|Hossein Dehghan standing alongside
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nassrallah
The Times of London is reporting in Sunday’s editions (behind a paywall) that the Iranian drone flew over Israel for more than three hours before it was shot down, and sent back to Iran live pictures of Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor and of preparations for the US-Israel joint anti-missile exercise.
The three-hour drone flight was initially downplayed by Israeli officials red-faced over the shocking breach of their airspace.
Even the drone’s ultimate interception by an F-16 jet was botched — it took two tries for the pilot to down the unmanned plane.
An Israeli defense source blamed the drone’s infiltration on its “unfamiliar stealth elements.”
An Israeli military observer asked: “How could we defend this country from thousands of rockets and missiles if we can’t block a single Iranian drone?”
The drone is said to have been a new Shahed-129, unveiled by Tehran last month. It has a range of up to 1,200 miles and a flight duration of 24 hours.
Hezbollah vowed to continue drone surveillance flights.
Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, a Hezbollah leader, said in a televised address that the drone was built in Iran, launched in Lebanon, and conducted a reconnaissance of “sensitive and important locations.”
He claimed the Dimona nuclear facility in the Negev desert was one of the sites it overflew.
Hezbollah’s TV station broadcast animated footage detailing the drone’s flight, saying it flew south over the Mediterranean, avoiding detection by Israeli radar before reaching the Gaza Strip.
The drone appears to have flown unseen over Gaza before proceeding to the Negev, where it was shot down. The aircraft had traveled 200 miles, the station claimed.
Nasrallah claimed the Ayoub drone was designed and manufactured in Iran and assembled in Lebanon, denying reports that the drone was a Russian design.
The Hezbollah leader said the drone was sent as a response to what he referred to as Israel’s violations of Lebanese airspace since 2006.
“This flight was not our first will not be our last, and we give assurances we can reach any point we want. We have the right to dispatch recon planes over occupied Palestine at any time,” Nasrallah said.
But at least one expert is unconcerned.Hezbollah has been flying drones over Israel for years, said Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations, who specializes in drone technology proliferation and the Middle East.
“That it happened again is absolutely insignificant,” he said.
He described Nasrallah’s comments as blustering and largely empty.
“Israel usually tracks these drones as they come across the border and often doesn’t bother to shoot them down,” Zenko said. “They just want to see what Hezbollah thinks it can do.”
Drones like the one shot down on Saturday cannot even be piloted until someone has “line control” of the device, or is at least within 50 kilometers of it, he said.
“To call them rinky-dink would be polite,” he said. “The drones that Iranians display at airshows or that they tout for sale, defense industry press people describe them as crude.”These drones don’t have “hard points,” or brackets, on which ammunition can be fixed, Zenko said, but they do have the ability to conduct surveillance. It’s unclear if the Iranians have drones that can do surveillance in real time, he added.
That’s easy for him to say. He’s thousands of miles away….
A still image taken from Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) video footage shows what they say is a small unidentified aircraft shot down in a mid-air interception after it crossed into southern Israel October 6, 2012. Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah acknowledged on October 11, 2012, sending a drone aircraft which was shot down last weekend after flying some 25 miles (55 km) into Israel. Image taken October 6, 2012.
Credit: Reuters/IDF via Reuters TVBy Mariam Karouny
BEIRUT | Thu Oct 11, 2012 4:49pm EDT
(Reuters) – Lebanese Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah acknowledged on Thursday sending a drone aircraft that was shot down last weekend after flying some 25 miles into Israel.
Nasrallah said in a televised speech that the drone’s parts were manufactured in Iran and it was assembled by members of the Shi’ite Muslim militant movement in Lebanon. He confirmed a statement by Israel’s prime minister earlier in the day saying that Hezbollah was behind the drone flight.
Wall Street Journal..
02 August ’12..
When terrorists struck in Bulgaria last month, killing five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver, Jerusalem immediately accused Hezbollah and its Iranian paymasters of the crime. Tehran and Hezbollah, as always, denied it. But no matter who carried out this atrocity on European Union territory, the EU’s continued refusal to put Hezbollah on its terror list is simply indefensible.
Not designating the group as a terrorist organization gives the pioneers of Islamist suicide bombings the opportunity to organize, recruit and raise funds throughout the Continent. There are about 950 Hezbollah members and supporters in Germany alone, according to Berlin’s domestic intelligence service. Hezbollah has also sent operatives from Europe to Israel for terror attacks.
Placing the group on the EU’s terrorist list would allow authorities to freeze Hezbollah assets and increase cross-border cooperation in fighting their crimes. Raising or providing funds for Hezbollah terrorists within EU territory would become a criminal offense. Police and judicial authorities would have greater powers to work with their colleagues in other member states, for example in sharing evidence or information about movements and activities of Hezbollah operatives. Law enforcement agencies would also have more possibilities to investigate and curtail Hezbollah activities in the EU, such as by suppressing the recruitment of new members.
When Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman last week urged Europe to finally do the right thing, the foreign minister of Cyprus, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, had the unenviable task of having to enunciate the EU’s incomprehensible position: “Should there be tangible evidence of Hezbollah engaging in acts of terrorism, the EU would consider listing the organization,” Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis said during a joint press conference in Brussels.
