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
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.