Yediot Ahronot
Sabbath Supplement. Jan. 11, 2002. p. 18.


The Weapons Ship Represents The Turning Point In Tehran's Policy: No Longer Indirect Aid, But Direct Terror Against Israel * Palestinian Students In Europe And Pilgrims To Mecca Are Recruited Into The Iranian Hizbullah * Senior Figures In The PA Prepare For The Iranians Lists Of Injured Terrorists, An Easy Source For Recruits * Iranian Officers Arrange For The Recruits Weapons And Explosives Training And Plan Terror Attacks For Them In Israel * "Our Objective Was To Kill As Many Soldiers As Possible", Said A Member Of The Iranian Hizbullah Cell, Who Was Captured A Moment Before Committing A Terror Attack On A Border Guard Base

Ron Shaked

Translation by Jonathan Silverman

Jihad Ibrahim Albasha, age 29, a member of the Tanzim, was wounded in his leg during the gun fights in Tul Karem in the first days of the Intifada. After first aid in Tul Karen, Albasha was transferred to Rafidia Hospital in Shechem, where his condition worsened. He was flown to Turkey, treated there, and returned to his home in the village of Danaba after two months, but still in pain.

One day, Albasha received a surprise visit. Shadi Jaber, who also lived in the city, and was also wounded in the Intifada, knocked on the door of his house. "You don't need to suffer from these pains", Jaber told him. "I can arrange medical treatment for you in Iran, better care than in Tul Karem. And don't worry about money, all the travel and treatment costs are paid for by Iran".

Albasha was terribly excited, and immediately agreed to go and thanked Jaber for the offer. Before they parted Jaber noted that he was a member of the Iranian Committee for Aiding Wounded Victims of the Intifada. On the 8th of April, 2001 Albasha crossed the Allenby Bridge. On the Jordanian side of bridge Jaber waited for him, together with four other wounded victims. They traveled by taxi to one of the hotels in Amman. Four days later, at the Marca Airport near Amman, they boarded an Iranian jet. The delegation included 15 wounded Palestinians and their escorts. The Iranian Ambassador in Jordan came to wish them a safe trip, together with the representative of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Ramdani Abu Sajed. An Iranian physician, Dr. Karmi, examined the wounded men before they boarded the plane.

"We boarded the plane without tickets", Albasha told his Shin Beit interrogators, when he was question about this trip. "After five hours we landed in the Tehran airport and we were welcomed by men wearing uniforms and a group of drummers from an army band. From there they transported us to an Iranian military hospital and hospitalized us in the VIP wing, on the 10th floor.

Albasha and his wounded comrades were hospitalized in Tehran in the "Bahayat Allah" Hospital. "This is a military hospital in the authority of the Revolutionary Guards, and getting in and out of it is restricted, dependent on approvals", the Palestinian patients were told. Even before the medical treatment began, the recruitment offer came. Shadi Jaber from Tul Karen stood beside Albasha's bed and proposed that he join the Popular Committee for Support of the Intifada. "This Committee is related to the Iranian Hizbullah", Jaber explained, "when you are well, you will return to Tul Karem, and there we will work together to set up an operational infrastructure for the organization. The Iranian Hizbullah will take care of the military training. They have to way to send us weapons, but they will send us money to acquire weapons. The aim is to undertake military actions."

Albasha liked the proposal a lot. "I answered yes", he told his Shin Beit interrogators. "Because it doesn't matter to me where it comes from, the main thing is we should receive money to acquire weapons so we can start to fight".

After his discharge from the hospital, Albasha and his comrades were put through military training, in anticipation of committing acts of terror in Israel. Iranian officers, said Albasha, instructed the Palestinians in the training camps and planned their missions for them: attacks against IDF forces.

