PIJ; and Muhammad Touhi ("Abu Jihad"), a PIJ representative in Iran.
Rallies in support of the intifada in Iran
Wounded Palestinians recruited in Iran
Name: Mounir Hantash
Resident of Baka el-Hatib, Qalqilya, 27 years old
Place and date of injury: Nablus, October 2000. Treated in hospitals in Nablus, Jordan, and Iraq.
Medical treatment in Iran: Hantash left for Iran in early 2001 and stayed at Sisan Hospital.
Recruitment for military activities: During his stay in Iran, he was approached by Abu Muhammad Mansour and was offered a chance to undergo military training. Due to Hantash’s physical weakness he had to decline, but the two agreed that upon his return Hantash would recruit activists in the territories and send them to Iran for training. These activists would then return to the territories and perpetrate terrorist attacks. Mansour transferred $5,000 to Hantash for this purpose.
Hantash’s activities in the territories: Upon his return to the territories, Hantash recruited Hani Moustafa Zalef and Raed Muhammad Hantash, both from his village, for military activity. Hantash indicated that he was connected with the Iranians and offered to send them to Iran for training. Zalef and Raed Hantash were arrested by the Shin Bet and admitted during questioning that Hantash had recruited them for military action and that they had carried out this type of activity.
Hantash’s continuing activities on behalf of Iran: In July 2001 Hantash left for Iran once again in order to receive funding for his activities. During this visit he met with Abu Muhammad, who instructed him in using a codename, rules of communication security, and so on. Later Abu Muhammad trained him to dismantle and assemble a Kalashnikov assault rifle (Russian and Iranian)and pistols, and to use stun and fragmentation grenades, after which he practiced shooting and throwing grenades. In addition, he received theoretical training in explosives. During his visit he again received a sum of $5,000.
Hantash’s continuing activities in the territories: After returning from Iran, Hantash recruited Fadi Samara, of Baka el-Hatib, and told him he would be leaving for training in Iran. In May 2002 Hantash and his recruits trained with a pistol Hantash purchased and in assembling a fuse cord. In June 2002 Hantash and his three recruits attempted to perpetrate a terrorist attack with Hantash’s pistol near Kafr Haja, but due to the presence of IDF patrols in the area they did not succeed. A day or two later they carried out a shooting attack on a car travelling on the Nablus-Qalqilya road, but did not hit any of the occupants. In mid-June 2002, Hantash and his recruits attempted to perpetrate another shooting attack, again without success. In addition, Hantash and Raed Hantash staked out the settlement of Karnei Shomron with the aim of attacking a settler.
Raed Hantash admitted in his interrogation that, following Mounir Hantash’s arrest at the beginning of August 2002, he participated in two other shooting attacks on the Nablus-Qalqilya road in which there were no casualties. Furthermore, Raed Hantash pointed out in his interrogation that he had tried to contact Iran following Mounir Hantash’s arrest in order to receive further funding to continue his activities, but due to linguistic problems he was not able to communicate.
Name: Oda Katash
Resident of El-Bireh, 40 years old
Place and date of injury: El Bireh, December 2000.
Shot in the leg, treated in a hospital in Ramallah.
Departure for medical treatment in Iran: In April 2001 Katash contacted the secretary of the Committee for the Support of the Intifada in Iran, Abu Sajed, and requested assistance. Abu Sajed arranged for his departure to Iran that same month, along with other wounded Palestinians.
