Friday, November 6, 2009

How Truthful Are UN Reports?

On October 30th, 2009, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon released a report to the UN Security Council in which he said the United Nations took the Israeli allegations about weapons smuggling to Hezbollah seriously, but lacked the ability to independently verify the information. Ban wrote in the report, that the Lebanese government had not informed the UN of a single incident of weapons smuggling to its territory. Michael Williams special envoy for the UN denied knowledge of alleged arms smuggling to the Hezbollah in Lebanon.

In the UN Report it fails to mention that on October 13th 2009 after a tip-off from Israeli intelligence the German freighter Hansa India was discovered carrying Iranian arms and ammunition hidden within containers destined for Lebanon, the Berlin government ordered it to sail straight to Malta where the containers were unloaded and found to contain the Iranian arms.

A mere two days after the publication of the report early Wednesday morning Nov. 3rd, 2009, the cargo ship Francop sailing under an Antiguan flag was stopped by the Israeli Navy some 100 miles west of the Israeli coast near Cyprus in rough seas. The Commander of the Israeli frigate asked permission from the ships captain to board the ship for inspection in accordance with UN Resolution 1701. Once the sailors were invited on board they inspected several suspicious containers and discovered they contained a large hidden consignment of Iranian weaponry bound for Lebanon and the Hezbollah. At a news briefing on Wednesday Nov 4th, 2009, the Israeli Navy commander Brig.-Gen Ronnie Ben-Yehuda acknowledged the interception at sea.

It has been revealed that Iran's national shippers, loaded the Iranian ship, Visea, formerly called “Iran Zanian” and is owned by the official Iranian shipping Corporation IRISL, either at Bandar Abbas or Bandar Imam Khomeini in Iran. It had set sail from Iran under the watchful eye of US and Israeli satellites on the 14th of October 2009. The Visea next docked at Jabel Ali in Dubai on the 18th of October. The Visea headed out of the Straits of Hormuz and into the Gulf of Oman shadowed by the guided missile cruiser USS Anzio of the US Navy's Task Force 151 under the command of Rear Adm. Scott Sanders. The purpose of this task force is to prevent piracy and to monitor Iranian arms smuggling. It has been reported that Israeli military intelligence were also kept informed of the Francop's movements by the Task Force, including the projected times of its passage through the Suez Canal and arrival in the Mediterranean. It has been assumed that both Tehran and Hezbollah expected it to be seized, although they did not know by whom.

The Iranian ship sailed into the Gulf of Aden and around the Saudi Arabian peninsular and through the Red Sea and entered the Suez Canal, reaching the Egyptian port of Damietta on Monday, Oct. 26, 2009. It has been assumed that the Egyptian Navy monitored the arms ship as it passed through the canal to the Mediterranean. However the Egyptians allowed the arms shipment to be offloaded from the ship at the Egyptian port and left for trans-shipment on the docks. The Visea immediately left for the British port of Felixtowe after unloading the containers and from there to Hamburg, Germany. It has been reported that after the seizure of the illicit cargo an international operation to apprehend the Iranian ship Visea was instigated.

The Francop, a German-owned ship operated by a Cypriot company that serves as a “feeder ship,” a ship used to shuttle cargo between regular ports of call, docked at the Egyptian port of Damietta on Nov. 1, 2009. Iran has taken to using these commercial "feeder" vessels such as the Francop to disguise its vast traffic of illicit arms to Lebanon. Ships that sail frequently on regular tours around the Mediterranean ports are less likely to arouse attention. It is by this route of deception that Iran has supplied Hezbollah with thousands of tons of arms and ammunition in the last few months. The route of the Francop begins at Damietta, thence to Limassol in Cyprus and from there to the ports of Beirut, Lebanon, Latakia, Syria, and back. The containers and their hidden weaponry, which had stood on the Egyptian controlled docks for five days, were placed on board. Neither the owners nor the crew knew about the concealed arms cargo in the containers, which had no mention of the weaponry in the ship's manifests. These fictitious documents, which were never checked by the Egyptians, were left behind together with the containers by the Iranian Visea before her departure.

The Francop then set sail from the Egyptian port of Damietta with 300 containers, in which some 50 of them had hundreds of tons of Iranian arms for Hezbollah hidden inside them. Under the watchful eye of both US Naval Intelligence of the Sixth Fleet and by Israeli Intelligence and Israeli Navy warships. It was decided not to take any action at that time because of the ongoing joint US Israeli “Juniper Cobra” military exercise. American and Israeli commanders agreed to hold off seizing the ship until a few hours after the two-week war game ended on Tuesday the 3rd of November. Furthermore the US Chief of Staff was forbidden to embark on direct military action against an Iranian target on direct instructions from Washington. The American administration was fearful of provoking a fresh crisis with Tehran and they were reluctant to act openly so long as nuclear negotiations are still in progress.

Therefore the Israeli government realizing the importance of the Intelligence reports decided to act alone in order to prevent the weaponry reaching Lebanon and Hezbollah. After the inspection at sea by the Israeli Navy and the discovery on board of hidden weapons the ship was ordered to set sail for the port of Ashdod.

Upon arrival it's load of containers were unloaded and searched and some 50 containers were found to be secretly carrying a large consignment of arms concealed between sacks of polyethylene pellets.

What was found was some 500 tons of smuggled arms included boxes of 7.62mm ammunition for the hundreds of Russian made AK-47s assault rifles, hand grenades, 122mm and 107mm Katyusha rockets, Iranian manufactured 120mm, 80mm and 60mm mortar shells and anti-tank missiles inside the containers!

Though US-Israeli intelligence and naval cooperation has made it increasingly more difficult for the Iranians to smuggle arms to the Hamas and Hezbollah, Tehran continues to mask their shipments of weaponry as civilian merchandize - hoping to draw less attention to its deliveries.

In his interview after the capture of the illicit arms shipment Brig. Ben-Yehuda related how this latest consignment was a much larger and deadlier amount of weaponry than that carried by the Palestinian arms ship Karin-A. The Palestinian owned ship was intercepted on September 12th, 2002 in the Red Sea by Israeli forces in Operation Noah’s Ark.
It was later proven, from documents captured in the Israel operation "Defensive Wall" – Homat Magen against the “Palestinians” in the Palestinian Authority Offices in the “Muhkater” in Ramala. That Arafat personally authorized the use of $15 million dollars taken from UN and EU funds earmarked for the improvement of Palestinian infrastructure to purchase the 50 tons of equipment on the Karin-A. These weapons included Katyusha rockets, mortars, sniper rifles, bullets, anti-tank mines, anti-tank missiles, as well as over two and a half tons of pure explosives.

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