Friday, August 04, 2006

Russia Is Arming Hizballah

AIA has published a four-part series of articles written last year by Michel Elbaz, examining the relations between the Russian government and Hizballah. The analysis shows that the Russian special services have been arming and equipping the Islamist extremist organization, supplying it not only with weapons and missiles, but also with military and technical advisers: Russian ex-officers were recruited by MJI (Muntamat al-Jihad al-Islami or "Islamic Jihad Organization") from elite and special units for training missions in Hisballah's Lebanese bases. Initially, the article states, "several dozen ex-'military advisers' who had trained the Syrian Army in the eighties in Lebanon were hired. As mercenaries they came back and taught Hezbollah`s terrorists in the Bekaa Valley how to plant mines, sharp shoot and collect intelligence."

From the study:
Besides the transfers of weapons purchased by MJI operatives in Russia, there was another way to arm Hezbollah with Russian weapons – by means of the military cooperation between Moscow and Tehran. In several cases, the data substantiating these transfers has become known to the Western media and was published as part of an effort to stop the transaction. For example, on April 16,s 1997, Bill Gertz wrote in The Washington Times: "Russia is selling advanced air- defense systems to Iran, including the latest version of a hand-held anti-aircraft missile that Tehran intends to provide to Hezbollah terrorists. Such transactions would violate a pledge Russian President Boris Yeltsin made during the 1994 summit with President Clinton to block all new conventional arms sales to Iran. The missile sales talks took place in February and last month between Iranian intelligence agents and Russian arms brokers in Moscow, who offered two S-300 series anti-aircraft missiles launchers (SA-10 and SA-12) for sale at discount prices, Pentagon intelligence officials said." The newspaper also learned that this deal worth $180 million includes, besides 96 missiles for SA-10 and SA-12, 500 shoulder launched "Igla" missiles, part of which Iran planned to hand over to Hezbollah.

History repeated itself three and a half years later. On October 24, 2000, American sources reported, "Since yesterday 325 Russian missiles are being loaded into freight train and a ship to be transferred to Iran. The deal between Moscow and Tehran on purchasing of 700 "Igla" missiles and other weapons worth $1.75 billion was signed three weeks ago." The deal came about, even despite President Clinton's personal appeal to President Putin to cancel it. Israeli sources reported that part of the missile shipment later fell to Hezbollah`s lot. In January, 2005, Israeli security sources expressed anxiety following the upcoming deal between Russia and Syria on delivery of "Igla" missiles to Damascus. The Israelis fear that the missiles will be transferred from Syria to Hezbollah and may even fall into the hands of the Palestinian terrorist organizations.
Read it all.

Update: the articles are given topicality by today's AP report that Iran is to supply Hizballah with surface-to-air missiles, including Russian-made SAMs.
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