Katash’s recruitment for military activity: In May 2001 Abu Muhammad Mansour contacted Kantash, introducing himself as an official of the Revolutionary Guards, and asked him to help smuggle weapons into the West Bank. Abu Muhammad suggested the smuggling be carried out under cover of business activities. During his stay in Iran, Katash met with an official from the Revolutionary Guards named Abu Mahdi (Najafi), who explained to Katash that the Guards is an organization dedicated to preserving the Iranian revolution that has enlisted half of Iran’s population in its hierarchical structure. Abu Mahdi told Katash that the residents of the West Bank were not doing enough regarding the intifada, and said he wished to assist the Palestinian people in its war – and for this purpose he required the assistance of residents of the West Bank. In another meeting, Abu Mahdi told Katash the IRGC was interested in establishing a base to recruit many military squads that would operate from the West Bank, and that he would help Katash by financing the purchase of weapons and smuggling them into the West Bank. Abu Mahdi also stated that he was interested in helping Katash transfer other wounded for treatment in Iran, and also to open a branch of the Iranian Popular Committee in Ramallah that would serve as a cover for security activity. Abu Mahdi said that among the wounded coming to Iran he would like to recruit those knowledgeable in electricity and chemistry, who would receive covert weapons training so they would not be exposed. Katash informed Abu Mahdi that he was a trained metal worker, and the latter asked if he could operate a lathe for manufacturing weapons. Similarly, Abu Mahdi suggested that Katash recruit engravers, blacksmiths, and metal workers who would be trained in Iran and the territories to manufacture weapons. Abu Mahdi emphasized that he would like Katash to establish contacts with Fatah activists in the West Bank so they would use the manufactured weapons in the future. At the end of the meeting, Abu Mahdi gave Katash $1,000.
Katash noted that he was asked by Abu Muhammad Mansour to plan the establishment of an Internet site to assist the wounded, so that any wounded Palestinian who needed treatment could arrange it by entering the site, which would be managed by the branch to be established in Ramallah.
Katash also indicated that he was directed by Abu Mahdi to write a letter of thanks in the name of the wounded Palestinians to the Iranian Republic and also a personal letter of thanks to Hasan Nasrallah. The letters would be publicized by the Almanar television station of Hizbullah. Similarly, Abu Mahdi suggested that Katash receive the names of those expected to leave for Iran in advance and give them some basic lessons in weapons, so they would arrive in Iran for military training with some basic concept of using weapons.
In early June 2001, Katash underwent basic training at a military base, during which he received theoretical and practical training on the M-16 assault rifle. In addition, he was given instructions regarding how to act when under interrogation and was told to keep an eye open for people following him and so forth.
During his interrogation Katash emphasized that all of the activists belonging to the Iranian Popular Committee for the Support of the Intifada are undercover members of the Revolutionary Guards.
Katash’s activities in the territories: Upon his return, Katash began to contact wounded and mediate between them and Abu Sajed in order to send them to Iran for treatment. In early July 2001, Katash coordinated with Abu Sajed the establishment of a committee branch in Ramallah in order to simplify procedures. A monthly salary was promised to Katash as the representative of the committee.
The connection with Iran continued while Katash resided in the territories. Thus, in August 2001, Abu Sajed was updated by Katash regarding a terrorist attack in Haifa – the number of dead and wounded. Katash provided the details, pointing out that the only one killed was the suicide bomber; although there were wounded.
Abu Sajed pointed out to Katash that the Iranians were not interested in receiving seriously wounded Palestinians, whose treatment would be long and wasteful. Iran would like to care for as many wounded as possible, at the lowest possible cost and investment. In addition, the Iranians asked for those who were lightly wounded, so they could be used militarily.
Transfer of funds for the wounded: Abu Sajed asked to transfer compensation money to the wounded through charity associations belonging to organizations such as Hamas. According to Abu Sajed, these associations receive the names of the wounded from the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry, then transfer them to Saudi Arabia, where personal checks are written for the wounded.
Name: Shadi Jaber
A Resident of Tulkarm, 26 years old
Place and date of injury: The Tulkarm area, November 2000. Treated for gunshot wound in the Tulkarm hospital.
Medical treatment in Iran: In January 2001 Jaber was sent for medical treatment in Iran. Three months later he returned to the West Bank with orders to return to Iran within a month.
Jaber’s recruitment for military activity: During his stay in Iran, Jaber met with Abu Mahdi (Najfi), who spoke with him regarding political issues and Israel’s actions against the Palestinian people. Jaber was questioned regarding about his relationship with Hizbullah, to which he replied that he was an enthusiastic supporter and expressed the hope that a Palestinian Hizbullah would soon be established in which he could operate. A few weeks later the two met again and Abu Mahdi explained that he was a member of the Iranian Hizbullah, which is a division of the Revolutionary Guards, and suggested Jaber enlist in the organization; Jaber agreed. Abu Mahdi pointed out that the Iranian Hizballah required "eyes" for its activities. Jaber was directed to continue bringing intifada wounded to Iran, for this was a good cover for his activities. He was given an operational codename and was told to buy a cellphone with which to keep in touch with his operators in Iran. He was told similar things by Abu Sajed.
