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US Homeland Security investigates Israeli arms deal to Iran

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Visiting the Golan Heights on Tuesday, Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of “arming those who are carrying out the slaughter” in neighbouring Syria (Photo: AFP)

Feb 18, 2014 Benjamin Netanyahu responds to media reports that Israeli arms shipments headed to Iran in breach of sanctions by making accusations against Iran (Photo: AFP)

News of Israel’s claim to have intercepted an Iranian arms shipment near Sudan allegedly headed to Gaza last Wednesday has been all over the media: mainstream media coverage in the US included the Washington Post, NYT, NPR, CNN, Fox. You name it, they reported it.

Iran flatly denied the charge. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif immediately countered that Israel was lying.

Well…. coincidentally, there was another big arms interception story that broke two weeks before that the U.S. media somehow managed to miss. It involved Israeli arms shipments headed to Iran seized by authorities in Greece and violating the arms embargo and sanctions on Iran. US Homeland Security is reportedly investigating.

Kind of a startling coincidence, don’t you think? On February 19, the UK’s Telegraph reported it: US investigates illegal military equipment shipments from Israel to Iran:

Israeli arms dealers twice tried to send spare parts for fighter planes to Iran, The Telegraph has established, flouting an international arms embargo and openly contradicting the bitter enmity between the Jewish state and the Islamic regime.

The illegal shipments are now being investigated by the US Homeland Security Department after they were intercepted by authorities in Greece.

The potentially explosive revelation came as six world powers resumed negotiations with Iran in Vienna aimed at reaching a long-term agreement over Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, marked the event with a renewed call for increased pressure on Iran to force it to abandon a programme that Israel regards as a front for building an atomic bomb and a threat to its existence.

Visiting the Golan Heights on Tuesday, he accused Iran of “arming those who are carrying out the slaughter……I would like to tell the world, today, as the talks between the major powers and Iran are being resumed, that Iran has changed neither its aggressive policy nor its brutal character…..” Mr Netanyahu said.

A blogger, Richard Silverstein pointed the finger at two possible culprits who he said were well-known arms dealers living in Binyamina-Givat Ada. The pair had come to the attention of Israeli and US authorities on suspicion of violating the arms embargo on Iran in the past, Silverstein wrote, but had never been charged or prosecuted. “There can be no doubt that they are colluding with Israeli intelligence,” he added.

Initially, the Times of Israel reported Israeli government officials were “silent” and speculated a military censorship may have been imposed and, if true, this represented “the shocking effort by Israelis to supply arms to the country’s most bitter enemy.” The Times also reported that Israel’s television news broadcasts  featured the story prominently.

But Richard Silverstein had already picked up the story, when the arms seizures were first revealed by Kathimerini, a Greek newspaper. Recognizing the location as being the home of “Serial Israeli Sanctions-Buster[s],” Silverstein’s report essentially ended the silence from the Israel’s officials.


The U.S. screams bloody murder when it catches a foreign company violating the sanctions regime.  U.S. media made sure to note that Pres. Obama lectured Francois Hollande when he was here about a French trade delegation that recently visited Iran.

How curious then, that Israel itself would be found to be in violation of U.S. sanctions law.  Not once, not twice, but tens of times over the years.  But did we hear about this latest incident from the NY Times or Washington Post?

The US media silence is curious indeed. Especially in light of the fact, that according Kathimerini, the illegal Israeli arms seizures were allegedly the result of an ongoing investigation between US Homeland Security and weapons unit of Greece’s Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE).

US Homeland Security will neither “confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.”

And Netanyahu’s reaction is to saber rattle against Iran?

As FM Zarif surmised, the timing did make for some awesome sound bites at AIPAC. Not not only that, it made it challenging to research this story. Every time I placed Israel, Iran and arms interception in the search engine I got flooded with an opposing narrative. Hmm.

And no, we can’t sort out all the facts from internet searches. But shouldn’t the western press be paying attention to both stories, and the timing thereof?

First of the McDonnell F-4 Phantom II Series Boeing

Israeli arms dealers tried to send spare parts for F-4 Phantom aircraft to Iran via Greece in violation of an arms embargo, according to a secret probe by the US government agency Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) carried out in cooperation with the drugs and weapons unit of Greece’s Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE).

Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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36 Responses

  1. Herb Glatter on March 10, 2014, 4:14 pm
    • Krauss on March 10, 2014, 7:40 pm

      Israel has been taking money/arms from the US and spitting in its face for decades.

      The simple reason why they continue without punishment is this: because they can get away with it. No politican dares touch the issue or get creamed in primaries as AIPAC funds their opponent to the hilt.

      Israel tried to sell advanced U.S. military technology to China a few years back, too. It already got caught doing so in the mid-2000s. And U.S. intelligence estimates that Israel is one of the top five(!) “hostile foreign governments” when it comes to spying on U.S. soil.

      It’s amazing what money can buy.

  2. annie on March 10, 2014, 4:38 pm

    in case anyone is interested, my title “Israeli illegal arms headed to Iran intercepted — US Homeland Security Investigating ” is on the top of the browser.