From Tehran To Tul Karem

On Monday, four days after the weapons ship Karine A was seized, Iranian President, Muhamad Khatemi, issued a call to the Islamic countries to aid the Palestinians. "It is the obligation of every Islamic country to aid the Palestinians", he said. "It is also our obligation to criticize the silence of the world in the face of the terror attacks of the state of Israel". The Iranian contribution to the Palestinian struggle doesn't stop with sympathetic speeches, and not with weapons ships. Since the start of the '90s Iran has maintained official contacts with Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Dozens of the activists from these organizations went through the military schools and training camps of the Revolutionary Guard the body responsible for exporting the Iranian revolution. There they learned explosives, guerilla warfare, and even had training in parachuting and SCUBA diving. Recently, the Iranians have not been satisfied with this. A few months ago there was a turning point in Tehran's policy: no more indirect aid for terror via Hamas and Islamic Jihad, but direct terror against Israel via the Iranian Hizbullah. This body is operated, financed, receives instructions and direction straight from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The Iranian Hizbullah is operationally in coordination with the Lebanese Hizbullah via an advance command center that the Hizbullah set up in Amman.

The Iranian Hizbullah locates the Palestinian recruits in the territories, in Arab countries, even Europe. Some pilgrims on the Haj to Mecca were recruited to the organization. In Jordan students and the unemployed, also in France and St. Petersburg in Russia Palestinian students were recruited. Wounded victims of the Intifada, who come for hospitalization in Iran in the framework of the humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people, are an additional pool, an easy one, for recruiting terrorists. The Iranian medical treatment is only a cover for recruiting Palestinians to Iranian Hizbullah. Injured Albasha, for example, returned from Tehran to Tul Karem two months ago, since then he managed to recruit a terror cell and planned a terror attack. But he did not manage to fulfill his desire. The Shin Beit managed to put its hands on him and put him in jail.

Al Razek's List

Shadi Jaber was recruited to the Iranian Hizbullah in the second month of the Intifada. He also went to Tehran on account of an injury and returned from there a terrorist. One of his missions was to convince wounded men to come for medical treatment in Iran.

Last March, during a visit he made to the West Bank, Jaber made contact with Hisham Abed Al Razek, the Palestinian Minister in charge of prisoner affairs, and with other figures in the Palestinian Authority, including Bilal Habash, the representative of the Committee for Affairs of the Wounded in Tul Karem. With the aid of these figures, he prepared a list of wounded Palestinians for his Iranian operator, Ramdani Abu Majed of the Revolutionary Guard, who also serves as a member of the Iranian Popular Committee for Coordination And Support of the Palestinian Intifada. Abu Majed went over the list and decided which of the wounded men he would offer medical treatment.

Jaber exploited his injury to go to Jordan a number of times during the past year and from there to Tehran. The Iranians even instructed him to create a cover story for his numerous trips: he was asked to approach traders in the West Bank and offer them goods from Iran.

In one of the trips he met with Najafi Abu Mahadi, a senior figure in the Iranian Hizbullah, who told him to collect information on the settlements and on the actions of IDF forces in the area of Tul Karem and Ramallah, "they sought to know wthe number of patrols, location of the bases, the number of weapons and tanks, and the location of army posts", Jaber told his interrogators. "And they told me to photograph the military installations with a vido camera, including the Liaison and Coordination Offices".

A Snapshot With Nasrallah

The Popular Conference for Support of the Palestinian Intifada took place in Tehran at the beginning of April 2001, The organizers: The Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The event took place a few days after the arrival in Iran of the group of wounded men including Albasha. And the wounded Palestinians were brought to the Conference, some in ambulances. For Albasha and the other wounded men the Conference was an opportunity to meet representatives of Islamic organizations from Egypt, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Other participants included Hizbullah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, and representatives of a number of Palestinian organizations, including Ahmed Jibril, Secretary General of the Popular Front General Headquarters, Khaled Mishal from Hamas and also a delegation from the Palestinian Authority headed by the Chairman of the Palestinian National Council, Salim Zanun and Feisal Husseini.

Jaber, who was already recruited to the Iranian Hizbullah, gave a speech in praise of Iran and Hizbullah. Albasha had his picture taken with Nasrallah, Jibril and Khaled Mishal. A souvenir.

"I talked with Jibril during the Conference dinner", Albasha told his Shin Beit interrogators. "The leader of the Popular Front told me that he had sent many weapons to the West Bank and Gaza. Perhaps some of the weapons were captured on the ship, but according to Jibril, the ship Santorini smuggled many weapons three times to the Palestinian Authority, before the Israelis captured it in May.

