Imagini ale paginilor

Syrians from the Golan who, on top of smuggling weapons and drugs, were spying on Israel and passing classified information to Hizballah contacts.27 In fact, Hizballah operatives are known to have gone to Europe, where they picked up false identification and travel documents and continue on to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza to train and assist Palestinian terrorist groups.

The Israeli navy's seizure of the Karine-Ă weapons boat-in which Hizballah played a central role, according to evidence that State Department spokesman Richard Boucher called “compelling"—is not the only example of weapons smuggling tied to Syria and its proxies. In December 2001, for example, Jordan's State Security Court tried three Islamists accused of smuggling weapons secured from Syria to the West Bank to be used in attacks on Israelis.28 Two other defendants remain at large, including Abd al-Muti Abu Miliq; Abu Miliq is a Palestinian with Syrian travel documents who was sentenced to fifteen years of hard labor in absentia in the September 2000 trial of twenty-eight Islamists plotting terrorist attacks at the turn of the millennium.29 In June 2000, Israel arrested a Lebanese citizen traveling from Syria to the West Bank via the Allenby Bridge as he attempted to smuggle weapons—including katyusha rockets—in his vehicle.30 In January 2002, an Israeli court unsealed indictments against five Druze residents of the Golan who were caught smuggling Claymore roadside bombs and hand grenades across the Syrian-Israeli border. The weapons, bearing operating instructions for achieving maximum casualties and damage to “people and vehicles,” were to be delivered to the West Bank.31

In February 2002, Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres told a press conference outside the UN in New York that with Syria's blessing Hizballah had deployed 10,000 rockets capable of penetrating well into Israel to southern Lebanon.32 The Christian Science Monitor reported in February that “well informed sources” referred to “truck[load] after truckload" of weapons that arrived in southern Lebanon from May 2000 to December 2001.33

Hizballah also remains a direct threat to U.S interests. According to senior U.S. officials, Sheikh Nasrallah and Imad Mugniyeh are known to be working together in planning terror attacks globally and across the United Nations certified Blue Line separating Israel and Lebanon. Hizballah operatives continue to surveil US interests (among others) and plan attacks. Hizballah cells are active not only in the Middle East, but in East and Southest Asia, Africa, Europe, South and Central America, and, as the case against Mohammad and Chawki Hammoud in North Carolina recently highlighted, the United States.

Hizballah is not the only terrorist group of global reach to enjoy the fruits of Syrian state sponsorship. Just five days after Syria assumed the rotating presidency of the U.Ñ. Security Council, Damascus-based PIJ leader Ramadan Abdullah Shallah claimed responsibility for the June 5, 2002, suicide bus bombing at the Megiddo junction in northern Israel that killed 17 people and wounded over 40 more. 34 In interviews with al Jazeera and other media outlets, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres stated that Shallah in fact ordered the Megiddo attack from his Damascus headquarters.35 In fact, Shallah and other PIJ leaders in Damascus maintained close contact with a number of PIJ operatives on the ground in the West Bank. One such operative was Tarek Az Aldin, a senior PIJ operative from the Jenin area, who served as a coordinator for several PIJ terrorist cells in the West Bank as well as "the link to the movement's central headquarters in Syria.” 36 Another Damascus-West Bank link was Taabat Mardawi, a senior PIJ operative re


27 NA, “Israel Annouces the Arrest of Two Syrians in the Golan," Al Sharq Al Awsat, August 8, 2002

28 John Kifner, “Jordan, Holding off a Neighbor's Wildfire, Plays Down an Arms-Smuggling Case," The New York Times, March 22, 2002

29 NA, “Three Islamists tried in Jordan deny planning anti-Israeli Attacks, AFP, December 24, 2001

0 NA, “Jordan Arrests Three Armed Men Who Tried to Infiltrate Israel,” AFP, July 21, 2001 31 Prime Minister's Media Advisor, “ISA Uncovers Golan Weapons Infiltration,” Office of the Prime Minister of Israel, January 9, 2002