Can there really be any reasonable doubt among EU officials about the true nature of Hezbollah? Back in 1983, 58 French peacekeeping troops alongside 241 U.S. marines were butchered in Hezbollah suicide bombings in Beirut, followed by the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in the Lebanese capital, according to U.S. officials. Argentina accused the group of killing 85 people in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, underscoring its global reach.
Hezbollah also supports organizations that are already on the EU terrorist list, such as Hamas. In addition, Syrian regime defectors have revealed that thousands of Hezbollah men (and Iranians) are in Syria as “military consultants” for President Bashar Assad, keeping themselves busy killing protestors. They supplied the same murderous services to Iran to put down the 2009 “Green Revolution.” And for decades Hezbollah has terrorized hundreds of thousands of Israeli civilians, indiscriminately raining missiles on men, women and children, murdering scores in the process.
This is why the U.S., Canada and Australia, as well as the Netherlands and the U.K.—two EU “renegades”—have already added Hezbollah to their terror lists. Likewise, the European Parliament passed a resolution in 2005 by a vote of 475 to eight, stating “that clear evidence exists of terrorist activities by Hezbollah. The [EU] Council should take all necessary steps to curtail them.”
That the EU still hasn’t done so must be due to a lack of political will, rather than a lack of evidence. Hezbollah is “an organization that comprises a political party and a social services network as well as an armed wing,” Ms. Kozakou-Marcoullis said last week, recounting official EU policy. “Hezbollah is active in Lebanese politics, including the parliament and the government, and plays a specific role with regard to the status quo in Lebanon.”
Let’s have a quick look at that “specific role.” Last year, the United Nations tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri issued arrest warrants for four Hezbollah members for carrying out the truck bombing that killed Hariri and 22 other people. In 2008, Hezbollah took over Western Beirut in what the government at the time called a “bloody coup.” In the ensuing fighting, about 100 people, many of them civilians, were killed.
Is this really the sort of “status quo” the EU wants to continue validating? Created and funded by Tehran, Hezbollah serves the interest of the two most oppressive regimes left standing in the region: Iran and Syria. How does this square with the EU’s “New Strategy for a Changing European Neighborhood,” which promises Arabs that their “struggle for democracy, dignity, prosperity and safety from persecution would be supported by Europe?”
The artificial distinction between Hezbollah’s “armed wing,” as the EU so delicately puts it, and the organization’s “political” or “social” activities is meaningless. Hezbollah is a terror group to its core. Even when pretending to play the political game, it doesn’t operate like a democratic party but like the terrorist gang it is, intimidating voters and murdering and torturing rivals to advance the interests of Tehran and Damascus.
By adding Hezbollah to its terror list, the EU could thus simultaneously strike a blow against international terrorism and for Arab democracy. It would not only undercut its fundraising but also its claims for respectability. The EU’s continued engagement with Hezbollah confers on the group undeserved international recognition, which helps it to sell its terror as “resistance” and its service to Tehran as legitimate Lebanese politics. By naming and shaming Hezbollah, the EU would help isolate it, diminishing its attraction both at home and abroad.
Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah himself said a few years ago that such a move would “destroy” the organization as “[t]he sources of our funding will dry up and the sources of moral, political and material support will be destroyed.” Europe has the power and moral obligation to finally facilitate this destruction.
Mr. Schwammenthal is director of the AJC Transatlantic Institute in Brussels.
(h/t @ChallahHuAkbar / YNet) According to the article, which was based on information obtained by French intelligence agencies, the civil uprising against President Bashar Assad in Syria has significantly reduced the flow of money to the Lebanese terror group.
Moreover, the report said, Iran has recently cut its financial aid to Hezbollah by 25% due in part o the international sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program.
Nasrallah during recent public appearance (Photo: AFP)
Le Figaro said the financial crisis has led some Hezbollah terrorists to deal drugs in north Lebanon. Just last week US prosecutors indicted a Lebanese national who they said led a massive international drug smuggling ring with links to Hezbollah.
The US Treasury and the FBI have banned American organizations from donating to Hezbollah, which is designated under US law as a terrorist organization.
Last month Nasrallah claimed Hezbollah had unraveled a web of CIA informants and officers in Iran and Lebanon. According to Le Figaro’s report, the network caused significant damage to the Shiite group.
Hezbollah’s financial woes are also the result of corruption, the report said. According to Le Figaro, the terror group’s investment manager had embezzled close to $1.6 billion.
The report said that during a speech in Beirut two weeks ago Nasrallah chastised the organization’s female members for becoming, as he put it, too “bourgeois” and spending too much of the organization’s money. Le Figaro said this was yet another indication of Hezbollah’s dire financial situation.
The French daily claimed that the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri in 2005 was planned by top Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh, without Nasrallah’s knowledge
I hate to say this, but Nasrallah has so much more credibility then Hariri. Lebanon is the middle East’s confused and abused fickle whore who changes her mind everytime the wind blows. It is impressive that Nasrallah would stick by Assad even now. I notice even Hamas is trying to distance themselves from the Allawites. The odd thing is that I was led to believe Assad’s religion is a heresy to Islam, but if it is… the religious Shiites are very loyal to it. Perhaps it isn’t as heretical as I thought. To be loyal to Assad at this juncture takes a certain amount of religious blindness.