The complete address of Mossad chief Efraim Halevy, in a rare appearance at the NATO council in Brussels (Published in Yidiot Aharonot on June 28, 2002 and translated into English by Jonathan Silverman.
The other day, the head of the Mossad, Efraim Halevy, gave an address in the framework of a closed meeting of the NATO Alliance Council in Brussels. Participants in the meeting included 19 Ambassadors of the member countries in the Alliance. Here is the full text of his address:
"In our meeting today, which is aimed to survey the central elements in our strategic assessment, the threats against Israel and the nations aspiring for freedom in the world, we cannot hide from the savagery and brutality of the events of this month, June 2002, in which suicide attacks have reached new heights, and have caused the killing of more than sixty people within only two weeks.
Since the beginning of the Palestinian Intifada against Israel, more than sixty suicide attacks have been executed against us. It is no longer a marginal phenomenon, which characterizes a small and extremist sector of the society. It is a phenomenon that is developing at a quick pace into a half legitimate form of warfare, which receives encouragement and aid from the leadership level in the Palestinian camp.
I have chosen to direct the spotlight on this aspect of the continuing Palestinian/Israeli conflict because it is so characteristic of what the whole world has been experiencing since the start of the new millennium. Terror acts, as it were tactical and short range, are quickly becoming strategic threats with international significance.
The 11th of September was, if you will, an official and biting declaration of World War III. Also in the '90s there were terror attacks - the explosions that were executed simultaneously at the US Embassies in Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam: the attack on the American naval vessel Cole in Yemen. There were terror acts in New York that brought about arrests and convictions, but only on September 11, was the die cast, and the true character of the new war was revealed to the eyes of all. This is a war in which the sides are not only countries but also terrorist groups, that operate almost with impunity. It is a war which does not have clear fighting lines; it is a war that is being waged against free societies, with weapons and strategies we have not known until now. It is a war which does not adhere to the rules of war, or the international legal norms.
Reality And Realpolitik
We in Israel followed developments in NATO in response to September 2001 with great interest: sending naval units to the Mediterranean Sea in October 2001, the cooperation of your AWACS in patrols over the air space of the US for 220 days, meetings of your defense ministers in your meeting of June 6, during which you discussed the threat of weapons of mass destruction in Iran, Iraq, North Korea and Cuba, Lybia and even Syria, in connection with the terror threat.
We have taken note of your discussions regarding NATO's new strategic concept, which is no longer limited to the European/Atlantic arena, but is intended for a confrontation with the enemy "anywhere he could be", to quote. Therefore it was very encouraging to read your address, Mr. Secretary General of NATO, Lord Robertson, on April 29 2002, entirely devoted to the Mediterranean dialogue, in which there was a clear statement that NATO's reciprocal considerations create the need to include the Mediterranean dialogue in your standing up against your new challenges. You detailed six areas in which there is a tie between European security and the mideast. Today I will deal only with two of the six, terror and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
For many years terror is serving to achieve political objectives. History knows many cases in which terror was an extremely powerful and effective means for achieving national liberation. The result of this, in the last period, is the attempt to define and to differentiate between categories and various nuances of terror: so for example, the ten Palestinian groups that operate out of Damascus are defined as half legitimate movements, which work on behalf of the liberation of Palestine. We have identified an effort that has continued for a long time, to avoid a confrontation with the true reality of this phenomenon, and this is in the interest of "realpolitik".
So, it is possible for Syria, which gives protection to these groups, to receive a seat as a respected member of the security council, and its representative even serves this month as Chairman of the council, and this at the very time when the Palestinian Islamic Jihad sent a suicide attacker to blow up a bus in the north of Israel, and caused the killing of around twenty people. The leader of this organization, Ramadan Shalach, publicly took responsibility for this attack from where he sits in his Damascus headquarters, when he was interviewed by the Al Jazeera television network, which millions watch all over the Arab and Muslim world.
My appeal to you, here today, is that the attempts to differentiate and distinguish between colors and targets of Islamic terror are quickly losing their relevancy. Why? First of all because of the extent and the intensity of these terror actions. They are no longer limited to specific areas in the world. Hamburg, Milan, Brussels, London, Miami, Koala Lampur - this is only a random list of large cities in which terrorists are living, and in which they are slowly making their plans and preparing their operations. Secondly, the operation of suicides in New York, Washington, or Jerusalem, is the manifestation of a "modus operandi" that is motivated not only by professional efficacy, but by its being perfectly fitted ideologically and religiously. Therefore the method has attained transcendental, supernatural meaning.
The Mothers Of The Martyrs (Shahidim)
In recent weeks we have seen mothers escorting their children on their final paths, waving goodbye to them as they go to a lofty and desirable death. The more that acts like this become more widespread, the more their success grows in spreading death and destruction, and even more, to the extent that they approach achieving political success, so also the chance grows that they will become an extremely powerful weapon and receive preference in future confrontations, in which there will be involvement of Muslim societies from around the world. Violent Radical Islam has been until now a minority stream in the Islamic religion, and most Muslims were - and one hopes they will continue to be in the future - aspiring to peace and moderate in their approach to life. But if the violent minority groups are not restrained, and in many cases, completely eliminated - then the statement "nothing succeeds like success" is liable to symbolize the terrible threat to the basic fabric of the member countries of NATO in which Muslim communities are growing and developing, in numbers and in influence, while they preserve their unique identity and culture.