32 Nicholas Blanford, “Emboldened By US Jibes, Hizbullah Prepares For War", The Christian Science Monitor, February 8, 2002

33 Nicholas Blanford, "Émboldened By US Jibes, Hizbullah Prepares For War”, The Christian Science Monitor, February 8, 2002

34 NA, “Bloody Irony in Syria's Security Council Presidency,” The Houston Chronicle, June 18, 2002

35 Herb Keinon, David Rudge and Melissa Radler, “Peres: Syria to Blame for Attack," The Jerusalem Post, June 7, 2002

36 NA, “Arrest of a Leader Islamic Jihad Operative,” IDF Spokesperson Press Release, June 20, 2002, at

sponsible for the death of 20 people and injury of 150 others, who was instructed and operated by the PIJ_headquarters in Syria, with which he was in contact.” 37

Documents seized by Israel indicate that Ramadan Shallah himself transfers funds from Damascus to the personal bank accounts of individual PIJ terrorists such as Bassam al Saadi, an operative responsible for PIJ finances in Jenin.38 In one case, Shallah sent Saadi $127,000 to "aid the families of those killed or arrested,” but the funds somehow “disappeared.” This, and another case in which $31,000 failed to reach Ali Safuri, have created significant internal rifts with the organization over charges of internal corruption.39

Beyond harboring PIJ leaders who order, plan and finance terror attacks, Syria actively promotes BIJ terrorism by facilitating terrorist training by its proxies on its soil. Through the interrogations of Nasser Aweiss and other senior al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and PIJ operatives, Israeli authorities learned that members of al Aqsa, PIJ and other Palestinian groups have been undergoing terrorist training in Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command (PFLP-GC) camps south of Damascus. Traveling through Jordan, the Palestinian trainees are met at the Jordanian-Syrian border by Syrian officials who check their names against a pre-approved list and escort them to camps run by Ahmed Jibril's PFLP-GC. Iranian-funded PFLP-GC instructors train the Palestinians in terrorist tactics, while Syrian officials remain on the sidelines assuring the trainees are properly cared for. Ziad Nafa, a former PFLP-GC member, told a Jordanian court in February that one of the thirteen suspects on trial for plotting to bomb the U.S. embassy in Amman asked him to arrange terrorist training for the group in Syria.40 Aware of this and other similar training camps, Senator Bob Graham, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence announced in July 2002 that the “training camps that have developed particularly in Syria and Lebanon where the next generation of terrorists are being prepared” pose an even greater risk to the United States than

Beyond Hizballah, Hamas and PIJ, Syria supports the most radical elements in Lebanon's lawless Palestinian refugee camps and encourages their engagement in anti-Israeli terrorism. For example, both the Return Brigades (Kata’ed al Awda), an amalgam of secular and Islamist Palestinian groups dominated by Fatah radicals from Nablus, Jenin and Tulkarm, and al-Nathir (the Harbinger) another radical Fatah offshoot, have been linked to renegade Fatah Colonel Munir al Maqdah (Abu Hassan), who is closely linked to Syria and Iran.42 The Return Brigades has taken credit for several shootings such the February 19, 2002, ambush that killed six IDF soldiers and the February 27, 2002, murder of an Israeli in the Atarot industrial zone of Jerusalem.43 In August 2002, the Return Brigades reportedly tried to assassinate the head of PA General Intelligence in a roadside shooting attack between Nablus and Jenin near Tubas.44 Al Maqdah, whose headquarters is in the Ayn alHilweh refugee camp in Lebanon, was sentenced to death in absentia by a Jordanian court in 2001, and is also wanted by Lebanese authorities.45 PA officials believe Al Maqdah was behind a Return Brigades leaflet distributed in Nablus and Jenin in August 2002 announcing that several Israeli leaders were on its “hit list.'

