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Opinion / EditorialIRAN'S TERROR GIFTS
FrontPage magazine.com, CA
By FrontPage Magazine


The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Israelis have found sensitive night-vision goggles on Hezbollah fighters that originated in the UK. The tactical equipment appears to come from a shipment sent from the British government to Iran in 2003, intended to help interdict narcotics. Instead, the Iranians put them to another use entirely (via The Asylum):

Israeli intelligence officials have complained to Britain and the United States that sensitive night-vision equipment recovered from Hezbollah fighters during the war in Lebanon had been exported by Britain to Iran. British officials said the equipment had been intended for use in a U.N. anti-narcotics campaign.

Israeli officials say they believe the state-of-the-art equipment, found in Hezbollah command-and-control headquarters in southern Lebanon during the just-concluded war, was part of a British government-approved shipment of 250 pieces of night-vision equipment sent to Iran in 2003.

Israeli military intelligence confirmed that one of the pieces of equipment is a Thermo-vision 1000 LR tactical night-vision system, serial No. 155010, part No. 193960, manufactured by Agema, a high-tech equipment company with branches in Bedfordshire, England, and San Diego. A spokesman for Agema in San Diego denied all knowledge of the system.

The equipment, which needed special export-license approval from the British government, was passed to the Iranians through a program run and administered by the U.N. Drug Control Program. The equipment uses infrared imaging to provide nighttime surveillance that allows the user to detect people and vehicles moving in the dark at a range of several miles.

The UN-brokered program has allowed the UK to sell military equipment to the Iranians despite the standoff over the nuclear program in Teheran. The Iranians were supposed to use the goggles to track nocturnal movements of drugrunners trying to get heroin and opium over the Afghanistan-Iran border. Instead of stopping the flow of drugs, however, the goggles allowed Hezbollah guerillas to ...

track the nighttime manuevers of the IDF, making it possible for them to kill more IDF soldiers.

The British have requested the serial numbers and model types involved to track the shipments to specific buyers, but the IDF isn't playing dumb. They have stated that the only way Hezbollah could have obtained these goggles would have been through the Iranian government, which seems a lot more likely than the British selling them directly to Hassan Nasrallah. It should not come as much of a shock in any case, since the Iranians supply Hezbollah with rockets and missiles as well as the goggles.

However, it does show the problem of engagement with terror-supporting states, even on issues like drug interdiction or other cooperative ventures. The Iranians care much less about the drug trade than they do about destroying Israel, and the British showed remarkable naivete in their dealings with Teheran. One suspects that they will not make this same mistake again soon.

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