Jaber’s activities in the territories: After returning to the territories, he offered to recruit a number of residents of the Tulkarm refugee camp into Hizbullah.
Jaber’s continuing activities in Iran: In March 2001 Jaber again traveled to Iran, bringing with him a group of wounded from the Tulkarm area which he organized in coordination with the Iranian Popular Committee. A week later he again traveled to Jordan, bringing with him another group of wounded Palestinians, supervised by Iranian doctors whom he had met during his stay in Iran. During his visit, Jaber compiled lists of intifada wounded, families of shahids, and those incarcerated for use by the Iranian Committee for the Support of the Intifada. Abu Sajed directed him to contact different branches of the Palestinian Authority in order to compile these lists. In June 2001 Abu Sajed and Abu Mahdi requested that Jaber help gather information about settlements – whether they were populated and whether they had any military forces. Abu Sajed purchased a video camera for Jaber in order for him to gather the relevant information. In July 2001 Abu Sajed asked Jaber to establish an official office of the Iranian Popular Committee in coordination with the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.
Jaber’s activities in the territories: Shadi Jaber, together with another man, planned to kidnap an IDF soldier in the Beit Lid and Kfar Yona area, after noticing a large concentration of soldiers there. The purpose of this kidnapping would have been prisoner exchange.
Name: Jihad Basha
Resident of Danaba/Tulkarm
Place and date of injury: In November 2000 he was shot in the leg during riots at the DCO junction in Tulkarm. In March 2001 he was approached by Shadi Jaber, who introduced himself as a coordinator for the Iranian Popular Committee for the Aid of Intifada Wounded, which could help Jihad receive good medical treatment in Iran.
Medical treatment in Iran: Arrived in Iran in April 2001 and was admitted to Baqiyat Allah Hospital.
Basha’s recruitment for military activity: During Basha’s stay in Iran, Shadi Jaber suggested they together perpetrate a military action on the West Bank on behalf of the Iranians, who would train them and fund their activities. Jihad agreed. Shadi noted that they would have to recruit military squads and obtain weapons. The two agreed that they would be able to acquire weapons only by purchasing them in the West Bank. Jihad then met with Abu Mahdi, who offered to smuggle weapons into the West Bank. However, Jihad said this was not possible and that it would be preferable to purchase the weapons in the territories. Abu Mahdi told Jihad and other wounded that he was not interested in carrying out shooting attacks from afar, but rather successful attacks with results, for which they must train and have shooting practice before going to carry out an attack. Similarly, Abu Mahdi stated that setting up five-men squads is preferable, for this is the only way to hurt the enemy and cause damage. Jihad arranged with Abu Mahdi for the transfer of $30,000 for the purpose of establishing the first armed squad. Abu Mahdi spoke to him about the idea of setting up a construction company as a cover for terrorist activities, to which Abu Mahdi would transfer funds.
Basha’s activities in the territories: Jihad proposed to a number of people from Tulkarm to join him in establishing a military squad that would be directed by the Iranians, noting that a great deal of money would be received from them for activities, training, and for the activists themselves. Jihad met with the people he recruited and discussed carrying out the following activities: shooting attacks on settlers’ vehicles, purchasing weapons from an arms dealer, and training. Members of the squad planned to attack the Border Police base at the DCO in Tulkarm, and even gathered information about the base.
Name: Hisham Hasan Abu Harb
Resident of Khan Yunis; member of Force 17 Arafat’s presidential guard
Place and Date of injury: Lost his eye during the first intifada (1987)
Medical treatment in Iran: At the beginning of the present intifada, Abu Harb was summoned to meet with Aqid Muhammad Awad from Force 17, who offered to send him for medical treatment in Iran, where on behalf of the Palestinian Authority he would also keep his eye on a Hamas activist in Iran for medical treatment. Awad directed Abu Harb to gather information about the training the Hamas activist went through in Iran, the people he met, and to ascertain whether he was recruited by the Revolutionary Guards. Awad was also requested to determine whether there was a connection between the activist and Abu Sajed. Awad told Abu Harb there was suspicion that the activist had been trained by Hamas in Iran, where Hamas had an office.
