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Iran continues to smuggle weapons to terrorist groups - FACTS

2024.04.09, 16:28
Iran continues to smuggle weapons to terrorist groups - FACTS

Iran is operating a clandestine smuggling route across the Middle East, employing intelligence operatives, militants and criminal gangs, to deliver weapons to Palestinians in the West Bank, according to officials from the United States, Israel and Iran.

The goal, as described by three Iranian officials, is to foment unrest against Israel by flooding the enclave with as many weapons as it can.

Many weapons smuggled to the West Bank largely travel along two paths from Iran through Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel, the officials said. As the arms cross borders, the officials added, they change hands among a multinational cast that can include members of organized criminal gangs, extremist militants, soldiers and intelligence operatives. A key group in the operation, the Iranian officials and analysts said, are Bedouin smugglers who carry the weapons across the border from Jordan into Israel.

Inside Iran's weapons pipeline to the West bank

The "New York Times" interviewed senior security and government officials with knowledge of Iran’s effort to smuggle weapons to the West Bank, including three from Israel, three from Iran and three from the United States. The officials from all three countries requested anonymity to discuss covert operations for which they were not authorized to speak publicly.

“The Iranians wanted to flood the West Bank with weapons, and they were using criminal networks in Jordan, in the West Bank and in Israel, primarily Bedouin, to move and sell the products,” said Matthew Levitt, director of the counterterrorism program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a research organization, and the author of a study on the smuggling route.

The smuggling to the West Bank, analysts said, began about two years ago when Iran started using routes previously established to smuggle other contraband. It is unclear exactly how many weapons have made it to the territory in that time, though analysts say the majority are small arms.

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The majority of the smuggled weapons, analysts said, are small arms like handguns and assault rifles. Iran is also smuggling advanced weapons, according to American and Israeli officials. Those weapons, the Israeli officials said, include antitank missiles and rocket-propelled grenades, which fly fast and low to the ground, creating a challenge for Israel when defending civilian and military targets from close-range fire.




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