When he was recruited to the Iranian Hizbullah, Albasha was asked to present a request for a loan and a bank account number. Najafi Abu Mahadi himself instructed him in these matters. "Abu Mahadi came to the hospital to take me on a walk, to the book fair", Albasha said. "Mahadi sought to smuggle weapons into the West Bank, and I told him that it was impossible because of Israeli surveillance. He said he would send money for acquiring weapons and asked for my bank account number to send the money, after which he had second thoughts and asked me to open a new account in another bank. Mahadi also was interested in the price of weapons. I told him that weapons are expensive, an M16 rifle costs around $5000, a Kalatchnikov is a little less. Before we parted I gave him my ID card number and my bank account number at the Cairo Amman Bank in Tul Karem."

Later on, Abu Maadi instructed Albasha and his comrades in the terror cell to set up in Tul Karem a building company, which would serve as a cover for financing the military activities. Mahadi even gave the cell a name "Katib Alaouda", Brigades of Return, an organization that already existed in Gaza.

Rifles And Shish Kebab

In May, after Albasha recuperated from an operation in Tehran, he was brought by the men of the Revolutionary Guard to the city of Kushan, four hours from Tehran, to a "Palestine Festival" in one of the city's movie theaters. After the festival, together with other recruits and a Hamas representative in Iran, who called himself "Abu Ahmed", Albasha was brought to a training base of the Revolutionary Gard near the city. The training included firing Kalatchnikovs, machine guns, and pistols.

On another occasion, the group was brought to "Snow Mountain" near an Iranian military base. And also there on the snow filled slopes, Mahadi gave operational instruction to the comrades of the terror cell: "you should not fire from far away. It is preferable to fire successfully and with results. You must plan actions well. You have to set up terror cells, each one with only five members, and divide into an attacking force and a covering force, so it will be possible to to attack the enemy and cause losses.".

At the beginning of June, just before he returned to Tul Karem, Albasha was briefed again by his Iranian operator. He received directives regarding arrangements for transferring money, setting up the terror cell, buying weapons and committing attacks against Israeli targets.

Albasha returned and immediately began to work industriously. He recruited five friends to his terror cell, including a Fatah activist and two graduates of the Palestinian security apparatus. One of whom, Ahmed Said Zavah, was in the naval forces, had experience operating weapons, preparing explosive charges and combat. Zavah was appointed as the trainer of the cell. He turned to weapons dealers and sought to acquire M16 rifles and hand grenades. The dealers agreed to sell, at a price per rifle between 16,000 shekels and 18,000 shekels and for a hand grenade between 300 and 350 shekels.

"Did you hold a meeting including all the members of the cell"? asked the Shin Beit interrogators, and Albasha replied: "All of the members of the cell, we went for a picnic, and cooked over a barbeque in a park near Azvat Jarar near Tul Karem".

Between servings of shish kebab, the members of the terror cell planned to attack with gunfire, and hand grenades the Border Guard base in the Coordination and Liaison command center in Tul Karem. The plan was to get inside the base from the Israeli side with a vehicle bearing Israeli license plates. "Our objective was to cause many losses, to kill as many soldiers as possible on the base", admitted Albasha in his interrogation.

The members of the cell made patrols and lookouts on the base, in order to check the order of guard duty in anticipation of the attack. Albasha planned to go once more to Iran before the attack in order to receive final approval for the plan of the attack on the Border Guard base. But in Israel they did not approve his departure for Jordan. A few days afterward his operator Mahadi phoned him from Tehran, but Albasha did not answer the phone in his home in the village of Danaba. Albasha now sits in a jail cell, in coming days he will be sentenced. He and Jaber are only the tip of the iceberg. Israel already explained to the Palestinians that it will no longer permit departures of wounded Palestinians to hospitals in Iran, to the disappointment of the Palestinian Authority leaders. They, for their part, continue to claim: "the wounded men go to Tehran for medical treatment and rehabilitation and not for purposes of terror". But in light of the decisive evidence, in this matter even the Americans find it hard to believe them.