Abu Harb filed a request with the PA Health Ministry, attaching a forged medical report prepared for him by Force 17, stating that he had been injured in the present intifada. At the end of July 2001, Abu Harb left for Iran and was admitted to Baqiyat Allah Hospital, where he met the Hamas activist he was supposed to follow on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.
Abu Harb’s activities during his stay in Iran: Abu Sajed explained to Abu Harb that the wounded were being brought to Iran for medical treatment at the command of Sheikh Khomeini to assist the Palestinian people in every way and to destroy the State of Israel. Abu Sajed also told him that they provide funding to all the Islamic resistance groups in Iran and that they have had offices in Iran dating back to the revolution.
Iran supplies Palestinian and other terrorist organizations with operational know-how and funding in order to initiate terrorist activities against Israel. This support enables terrorist organizations to upgrade their operational capabilities and to exacerbate the damage to Israeli targets.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)
As part of Iran’s attempts to enflame the intifada and worsen the terrorist activities against Israeli targets, it supplies various terrorist organizations with funding and military training. One of the principal Palestinian organizations that enjoys this Iranian support is the Islamic Jihad. This organization carried out many lethal suicide bombings during the intifada that killed a great number of Israeli civilians and soldiers and wounded many others. A recent attack occurred in Hebron on November 15, 2002, in which 12 Israeli civilians and soldiers were killed. From his hiding place in Syria, Ramadan Shalah, the head of the organization, took full responsibility for this attack.
The leaders of the organization, who live in Syria, visit Iran and maintain relations with Iranian leaders in order to receive funding and support for the wide range of terrorist activities they direct against Israel. The organization has a permanent representative in Iran who maintains continuous contact with various Iranian officials to preserve and deepen these connections.
Thus on Ramadan Shalah’s visit to Iran in April 2001 he met with Iranian spiritual leader Ali Khamenei, who promised to increase the organization’s funding by approximately 70 percent, in order to finance the costs of recruiting young Palestinians for suicide attacks. At this meeting Khamenei praised the "heroic acts" by the members of the organization, in particular the suicide bombers. He stressed that Iran would provide the Islamic Jihad with funding and weapons that would enable the organization to continue its suicide attacks.
The Hizbullah is the most central and conspicuous of the Islamic extremist organizations that maintain close ties of cooperation with Iran. One could definitely say that, in effect, Iran created Hizbullah. The organization was established by Iranian Revolutionary Guards who arrived in Lebanon during Operation Peace for Galilee in 1982 as part of the Iranian policy of exporting the Islamic revolution. The organization enjoyed ample Iranian financial, political, and military assistance, serving as a central operational force for the Iranians in everything related to terrorist activities against Israeli targets.
Ever since the organization was founded, it has engaged in a bloody struggle against Israel, carrying out a long line of lethal attacks against Israeli and Western targets in Lebanon and abroad, as well as kidnapping hostages. Among these attacks: the bombing of the Israeli administration building in Tyre in November 1983, in which 29 people were killed; involvement in the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Argentina in March 1992, in which 30 people were killed, and the bombing of the Jewish community building in Buenos Aires in July 1994, in which some 100 people were killed. In parallel, the organization perpetrated lethal attacks against IDF patrols and outposts in Lebanon, employing gunfire, explosive charges, car bombs, and so on. Ever since the withdrawal of the IDF from Lebanon in May 2000 the organization has not altered its perspective toward Israel nor its determination regarding the use of terrorism against Israel, with the continuous support of Iran.
Since the start of the Aqsa intifada, the organization has been putting considerable effort in furthering its objectives against the State of Israel back by continuous Iranian funding, arms, professional guidance, and ideological support. The organization is working to achieve its goals in a number of ways:
Smuggling weapons into the territories
In January 2001 Israel confiscated the weapons ship Santorini, which was meant to smuggle weapons from Lebanon to the Palestinian Authority through Hizbullah and the PFLP. Three earlier attempts to perpetrate the smuggling failed, and on the fourth attempt the ship was captured near Tyre in Lebanon. Large amounts of weapons were found on the ship, including rockets, mortars, rifles and ammunition.
One year later, in January 2002, the Israel Navy seized the ship Karine A in the Red Sea on its way to the Suez Canal. From the crew’s interrogation it was learned that the ship had been purchased by the Palestinian Authority, equipped with weapons by Iran and Hizbullah, and manned by a crew from the Palestinian Authority. Some of the many weapons on board the Karine A were manufactured in Iran, but in order to cover up Iran’s involvement identifying markings were filed off. An analysis of the structure and components of the weapons by experts found that they were authentic Iranian items whose traces had been carefully obscured.