In light of this complicated situation we need to give our strategic assessment tremendous weight in a "form of warfare" that we will employ in the coming months and years. We identify terror in its entirety, and suicide attacks in particular, as "a form of warfare" that must be outlawed and prohibited in international law. Any support for these actions, or any authority that is allowed to execute them, must be prohibited in the clearest way. Dispatchers, movements, countries and entities that are involved in actions of this kind, or which encourage them, whether specifically or through the power of suggestion, must be taken out of the area of law and justice. By our doing this we will serve not only a country like Israel, but also as I suggested above, preservation of the free societies in Europe, Asia, on the American continent and everywhere else.
I believe that good service will also be done thereby to the moderate regimes of the mideast, which are also threatened by extremist Islamic groups whose purpose is to remove the existing leadership in these countries.
"Reforms" In A Display Window
In defining the threat of terror, we must contend with terrorist movements, which are identified by us and by you, with reciprocal ties and mutual support that they supply to each other, and with countries that host these groups and make their actions possible from secure bases. Before I comment on the hosting countries, I would like to note the following:
- There is growing influence for the support for terror in the mideast from the inspiration of the Iranian regime. The most prominent revelation of this phenomenon is the continuing supply of weapons and capability for the presence of Hizbulla in Lebanon, along Israel's northern border, and the continuing support of the Iranian regime for international terror branch of Hizbulla. Let us not forget that three of the 19 most wanted terrorists on the FBI list are Lebanese Hizbulla activists. None of them have been captured yet. The Iranian influence has grown inside the Palestinian Authority, both because of the expansion of cooperation between Iran and Hamas and on account of the direct tie between the established Palestinian Authority and Iran. The famous case of the Karine A ship, which was transporting 50 tons of Iranian weapons and ammunition that were purchased with the direct authority of Chairman Arafat, as he was forced to confess, is only one example of this.
- Iraq is trying to involve itself more and more in the destiny of the Palestinian Authority by means of distributing funds to families of the suicides and other Palestinian fallen fighters. In the territories, at the population level, one feels support for Saddam Hussein, and from time to time he receives encouragement from the leadership. The traditional tie between Chairman Arafat and Saddam Hussein remains in place despite all the transformations that have taken place in the mideast.
Now I will move to a discussion of "the hosting countries", which, as mentioned, enable terror and suicide attacks. To our great regret, we must place the Palestinian Authority, together with Syria, Iran and Iraq at the head of this list. For many months Chairman Arafat has placed the matter of the suicide attacker, the tortured saint, the "shahid" at the top of his list of priorities. In his uninhibited inciteful speeches he diverts his people to these acts: the climax was his resounding call to millions of "shahidim" to overcome Jerusalem. There are defining, revealing moments, in the history of a country or of a political movement. Placing the ideal of suicide - "the shahid status" at the peak, in my opinion, has become such a defining decision, and its results will soon be known.
Israel is forced to use aggressive counter-measures: Our Operation Defensive Shield was aimed to uproot the terror infrastructure, and as you know, it merited temporary success. Following this operation we had a short period of quiet, that was broken with time, and during which it became possible for all the parties to assess the situation and to decide on future policy. The almost unanimous call for "reforms in the Palestinian Authority" reflect the opinion that there must be a real change in the character and functioning of the Palestinian Authority. This demand is considered a condition for ensuring the success of the Palestinian national movement.
One cannot hide from the unique phenomenon in which Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the European Union and strong voices in the Palestinian Authority are singing the same notes, along with Israel. And how does Arafat respond?
At first by means of "reforms" in the Authority that were nothing but changes without significance in a display window. "The reforms" in the justice system were executed within one hour - really a world's record of all time. The government was diminished, and Nabil Amar, a former minister who resigned in disgust even before dispersal of the earlier government said, "this is a cosmetic change that will lead the Palestinians to a disaster". Or as Hamas leader Rantisi said, "this was a reorganization of the same corrupt people". Arafat refused to appoint a prime minister, as he was asked - among other things - by the European Union; he appointed a minister of internal security, who the Arab countries define as a clown in Arafat's hands.
Even more significant was the message that Arafat relayed to his people, in a policy speech that was given to the Palestinian legislative body on May 15. After he paid lip service to his critics, in his carefully worded and ambivalent call for halting suicide attacks, he told his audience that they had to remember the "Hudeiba Treaty", which he defined as "a minor treaty". He reminded his supporters that this treaty was signed between the prophet Muhamed and the tribe of Kuraish. It was signed at a time when Muhamed was in an inferior position in the battle field, and the understanding prevailed that this was the only way to prevent a loss, until the conditions of war changed, and Muhamed would have the upper hand. When this happened, Muhamed had the obligation to break the treaty and attack his enemy. And so Muhamed acted. On May 15 this year Arafat announced to his people that this was his strategy - to sign an agreement with the purpose of breaking it, at the moment when circumstances allowed it.
