The 21st Century Phenomenon



On 01/05/2002 Israeli Naval Commando seized the Weapon Ship Karin A in the Red Sea.  Karin A was a Fatah ship hired by Fatah and PLO senior officials, who were at the same time also high officials in the Palestinian Authority, to smuggle weapons from Iran to Gaza Strip. In addition to a very large amount of weapons the ship carried 21 specially built floating containers and three officers of the Palestinian “Naval Force”. One of them, Mohammed Abdel Hadi Kharis, born in 1965 and from Jordanian origin, was a professional diver. The rest were innocent Egyptian crew. The ship was basically loaded with legitimate cargo of children’s toys, additionally loaded with weapons in the Iranian Island of Qeshm, an Iranian Revolutionary Guard base in the Indian Ocean. The vessel was registered in Iraq and changed its name to Karin A in Port Sudan, in 08/2001.

The Idea was to drop the floating containers in the Gulf of Suez or near the Egyptian-Gaza maritime border, in shallow water, currents weak and to anchor them under the water. In the second stage and some time later, “fishing boats” either from the Sinai Bedouins or Gaza’s organizations, were supposed to drag the floating containers to shore. 

The Karin A revealed the full extend, determination and sophistication of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to overcome many obstacles in order to supply weapons to its allies and the enemies of Israel. All the ingredients of the system were there. A non Iranian commercial ship with a foreign innocent crew, loaded with legitimate cargo on legal commercial maritime pathways and only one or two of the crew are professional divers.

Intelligence gathered during Operation Cast Lead suggested that Karin A was not a single, isolated event. There were most likely, many Karin A which operated on a regular basis and the system was improved and shaped all the time. Eventually it was a huge Israel Intelligence omission to focus almost exclusively on Rafah Tunnels while large quantity of weapons was smuggled to Gaza in other ways too, as Egypt suggested time and again (see also – Cast-Lead 15 ).

Acting on this intelligence Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni signed in Washington, USA, on Friday 01/16/2009, an intelligence and security pact with USA to form a joint international task force that will follow the path of the weapons smuggled to Gaza from Iran (see – Cast-Lead 20). Indeed, the next day, Saturday 01/17/2009, USA announced that the Combined Task Force – CTF 151, headed by The USS San Antonio amphibian warship and patrolling the Gulf of Aden for SOMALI PIRATES, has been assigned to cope with the Iranian smuggling system too.

CTF 151 already boarded, on Friday 01/23/2009 morning, an Iranian cargo vessel ‘Monchegorsk’. This was the first time an America warship had ever intercepted an Iranian vessel in international water. The ship is sailing under Cyprus flag from Iran to Syria and, among other cargo – a small load of Mortar shells, which according to documents are intended to the Syrian port of Latakia. The ship is, most likely, an Iranian test ship to learn about the new procedures and their effectiveness. 

On Saturday 01/24/2009, the chamber of the French President Nikola Sarkozi announced that a French frigate was ordered, on Friday 01/23/2009, to be immediately deployed to Gaza to survey the area and fight arms smuggling and consolidate a fragile cease-fire. The deployment is supposed to precede the ship under Cyprus flag (see -Monchegorsk Case ), if there will be an attempt to smuggle weapons to Gaza, but also a clear sign for Iran that regarding the weapon smuggling to Gaza – the Western Democracies mean business.


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