Beginning in October 2000, Adel Moughrabi, chief procurer in the Palestinian Authority’s weapons purchasing apparatus, was in contact with Iranian officials and Hizbullah activists regarding a wide-ranging operation for smuggling weapons for the use of the Palestinian Authority. These activities included testing and purchasing a suitable ship, recruiting a crew and appointing a captain, coordinating the packing of the weapons, the loading the weapons on the ship, and the delivery of the weapons to the Palestinian Authority.
In December 2001 the ship sailed to Kase Island along the Iranian coastline, in accordance with explicit instructions from Adel Moughrabi. There a ferryboat that most likely originated in Iran docked with the ship and transfered some 80 large wooden crates containing weapons. These weapons were packed in specially sealed containers manufactured exclusively in Iran, having the ability to float and with an apparatus to control the depth of submergence. The use of such sophisticated floating devices indicates that behind this smuggling was a guiding hand with the planning abilities of a country.
On December 29, 2001, the ship sailed toward the Suez Canal. After crossing the canal, the ship was supposed to dock with three other vessels and transfer the weapons to them. According to the plan, these ships were supposed to drop the weapons overboard close to the shores of Gaza City and El-Arish, where people from the Palestinian Authority would collect them.
The original plan was to be carried out by three seaborne elements: the first would load the weapons onto the ship; the second, the ship’s crew, would dump the weapons containers overboard at a designated location, where they would float close to the surface; and the third element would gather the containers. In this fashion it would possible to isolate the connection and evidence linking the weapons’ supplier and the terrorist element that was to collect them.
Arms captured aboard the Karine-A
Infiltration of foreign recruits into Israel to initiate terrorist activities and gather intelligence
In December 2000 a British-Lebanese citizen named Jihad Shouman infiltrated Israel. Israeli authorities arrested him on January 5, 2001 on suspicion he was sent to Israel to perpetrate a terrorist attack on behalf of Hizbullah. In his hotel room a large sum of money was found, along with a kippa, a timer, and three cellular phones.
In June 2002, a prominent Hizbullah fighter named Fawzi Ayoub was arrested after being sent to perpetrate terrorist attacks in Israel. Ayoub, a 38-year-old Lebanese Shi’ite, took part in various activities and operations in Lebanon and abroad, including those in which many civilians were wounded. Among his activities, Ayoub took part in Hizbullah’s attack unit headed by Imad Mughaniya, Hassan Nasrallah’s deputy for military affairs, whose name appears on the list of 22 most wanted issued by the Americans after the September 11 attacks.
Ayoub entered Israel from a European country carrying a false American passport, and checked into a hotel in downtown Jerusalem. A number of days after arriving he traveled to Hebron, where he was arrested by the Palestinians. During his stay in Israel, he met with another activist who accompanied him and assisted him on his mission. The two were instructed by their operators abroad to retrieve weapons from a hiding place and use them to perpetrate an attack.
In this context should be mentioned other Hizbullah activists who arrived in Israel before the intifada, using European or American passports, in order to perpetrate terrorist attacks. Two examples are Hussein Mouqdad, who was severely wounded while attempting to prepare a bomb in a hotel in east Jerusalem in 1996, and Steven Smirk, a German citizen who converted to Islam and was recruited by Hizbullah while in Lebanon. The latter was sent to Israel to perpetrate a suicide attack and was arrested in November 1997.
Recruitment and operation of Israeli Arabs
In recent months Hizbullah has operated a number of criminal groups made up of Israeli Arabs from northern Israel, mainly to gather operational intelligence. The organization utilizes the channels used for smuggling drugs into Israel to transfer the needed information. Thus, in July 2002, a group of Israeli drug dealers was arrested, comprising residents of Nazareth and Ghajar, who were suspected of transferring to hostile elements in Lebanon computer programs, maps, other objects, and classified intelligence documents in exchange for drugs and weapons. The transfer was made via residents of Ghajar, a town split between Israel and Lebanon.
