Brit intel says Iran preparing Hamas fighters
LONDON – Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service says Iran’s Revolutionary Guards are training hundreds of Hamas fighters to prepare for an all-out war this summer against Israel.
The Gaza-based organization’s elite Izzedine al-Qassam Brigade will form the southern front of an attack against the Jewish state while Hezbollah will launch its simultaneous assault from southern Lebanon, according to MI6.
Analysts with the organization believe the attack will come in the rundown of the Bush administration and closing months of the bitter Democratic campaign.
“With the Bush White House virtually a spent force and both the Democrats and Republicans looking inward to their conventions, there is mounting evidence that Tehran will seize the opportunity to attack Israel through its surrogates, Hamas and Hezbollah,” said a senior intelligence source in London.
MI6 analysts have confirmed tortuous negotiations in which Egypt acted as an intermediary between Hamas and Israel are now increasingly fragile.
Hamas, which is pledged to destroy Israel, is officially excluded by Israel from direct negotiations with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s government.
But with the mounting threat of a simultaneous attack on Israel from two fronts, several members of the Israeli security services have begun to urge Olmert to meet with Hamas leaders.
However, hardliners like the head of Mossad, Meir Dagan, and Yuval Diskin, the director-general of Israel’s internal security service, Shin Bet, are opposed to any negotiations.
Dagan has told Olmert: “To talk to Hamas is a waste of time. Gaza is a noxious mixture of our oxidized hopes.”
And Diskin added last week: “While we would be talking, Hamas would be sending still more of its fighters to Iran to be trained.”
MI6 undercover agents in Tehran — operating out of a secret base on the country’s border with Iraq — have established there are three training camps.
One is in the remote desert Dasht-e-Kavir, east of Tehran. A second is in the mountain region of Hamadan. The third is near the southern city of Shiraz.
MI6 agents have established that since Israeli troops pulled out of Gaza, the strip of Palestinian territory, more than 2,000 Hamas fighters have gone to Iran.
They travel south to Cairo where they board Iranian military flights to Tehran. From there they are taken to the camps by bus. Each fighter is trained for 45 days in high-tech combat techniques about rockets and mines.
An MI6 report describes the conditions at the camps as: “Strict. It is a six days a week, dawn to dusk routine. Fighters sleep rough. They are only allowed to leave their camps on one day a week. Each group is accompanied by their Revolutionary Guards. Mixing with the local population is barred.”
Hamas recruits who have shown skills at intelligence gathering are sent to the Revolutionary Guards intelligence school in Tehran.
There they are shown Iranian intelligence on Israel and are taught how to infiltrate its cities. Part of their training is to learn how to pinpoint targets for mortar and rocket attacks.
“In recent months, there is hard evidence that the Hamas fighters who have returned from Iran know how to use the Shawas-4, a new generation of Iranian mine,” said the London intelligence source.
Meantime, other Hamas fighters are being regularly sent to Syria. Like those who go to Iran, their passports contain no stamp to identify their travels. In Syria, the Hamas fighters train alongside Hezbollah.
“Our intelligence is that both groups have formed a close relationship in terms of battle strategy and deployment of weapons,” said the senior London intelligence source.
“It all points to preparation for a coming battle like that which had such a devastating effect on Israeli forces in Lebanon in 2006.”
Gordon Thomas is the author of the newly published Secrets and Lies: A History of CIA Mind Control and Germ Warfare (Octavo Editions, USA) and the forthcoming Inside British Intelligence (JR Books, UK).