An Urgent Time Table
I believe that leaders of the region are well aware of this strategy. Some of them have suffered in the past at Arafat's hand, and they carry with them a bitter experience of this strategy, in the past and also today. But the urgent time table of the war against terror doesn't conform with the political time table. At the moment there is an immediate urgency to restrain terror, and to eliminate it with a coordinated campaign. It obligates full cooperation from all of us on a long term basis, to prevent and counter terror in all its forms. It requires constant pressure on the Palestinians, to act against terror before it brings more death and destruction, and before it destroys their national movement.
The second element that you mentioned in your address, Lord Robertson, is the threat of the spread of weapons of mass destruction. In this connection we must mention Iran, Syria, Iraq and Lybia. In recent years the threat of weapons of mass destruction from Israel's confrontation states has grown immeasurably. Firstly sir, in Iran.
In recent years, Iran has invested tremendous sums in developing launch systems, mainly ground to ground missiles, which are based originally on North Korean expertise. The missile, Shihavi 3, with a range of 1,300 km, was tested successfully. The Iranian defense minister, Shamhani, declared openly that the Iranians are trying to increase its range, its payload capability and "its destructive capability". Iran is involved also in research and development of missiles with even longer ranges, which can reach Europe and in the future - even the US. The Iranian defense minister denied this publicly, but we have a different view. This effort is being made under the camouflage of launching civilian satellites. I must tell you that I see no reason for this entry into development of missiles with such long range. Who and what are the potential targets of these systems? I don't know.
Iran is also involved in an intensive way in developing a military nuclear capability. For clear reasons I will not detail our information regarding this sensitive issue. The combination of this activity and of the abovementioned investment in launching systems must be an issue for the constant attention of all of us in this room.
Likewise, we believe that Iran's signing the treaty against the use of chemical weapons is no more than camouflage for building an infrastructure for dual purposes - a civilian infrastructure, which can be turned very quickly into a system for producing large quantities of the poison gas VX. The Iranians are investing also in research and development in the area of biological warfare.
As you know, on the eve of the Gulf War, Iraq was on the verge of attaining nuclear capability. The Iraqis were only months away from producing fissionable material. Starting from 1998, the year in which the UN monitoring was halted, we must assume that the Iraqis renewed their efforts in this area; we have clear indications that this is what has happened, and it is their great and unshakeable ambition. Together with these efforts, we have reason to believe that the Iraqis have succeeded in preserving parts of their capability in the fields of biological and chemical warfare. We have partial evidence that they have renewed production of VX and perhaps even anthrax germs.
Regarding launching systems, we have sufficient evidence to determine that they are investing every possible effort to preserve the capability they still have, and to increase them through new means.
For years we have been following the purchase - and later the production - of North Korean missiles of the SCUD B and SCUD C and SCUD D types by Syria. The warheads are mainly conventional, but the Syrians also have chemical and biological capability related to ground to ground missiles.
They have produced large quantities of nerve gas of the Serin type (GB) and in recent years they are working hard on producing VX nerve gas. These materials are suitable for military targets not only by means of bombs carried in jets or SCUD missiles of all kinds, but also on rockets of 220 and 302 mm diameter whose range is 50 to 100 km.
To Overcome The Threats
As I approach the end of my address, I suggest that we turn our eyes to Lybia, which is developing long range missiles with the aid of North Korea. The range of these missiles - more than 1000 km - also brings up Europe and Israel as future focal points of Lybia's capability. And perhaps I will add that Lybia has been declared more than once as a country that is interested in attaining nuclear capability. I will make only a few comments on this important issue.
A. What is clear to us as the sun at noon is that responses need to be in conformity with the size of the threats, and they have to be planned so that they will overcome the threats through providing the greatest chance for their success. The war of today and tomorrow has to be organized with weapons and strategy that befit the challenge. This is what we are doing in our region: with all due respect to what you did in Afghanistan, and what you will be forced to do in every place and at all times when you cope with challenges, as you will definitely need to do.
B. Israel cannot abandon any effort to counter, prevent or delay attainment of the capability of weapons of mass destruction. Cooperation with certain NATO members has led to results deserving all praise.
C. Terror and suicide attacks cannot be executed unless there are secure refuges for training, planning and acquiring weapons. It must be understood that both countries and individual leaders bear direct responsibility for the actions being executed in the territories under their control. In the final analysis, the international community has no alternative but to force them to bear this responsibility, since if this isn't done the international system of nation states that manifests its sovereignty over territory and populations will be placed in danger. The status of the state and the right of sovereignty must be conditioned on proper behavior.
D. To sum up, preservation of the free societies and the lives of their citizens must be recognized as a basic right of every man and woman on the earth. We must shorten the days of criminal countries and entities, that act not only as lords of their destinies, but as lords of your destinies and ours."