In September 2002, ten Israeli citizens, residents of the Galilee, were arrested on suspicion of transferring sensitive intelligence information to Hizbullah elements in Lebanon in exchange for drugs and money. The principal detainee was IDF Lt.-Col. Omar al-Hayeb from Beit Zarzir, who was in continuous contact with a Lebanese drug dealer codenamed Abu Said, who is connected to Hizbullah elements. Abu Said requested information regarding the deployment of IDF units in the area around the Shabaa Farms, maps of the North, information on the former commander of the IDF’S Northern Command, Maj.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, and information regarding tank ambushes.
Jamal Rahal and Tamer al-Hayeb, who were arrested after carrying out a drug deal at the border fence, were couriers who transferred intelligence information into Lebanon and drugs into Israel. The others arrested in this case were also in contact with Hizbullah elements in Lebanon and transferred intelligence information to them. Through these contacts Amar Azal, one of those arrested, transferred a number of Israeli cellphones to Lebanon. During the investigation it emerged that one of these cellphones was found on the body of one of the terrorists who infiltrated from Lebanon in March 2002 near Kibbutz Matzuva and carried out an attack in which six Israeli civilians were killed.
Palestinians traveling to Lebanon for training by Hizbullah
From May through July 2002 three Tanzim activists, residents of Samaria, were arrested, who admitted during questioning by the Shin Bet that they had been sent to Lebanon for training by Hizbullah. Two underwent extensive military training in Lebanon, and the third was arrested at the Allenbi Bridge before arriving at his destination.
Omar Hamdan Muhammad Seif, a resident of Burqa, was arrested on July 19, 2002 and admitted during questioning that in 2002 he was sent from Jordan to Syria and from there to Lebanon to receive training by Hizbullah. Seif stated that, in February 2002, while staying in Jordan, he met with Haled Sayef, who offered to send him to Lebanon for training. Seif accepted the offer. Haled prepared him for departure and introduced him to Muhammad Darwish, codenamed Mahdi, who told him that he worked for Hizbullah and that his job was to transfer those who arrived for training from Jordan to Syria. During his stay in Syria, Seif met with a Lebanese man who took him to Beirut. After arriving in Lebanon, he was driven to a secluded Hizbullah training area in the mountains. The training included several phases: First, he underwent training on how to dismantle, assemble, and fire various weapons, including a pistol, an Uzi submachine gun, and an M-16 assault rifle. Afterward, he met with a Hizbullah activist who gave him theoretical and practical training with explosives. In addition, he was trained in the operation of an RPG and also in grenade throwing.
During training Seif was returned to Beirut, where he was required to recruit activists and send them for training. At this meeting Seif received 400 dinars and was told that after he sent more recruits he would receive additional funds through them for purchasing weapons. During his stay in Beirut, Seif was told to purchase a map of a central city in Israel, apparently to carry out an attack there.
After concluding training, Seif was returned to Jordan through Syria, and from there traveled to Burka. Seif did as he was directed and recruited three residents of his village for military training. One of these men was Fahed Azam Ahmad Seif, 21, who admitted during questioning that he had accepted the offer. In June 2002 Fahdi traveled to Jordan accompanied by two other recruits, Darjam Salah and Iyad Kassem. Fahdi was denied entry to Jordan and was returned to Burqa. Salah and Kassem traveled to Jordan, and from there to Syria and Lebanon, where they went through military training under Hizbullah and were prepared to carry out attacks in Israel.
Iran is working on a number of planes to enflame the Palestinian intifada and to escalate the murderous terrorist activities against Israel. Iran is directly involved by its recruiting of wounded Palestinians sent to Iran for humanitarian reasons, whom it sends back to the territories with the explicit tasks of perpetrating terrorist attacks and recruiting more activists. In parallel, Iran is also indirectly involved by the financial support, guidance, and training it gives the principal organizations, among them the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hizbullah. In this manner Iran is upgrading the terrorist activities the Palestinians perpetrate against Israel and expanding the never-ending circle of killing.
Iran is trying to take control of the Palestinian struggle, but has been stymied by a wide range of countermeasures by the Shin Bet and other security elements. These have come to understand Iranian operating methods and have thus succeeded in frustrating Iran’s intentions and attempts to export the Islamic revolution and expand the extremist Islamic struggle in the free world, whose Middle Eastern representative is understood to be Israel.
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