by DEBKAfile 13 January 2001

"The combined Iranian-Palestinian-Hizbal lah strategic threat to Israeli’s security, made so much of by Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon – and echoed by Israel’s senior defense and intelligence officials - did not drop out of the sky when the Karine-A arms ship was intercepted ten days ago.

The very first month of the Palestinian confrontation with Israel, in October 2000, Iranian hardline spiritual leader, Ali Khamenei’s top terror operations officer, Imad Mughniyeh engineered the kidnapping of three Israeli soldiers patrolling the Shebaa farms sector of the Lebanese frontier. That was Tehran’s first contribution to Arafat’s intifada.

The following month, November, the first Hizballah detail reached the Gaza Strip, expert instructors for Palestinian terrorists in the use and fabrication of mortars and explosives, including bomb-belts for suicides, and specialists in the arts of terror and ambush.

These developments were fully exposed as they occurred by DEBKAfile- only Ehud Barak’s government then in power paid no heed.

DEBKAfile continued to track the progress of Arafat’s radical Islamic reorientation on Iran.
On April 27, as a gesture of support for the Palestinian Intifada, Ali Khameini staged a conference in Tehran of the most radical Palestinian terror groups, the Hizballah and Imad Mughniyeh’s Tehran- and Beirut-based cells.
Disenchanted with the Arab world’s empty promises of aid, Arafat sent high-level Palestinian Authority representatives to the conference. One was the late Minister for Jerusalem Affairs, Faisal Husseini, who had always posed as a moderate. Khamenei personally ordered Hizballah secretary- general Hassan Nasrallah to keep the Palestinian Authority regularly supplied with heavy weapons, including mortars, and any other assistance required to bolster its war effort against Israel.

Within a short time, the first arms smuggling ships were setting sail for the Gaza Strip from ports in Lebanon, Cyprus and Greece. For 15 months, those arms ships have been tossing their watertight containers of deadly materials overboard into the Mediterranean, to be picked by Palestinian naval police patrol boats and fishing vessels.

In March and April 2001, the relationship blossomed further with the procession of Palestinian Authority envoys calling in at Damascus and Beirut, bearing messages to and from the Iranian ayatollah and the Palestinian leader. Husseini again joined the traffic, spending several weeks in Lebanon ...

The Americans have a full record of the Arafat-Khamenei exchanges from the outset.  [We] already knew from US sources that the messages exchanged between Arafat and Khamenei promoted Iran’s involvement in the Palestinian struggle through Arafat. They informed the Palestinian leader that Khamenei had appointed Mughniyeh as his personal liaison man and Iranian operations officer on the ground.

Arafat was willing to embrace Tehran, an old enemy, as an ally, when he saw Saddam Hussein reneging on his pledge to help the Palestinian Authority fight Israel. Instead the Iraqi leader secretly planted undercover agents of his own in the West Bank.

This incriminating correspondence will be in the hands of US envoy Anthony Zinni when he returns later this month for confronting Arafat.

Washington is onto the gigantic fraud Arafat engaged in against the United States, as well as his European sponsors, Israel and Egypt, when he signed onto this underhand strategic pact with the extremist ayatollahs who are dedicated to Israel’s total destruction, while at the same time proclaiming his earnest desire for a peaceful solution of the Palestinian conflict with Israel.

Arafat, by this turn of the screw, has done America the grave disservice of placing the notorious Imad Mughniyeh at center stage of the Middle East conflict, the most dangerous, accomplished and diabolical terrorist at the heart of the extremist Muslim labyrinth of violence. As Hizballah operations chief in Beirut of the 1980s, he demonstrated in more than one devastating anti-American operation, that he does not just blow up buses, but goes for operations that are strategic in scale and impact. His strikes are directed both at inflicting heavy casualties and debilitating his target’s strength.  He strikes rarely, but when does, the scars are long-lasting. In 1983, an operation he masterminded destroyed the CIA’s top Middle East echelon at a secret meeting in the US embassy in Beirut. The destruction of US Marine headquarters in the same city left 271 dead. Fanatically anti-American, Mughniyeh kidnapped Westerners and held them hostage for years. More recently, he was one of the plotters of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks and plotted the escape route from Afghanistan followed by Osama bin Laden and his fighters.

With Imad Mughniyeh behind him, Yasser Arafat is not afraid of Anthony Zinni, even after being caught red-handed smuggling arms by sea in cahoots with Tehran."