.” 46 According to a mainstream Fatah official, al Maqdah “has very good ties

Iraq. 41

37 NA, “Jenin, the Capital of the Palestinina Suicide Terrorists,” Israel Defense Forces, April 18, 2002, Appendix C: Characteristics of Two Arch-Terrorists from the Jenin Area Captured by the IDF, at

3* NA, “The Cooperation Between Fatah and the PA Security Apparatuses with PIJ and Hamas in the Jenin Area,” Israel Defense Forces, April 9, 2002, at english/main-index.stm

39 NA, “The Cooperation Between Fatah and the PA Security Apparatuses with PIJ and Hamas in the Jenin Area,” Israel Defense Forces, April 9, 2002, at english/main-index.stm

40 Daniel Sobelman, “Jordan to Indict 18 on Terror-linked Charges,Ha’aretz Daily, February 7, 2002

41 Janine Zacharia, “Terrorist Camps in Lebanon, Syria Bigger Threat to U.S. Than Iraq,The Jerusalem Post, July 8, 2002

42 Khaled Abu Toameh, “New Fatah Groups Controlled by PLO Dissident in Lebanon,The Jerusalem Post, August 26, 2002

43 Dan Grushkin, “Palestinian Gunmen Kill Six in Ambush on Israeli Army Checkpoint,” Agence France Presse, February 19, 2002; NA “Eight People Die as Mideast Violence Continues Unabated,” Agence France Presse, February 27, 2002

44 Khaled Abu Toameh, “New Fatah Groups Controlled by PLO Dissident in Lebanon,” The Jerusalem Post, August 26, 2002

45 Hugh Dellios, “Six Get Death in Jordan Terrorism Plot,” Chicago Tribune, September 19, 2000

46 Khaled Abu Toameh, “New Fatah Groups Controlled by PLO Dissident in Lebanon,The Jerusalem Post, August 26, 2002

with Syria and Iran. These countries pay him millions of dollars. He is using the money to undermine the local Fatah leadership and establish his own bases of power here.” 47 According to press reports, Iran has traditionally funded Palestinian dissident groups in the Lebanese refugee camps, including al Maqdah, through the Institute of the Palestinian Martyrs.48 This is confirmed by Israeli authorities, who discovered al Maqdah's link to terrorist elements in the West Bank when they arrested Nasser Aweis and Jamal Ahwal. Al Maqdah apparently sent Aweis between $40,000 and $50,000 for weapons, expenses and bomb-making materials, and Aweis reported back to al Maqdah by telephone on the success of his attacks.49 Ahwal reportedly received an average of $5,000 a week from al Maqdah for similar purposes.50 Al Maqdah also funded Ahmed Abu Hamidan (abu Fahdi), a Colonel in the PA's National Security Organization who manufactured explosives and supplied, funded and directed terrorists to carry out attacks.51

Syria's proactive state sponsorship of terrorism carries over into Syrian-dominated Lebanon as well. As of August 2002, Iran was reported to have financed and established terrorist training camps in the Syrian-controlled Beka'a Valley to train Hizballah, Hamas, PIJ and PFLP-GC terrorists to use rockets such as the short range Fajr-5 missile and the SA-7 anti-aircraft rocket.52 The camps, including one in Khuraj near the Syrian border, were reported to be under the command of Iranian Republican Guard Corps (IRGC) General Ali Reza Tamzar, commander of IRGC activity in the Beka'a Valley.53 According to a “Western intelligence agency” report, which puts the cost of the Iranian program at $50 million, Tamzar's IRGC detachment also trains the Lebanese and Palestinian terrorists to carry out “underwater suicide operations.” 54 The Iranian terrorist training program was the result of a secret meeting held in the Tehran suburb of Darjah on June 1, 2002, in advance of a two-day conference in support of the Palestinian Intifada held in Tehran on June 1-2, 2002.55

