Background / Security services will take the offensive (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Ze´ev Schiff 11/29/02)
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After a long period of relative quiet, Israel´s enemies have renewed
attacks on Israeli targets overseas, trying to register as many
deaths as possible. As a result, Israel, particularly the Mossad and
the Shin Bet, will have to reorganize outside the country´s borders -
and not only in a defensive posture.
The assessment of yesterday´s two attacks in Mombasa, Kenya - one on
an Arkia plane taking off to Tel Aviv and the second on the Paradise
Hotel - was the work of a group with connections to Qaida. And there
are investigations already under way probing the link between Qaida
An announcement claiming responsibility for both attacks was made by
a group unknown till now - the Army of Palestine - to Al Manara,
Hezbollah´s TV station in Lebanon. The language of the announcement
was more than just a hint that Hezbollah is aware of the identity of
the group and its leaders.
In previous contacts between Hezbollah and Qaida, Osama bin Laden´s
group has shown interest in the Lebanese organization´s activities
and has initiated meetings between officials of both groups.
The assessment that Qaida, or more precisely, the World Jihad, is
behind the Kenya attacks is based on the terrorists´ modus operandi:
focusing on large targets to achieve a "mega-terror" event with many
victims, more than one target (the hotel and the aircraft), an attack
involving a suicide mission, extensive and comprehensive intelligence
gathering for the purpose of achieving maximum effect.
Yesterday´s attacks have revived the problem of foreign attacks on
official or semi-official Israeli targets. The last major attacks of
this nature took place in Buenos Aires: over 100 people were killed
in the 1994 bombing of the Jewish community center and the 1992
bombing of the Israeli embassy. Those attacks were perpetrated by
Hezbollah, with Iranian help.
Foreign attacks on Israeli targets is not the responsibility of the
Israel Defense Forces, but rather of the Mossad and Shin Bet, which
focuses on security and defensive measures. But clearly, the matter
will not end there. In addition to massive intelligence gathering,
the Mossad now will certainly take a more offensive approach.
Under the new circumstances, it will be necessary to reexamine the
presence of Qaida activists who arrived in Lebanon from Afghanistan
and are now in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein Hilwe, south of
Sidon in Lebanon, close to the Israeli border. That group must be
regarded as a loaded gun that will eventually fire - at Israel.
Investments will have to be made in defensive measures so as not to
expose that front.
Security overseas is focused on official and semi-official Israeli
installations, the protection of Israeli airlines and other forms of
transport, and VIPs traveling overseas. Aside from providing
guidance, the state´s security forces do not provide security for
Israelis, per se, traveling overseas. That was evident yesterday when
the security officers were busy protecting the plane and the
passengers on their way to the plane at the Mombasa airport, but not
the hundreds of Israelis who were gathered at the Paradise Hotel,
which became a target for suicide bombers.
A separate issue is that of defending planes, during take-off and
landing, from shoulder-launched missiles. In past attempts of using
such missiles to hit Israeli planes, the perpetrators were caught,
usually with the missiles, which were primarily old Strella missiles.
In one case, the putative attackers were captured and brought to
Israel, where they were sentenced to lengthy prison terms.
There are a few ways to protect a large passenger plane from such
missiles. In 1977, the counter-terrorism aide of former premier
Menachem Begin, Amihai Feiglin, began work on finding alternative
means for protecting passenger planes. However, he was killed in a
car mishap shortly after undertaking this effort.
More recently, former transportation minister Ephraim Sneh allocated
a budget for developing a system intended to foil shoulder-launched
missiles aimed at large civilian aircraft. The system is being
developed at Rafael, the state-owned weapons development and research
corporation. Other Israeli corporations are involved with the effort,
and the system already has been shown to a major American corporation.
(© Copyright 2002 Ha´aretz 11/29/02)
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