Reports link Iraq, Iran and Syria to Palestinian terror
In its season premiere Sunday, CBS's "60 Minutes" news-documentary show reported that Iraq and Iran are secretly financing and directing acts of terrorism against Israel. The report was based on documents seized by the IDF during Operation Defensive Shield and the army's interrogation of thousands of prisoners. Le Figaro reported this week that Syria was cooperating with Iran and providing training bases for terrorists.
Hosting the CBS program, Lesley Stahl reported that tens of thousands of documents were seized by the IDF when the army entered Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's Mukata government compound in Ramallah during Operation Defensive Shield at the end of March.
Senior IDF Intelligence Officer Col. Miri Eisen, who served as the army's spokesperson for Operation Defensive Shield, told Stahl, "We went into what is the equivalent of the Palestinian CIA, the Palestinian FBI, the Bureau of Education, the Treasury. We've taken their database."
Months of translating, reading and interpreting the seized documents provided Israel with the proof that Iraq has been infiltrating teams of operatives and weapons into Israel to prepare for attacks considered by intelligence officials as "mega-terrorism."
A senior Israeli intelligence official identified as Ido Hecht told CBS that the captured members of a Palestinian terrorist cell admitted they were trained in an Iraqi base near Tikrit by Iraqis.
"They were trained by people from the Iraqi intelligence. So this was an operation that had full Iraqi backing," Hecht said. The cell was operating in the Ramallah area, and while Israel didn't know their specific instructions, it was assumed by security officials that the Iraqi-trained cell was planning an attack on Ben-Gurion International Airport.
CBS reported that documents seized by the IDF proved that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was using the Palestinian Authority as a middleman in his illegal selling of oil. The Palestinians used "kickback money" received from Iraq to purchase weapons. Many of these weapons were purchased from Iran and were included on the Karine A shipment that was captured by Israel in January.
Iranian patrols seen in southern Lebanon
Additional documents seized by the IDF showed how Iran was helping to finance terrorist organizations operating inside Israel. "We have been interrogating hundreds, thousands of Palestinians from April of this year, and talking to them," Eisen said. "We've found some that have been trained in Iran."
In addition, Iran has been providing Hizbullah forces based in southern Lebanon with weapons and training. IDF Northern Command OC Maj.-Gen. Benny Gantz told CBS that Iran funds, equips and trains Hizbullah and tells it what to do. Gantz added that Iranian patrols, possibly supervisors or experts, were seen along the entire Lebanese border.
Eisen showed Stahl documents from Arafat's files about meetings of terrorist groups in late October 2001, just six weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. Iran sent a message telling the groups, 'You must not allow a calming down at this period. Carry out suicide attacks against Israeli targets in Gaza, in the West Bank and inside Israel.'
"Israeli intelligence continues to mine their treasure of Arafat's database and to keep the Bush administration informed," Stahl reported. "In fact, Israeli intelligence officers were at the White House just this week to brief the administration."
Le Figaro: Iran and Syria supporting Palestinian terror
The French newspaper Le Figaro reported yesterday that Iran and Syria have a deep involvement in Palestinian terror, and the two countries are financing and training terror cells. According to the newspaper report, which was based on information provided by Israeli intelligence sources, Iran has been providing the terrorists with money and weapons, as well as the ideological infrastructure to continue with their "struggle," whereas Syria has provided training bases and a banking system to help channel funds.
The organizations being funded and trained by Iran and Syria, Le Figaro reported, include Hamas and Islamic Jihad, as well as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Hizbullah.
One of the incidents documented in the Le Figaro report was that of two PFLP terrorists arrested at the Allenby Bridge on August 7, 2001. During their interrogation, the terrorists said that they had been recruited in Nablus and sent to Syria for military training. In Syria they were met by senior intelligence officials, and they were trained at a base 45 minutes away from Damascus. The two terrorists were reportedly trained for mortar attacks, ambushes on IDF patrols and a suicide bombing "mega-attack" at Tel Aviv's Azrieli Towers.
At least seven terrorist organizations have headquarters in Damascus, and many terrorists reportedly receive their instructions to carry out attacks from "political leaders" based there.
Media reports have previously shown that Iraq and Saudi Arabia have transferred large sums of money to the Palestinians for "supporting the Intifada." These funds were given to the families of suicide terrorists, as well as to Hamas.