Furthermore, the terrorist activity facilitated by Syria in Lebanon is not limited to Hizballah and the motley crew of Palestinian terrorist groups operating freely in Lebanon. Recently, al Qaeda terrorists reportedly have been taking advantage of the lack of central rule, nests of terrorism like the Ayn al-Hilweh refugee camp, and the willing assistance of sympathetic groups to provide al Qaeda members shelter and support.56 Some 150–200 al Qaeda operatives have reportedly found refuge in the Ayn al Hilweh refugee camp, and bin Laden's son and wife are said to have come and gone from Syria several times since September 2001.57 According to American and European intelligence officials cited in The Washington Post, Hizballah is “increasingly teaming up with al Qaeda on logistics and training for terrorist operations." 5

.” 58 The alliance is described as “ad hoc,” “tactical,” and “informal,” involving mid- and low-level operatives.59 American and European intelligence officials cited in the Post reiterated this concern just last week, noting the most worrisome” of al Qaeda's new “tactical, ad-hoc alliances” is with Hizballah.60 Acknowledging that the cooperation between these Sunni and Shi’a groups marks a shift from their "years of rivalry,” the intelligence officials said al Qaeda and Hizballah have in fact “recently cooperated on explosives and tactics training, money laundering, weapons smuggling and acquiring forged documents.61

47 Khaled Abu Toameh, "New Fatah Groups Controlled by PLO Dissident in Lebanon,The Jerusalem Post, August 26, 2002

48 NA, “PLO Bids to Win Back Refugee Support,” Agence France-Presse, July 5, 1994; Muntasser Abdallah, “Iran Pours Thousands of Dollars in Lebanon's Palestinian Camps,” Agence France-Presse, June 21, 2002

49 NA, “Senior Fatah Militant in Lebanon Directed and Financed Serious Terror Attacks in Territories and Israel,” Press Release Communicated by Israeli Prime Minister's Media Advisor, May 26, 2002, at

50 NA, “Senior Fatah Militant in Lebanon Directed and Financed Serious Terror Attacks in Territories and Israel,” Press Release Communicated by Israeli Prime Minister's Media Advisor, May 26, 2002, at

5i NA, “The Link Between the Palestinian Authority and Terrorist Activity,” Press Release from IDF Spokesman, April 26, 2002, at

52 NA, “Iran Establishes Rocket Training Centers in Lebanon,” Middle East Newsline, August 8, 2002

53 NA, “Iran Establishes Rocket Training Centers in Lebanon,” Middle East Newsline, August 8, 2002

54 Nicholas Blanford, “Report Claims Iran Running Bekaa Training Camp,Daily Star (Beirut), August 13, 2002 (the article also appeared in Arabic in the Beirut daily An Nahar, August 13, 2002)

55 Nicholas Blanford, “Report Claims Iran Running Bekaa Training Camp,Daily Star (Beirut), August 13, 2002 (the article also appeared in Arabic in the Beirut daily An Nahar, August 13, 2002)

56 John Cloud, Bruce Crumley, Helen Gibson, Scott MacLeod, Matt Rees, Elaine Shannon, “What Is Al-Qaeda Without Its Boss? The Answer: No Matter What Happens to Bin Laden, the Group Still Has Many Tentacles,Time, November 26, 2001, P.50

57 Zeev Schiff, “Syria has allowed hundreds of Qaida men to settle in Lebanon," Haaretz, September 2, 2002

58 Dana Priest and Douglas Farah, "Terror Alliance Has U.S. Worried; Hezbollah, al Qaeda Seen Joining Forces," The Washington Post, June 30, 2002

Additionally, Lebanon's willingness to harbor armed terrorist groups and militias and its tolerance of their activities comes at a cost to its own internal security. Fighting between various Islamist, Palestinian and Lebanese factions—including Hamas, Asbat al Ansar, and a collection of groups affiliated with or breakaways from Fatah-has turned the Ayn al-Hiweh refugee camp near Sidon into a battleground where children play with spent bullet cartridges and rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) casings.62 Some of the radical Islamists resisting arrest are reported to be al Qaeda insurgents who found refuge in the Ayn al Hilweh refugee camp.63 Hizballah and the Shi'ite Amal militia have engaged in firefights in south Lebanon as they vie for influence over villages in the unpoliced south.64

Convinced his group will be shielded from the war on terrorism, Hizballah's Nasrallah publicly boasted that “Lebanon doesn't put pressure on us, it tries to defend us.”

