Jewish World Review Feb. 20, 2002/ 8 Adar, 5762
Richard Z. Chesnoff
Activists from the Hamas terrorist organization and from Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah are being taught by Iranian trainers to hit low-flying planes or helicopters with shoulder-fired missiles that can be easily operated from almost any location.
This story, which I uncovered while working on a terrorism research project for the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, involves the latest of Iran's dangerous attempts to impose itself into the Arab-Israeli crisis. Coming just weeks after Israel intercepted a clandestine shipload of Iranian arms bound for Arafat, it's a development certain to throw gasoline on an already raging fire.
Impeccable intelligence sources say the killer course is being coordinated by Brig. Gen. Ali Reza Tamizi of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Classes are held at the Jenata Camp in Lebanon's Bakaa Valley, an area occupied by Syria and Iranian forces. The Jenata Camp has long been used as the main training base for Iranian- and Syrian-backed Hezbollah terrorists. Iran's decision to include Palestinians is meant to enable Hamas and Fatah to hit Israeli planes and helicopters in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Of course, the danger isn't limited to Israeli aircraft.
This military cooperation had to have Arafat's blessings.
Sources say 20 Palestinians are participating in the course, three of them members of Fatah. Most of the Hamas participants underwent Revolutionary Guard basic military training in Lebanon last year and will graduate to an advanced course at the Karaj Camp, near the holy Iranian city of Qum. The key Palestinian in this new Iranian plot is Munir Al-Makdah, the charismatic Fatah commander in Lebanon and the chief go-between in the growing new ties between Iran and Arafat.
The Fatah activists will be sent into the Palestinian territories after a decision is made on how to smuggle the SAM-7 missiles into the West Bank and Gaza - no easy feat, given the arms ship debacle.
Should this bother the U.S.? Isn't this Israel's problem? Don't we have enough on our hands with terrorist threats at home? The answer is that terrorism doesn't happen in a vacuum. It is a rabid disease that is indivisible and interconnected. A terrorist attack in Israel or Ireland or India affects us all, because terrorists inevitably work together globally.
Iran, which is sponsoring the missile course, and Syria, which helps support Hezbollah, are known refuges for terrorists from Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Iran reportedly is providing hideouts for some of the Al Qaeda escapees from Afghanistan.
Arafat has taken another really stupid step. By accepting weapons from Iran - and now military training for his Fatah terrorists - he has signed a deal with the devil.
The possibility that a future Palestinian state would be even in part
an Iranian client should set off alarms in Washington. The national
interest cannot afford the expansion of fundamentalist