.” 65 Nonetheless, the State Department refrained from listing Lebanon as a state sponsor of terrorism or even taking Lebanon to task in Patterns of Global Terrorism 2001. In fact, Patterns qualifies Lebanese support for Palestinian terrorist groups, noting the legitimate legal status they enjoy in Beirut.

It should be noted that Beirut is governed vicariously through Damascus, and to date the United States has satisfied itself with vicariously covering the issue of Lebanese sponsorship of terrorism under Syria's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism. Similar technical considerations prevented the State Department from designating the Taliban's Afghanistan as a state sponsor of terrorism, despite its now universally recognized role in serving as the premier breading, planning and training ground for international terrorism. In the wake of September 11, Lebanese support for Syrian proxy terrorist groups—in the form of safe-haven, training camps and more-needs to be revisited.

A review of Syrian activity post-September 11 provides compelling evidence that the Assad regime remains an active sponsor of international terrorism, operating on many fronts and via many organizations. Indeed, of the seven state sponsors on the State Department's list, Syria rivals Iran for conducting the most frenetic activity in support of terrorism. Syria cooperates closely with fellow state sponsor Iran in its support of Hizballah and Palestinian terrorist groups. While the Syrians have offered some assistance in terms of intelligence on al Qaeda, Syria has apparently decided to reject out of hand President Bush's offer of amnesty vis-a-vis the antiIsrael terrorism most central to Syria's regional policy. Moreover, Syria's continued development of chemical weapons, coupled with its sponsorship of international terrorism, makes it an overly qualified candidate for inclusion in the “axis of evil.” 66


With its longstanding support for terrorism, both pre- and post-September 11, Syria poses a unique challenge to U.S. antiterror strategy, especially as Damascus continues to sponsor terrorism despite President Bush's June 24, 2002, demand that Syria “choose the right side in the war on terror.” 67 Unlike Iran-whose leaders orchestrate public chants of “Death to America, death to Israel” and thereby provide rhetorical context to their sponsorship of terrorism-Damascus proclaims its desire for warm ties with the United States and its commitment to a “comprehensive” peace with Israel. Specifically, Syria has benefited from its role in the Arab-Israeli peace process and its suzerainty over Lebanon. These factors have for years combined to provide Syria with a measure of protection against U.S. (and Israeli) antiterror initiatives.

59 Dana Priest and Douglas Farah, “Terror Alliance Has U.S. Worried; Hezbollah, al Qaeda Seen Joining Forces,The Washington Post, June 30, 2002

60 Suan Schmidt and Dana Priest, “U.S. Fears Low-Level al Qaeda Attacks,” The Washington Post, September 9, 2002

61 Suan Schmidt and Dana Priest, “U.S. Fears Low-Level al Qaeda Attacks,” The Washington Post, September 9, 2002

62 NA, “Tense Situation Between Hamas and Fatah in Lebanon after Fifth Ayn al Hilweh Bombing,” Al Sharq Al Awsat, August 7, 2002; Nicholas Blanford, “Islamic Insurgents Stage Last Stand in Ain al-Hilweh,The Daily Star (Beirut), August 14, 2002

63 NA, “Al Qaida, Fatah Clash in Lebanon," Middle East Newsline, August 14, 2002

64 NA, “Tiff between Hizballah and Amal leads to open fire in the South Beirut,” Al Hayat, 08-23-02

65 Frederic Bothorel, “Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, Leader of Hizballah: 'Arafat is not the Legitimate Representative of the Palestinian People,El Mundo (Madrid), December 18, 2001

66 See Dany Shoham, “Poisoned Missiles: Syria's Doomsday Deterrent: All weaponized and some place to go,Middle East Quarterly, Vol IX, No 4, Fall 2002 and Dany Shoham "Guile, Gas, and Germs: Syria's Ultimate Weapons: They built them on the sly, with help from the West,” Middle East Quarterly, Vol IX, No 3, Summer 2002; See wmd / world / syria /al-safir.htm for commercial satellite photos of Syria's Al Safir SCUD Base and Chemical Weapons Depot.

In the wake of September 11, however, the goal of compelling change in Syrian support for terrorism must become a higher U.S. priority than ever before, in order to check Syria's own sponsorship and cut off Iran's outlet to terrorist groups in Lebanon. Only with creative and persistent effort can Washington compel Damascus to discard its use of terrorism-by-proxy. Any such effort must incorporate measures to allow Syria to save face while demanding it jettison terrorism as a state policy and shut down local terrorist groups. Having said that, Syrian must be held accountable for any continued double-dealing, i.e. providing some measure of cooperation in the war on al Qaeda while fanning the flames of other terrorist groups of global reach. As the United States considers what carrots and sticks to apply in its effort to motivate Syria, it should consider the need to apply inducements and consquences in tandem and in gradations: small carrots for small gestures, large sticks for large infractions.

The Syria Accountability Act represents a long overdue effort to hold Syria accountable for is sponsorship of terrorism, its development of chemical weapons, its illegal smuggling of $1.1. billion in illicit Iraqi oil in violation of UN resolutions, its procurement of military hardware and spare parts for the Iraqi military, and its ongoing occupation of Lebanon.68 In fact, despite this activity Syria remains the only State Sponsor of terrorism not subject to trade or investment bans, nor are Syrian diplomats subject to the same travel restrictions as diplomats from other states listed as sponsoring terrorism.

President Bush and a host of other senior officials have threatened to take Syria to task for its continued belligerent behavior, but have yet to follow through. The result is that American warnings and threats are not heard by the likes of Bashar al Assad, Yasir Arafat and even Saddam Hussein. Our inaction has caused us to diminish and devalue to power of our word, be it from the Oval Office, Foggy Bottom or the Hill. We have become background noise. Already, Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq al Sharaa boasts that “nobody can call Syria to account.” 69 He is wrong: we can, and we should.

In tandem with other economic, diplomatic and even military measures, the Syria Accountability Act would go a long way toward coaxing Damascus to shed its support for terrorist groups and fully engage in the war on terrorism and the quest for peace in the Middle East. 70

The administration should build on the President's June 24, 2002, speech and deliver a clear cut message to senior Syrian officials—presumably in private—that groups like Hizballah and Hamas are, like al Qaeda, legitimate targets in the war on terrorism, and that continued sponsorship of such groups will come at a steep price. In the event Syria fails to respond to the President's message, the administration should follow through with punitive measures.


Critics of the Syria Accountability Act articulate four basic arguments, each of which is flawed:

67 “President Bush Calls for New Palestinian Leadership,” at news/releases/2002/06/20020624-3.html

68 Syria's illicit oil trade with Iraq best exemplifies the ever-warming relationship between the regimes of Bashar al-Assad and Saddam Hussein. The 150,000-barrel-per-day Syrian pipeline into which the illicit Iraqi oil is pumped earns each country around $1.1 billion a year. Assad reportedly promised Secretary of State Colin Powell several times during their meeting in February 2001 that he would register the Iraqi oil under the UN's oil-for-food program; nevertheless, Syria has continued to pump the oil illicitly, undermining UN Security Council Resolution 1382 even as Syria assumed a seat on that council on January 1, 2002.

69 Nicholas Blanford, “Syria Worries US Won't Stop at Iraq,” The Christian Science Monitor, September 9, 2002

10 For a review of some of these options, see Matthew Levitt. “Syria and the War on Terrorism: A Post 9-11 Assessment,” PolicyWatch numbers 595 and 596, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, January 2002, at

81-812 D-00--3

« ÎnapoiContinuați »