    • American on March 10, 2014, 5:34 pm

      Good!…because I saw a news blip on this weeks ago and mentioned here later—-then tried to go to google and re-find the news story but google buried it under 250,ooo hits on Israel claim of intercepting Iran shipment and I didnt have time to keep hitting pages to find it.
      But I just checked and your post is still at the head of google search

      • annie on March 10, 2014, 5:59 pm

        i forgot the country (Greece!)when i first read about it one night and then i tried to search and there was nothing. it was a fluke really. i finally searched by date and went back pages and pages. once i found one i was able to pull up some others. completely buried.

        and then it just dawned on me what a completely fortuitous event this was for israel, that they miraculously made this bust two weeks later which the press is just bleeding like no tomorrow. 6 days later and it is still leading the israel news:

        Israel Displays Rockets Seized in Red Sea Raid
        ABC News-6 hours agoShare
        Israel’s prime minister on Monday triumphantly toured a display of dozens of rockets that navy commandoes intercepted on the Red Sea last …
        Netanyahu blasts world’s ‘self-deception’ on Iran as intercepted
        Fox News-37 minutes ago
        Israel’s Netanyahu slams world community for ‘hypocrisy’ over Iran
        Los Angeles Times-2 hours ago
        Israel unloads 150 containers from Iranian weapons ship
        International-Jerusalem Post-Mar 9, 2014
        Israel: Seized rockets would put Jerusalem in Gaza’s range
        In-Depth-Christian Science Monitor-3 hours ago
        For Israel, warming US-Iran ties are just as dangerous as smuggled …
        International-Haaretz-Mar 7, 2014

        and frankly, i’m not sure there was a ship with weapons destined to go to gaza, via sudan. even the international business times calls is ‘alleged’. i’ll say.

      • American on March 10, 2014, 6:27 pm


        I think Isr is trying every thing they can make up, provoke and manufacture to upset the Iran talks and bring on more sanctions and or a reason for the US to attack Iran.
        I don’t believe a word of out of Israel’s mouth.
        10,000 times lied to, 10,000 times shy.

      • annie on March 10, 2014, 7:24 pm

        that’s sort of where i am at too american.

        hey, and a huge thank you to phil for changing the headline.

    • David Doppler on March 10, 2014, 5:56 pm

      Way to go, Annie. What do you make of this? What is Israel’s motive in allowing or causing prohibited arms shipments to occur? I remember trying to sort out Iran-Contra and confess the logic of Israel’s involvement there escaped me at the time. Is it just a lucrative opportunity for well-connected arms dealers who are greedy and profiteering, maybe paying off their own enforcement people? Are they sending in Trojan Horse arms that they retain some hidden control or access to after the Iranians deploy them, e.g., by misrepresenting their source? Or is there some other explanation?

  3. Mayhem on March 10, 2014, 4:55 pm

    What a grand conclusion Silverstein makes:

    Israel itself would be found to be in violation of U.S. sanctions law

    Somehow Silverstein manages to pin this whole tendentious thing on Israel as a whole. Such bizarre enigmatic reporting!

    • traintosiberia on March 10, 2014, 10:10 pm

      Where does one get the F 4 parts from?
      The government has to be involved by collusion or by omission .

    • ToivoS on March 11, 2014, 1:42 am

      mayhem, you simply do not understand what Richard Silverstein revealed. The US has been embargoing trade with Iran. What Silverstein reported is that an Israeli arms dealer was sending arms to Iran. This was totally unrelated to the thing that happened in the Red Sea last week. The US discovered that Israel was sending arms to Iran, for big profits. Israelis are greedy arms dealers and ideology is not something they care about. I am sure if the price was right, given the corruption inside Israel, they would sell Iran one of their nuclear bombs.

  4. pabelmont on March 10, 2014, 4:58 pm

    Why, for heaven’s sake, should the USA enforce its sanctions (except when its PEOPLE want to)? We are a nation ruled by MEN, not laws. (MEN and WOMEN, Rice, Clinton, etc.) They enforce what they want and not what they don’t want. Got that?

    Why, equally for heaven’s sake, should NYT et al REPORT the stuff they don’t want to report? Who said they had to inform the public with ALL relevant facts? They are a propaganda bureau and properly act like one. Trying to shame them is hopeless.

  5. chuckcarlos on March 10, 2014, 5:08 pm

    Netanyahu and his fascist goons have overtaken the Kardashians

    the PR is the same

    the truthfulness still favors the Kardashians over Netanyahu and his goons

    Well maybe Netanyahu can talk to Bruce Jenner’s skin shrinker

  6. on March 10, 2014, 5:18 pm

    You write “The US media silence is curious indeed.” It is not curious at all. Large numbers of Zionists are controlling many aspects of the US media for many years. Any news that looks bad for Israel is simply ignored or suppressed.

    • Les on March 10, 2014, 7:13 pm

      Name a single Jewish owner of US print and broadcast media who has publicly opposed Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. The rest of our big media is pretty much Fox territory. What else explains that reports on Jews opposed to Israel’s ethnic cleansing policies are missing from that media?

  7. Rusty Pipes on March 10, 2014, 5:33 pm

    The timing of the incident complicated a google search, similar to how the timing of the Israeli troops dancing at the Palestinian wedding topped the “Dancing Israelis” search at another opportune time.

    As FM Zarif surmised, the timing did make for some awesome sound bites at AIPAC. Not not only that, it made it challenging to research this story. Every time I placed Israel, Iran and arms interception in the search engine I got flooded with an opposing narrative. Hmm.

    And no, we can’t sort out all the facts from internet searches. But shouldn’t the western press be paying attention to both stories, and the timing thereof?

  8. just on March 10, 2014, 5:55 pm

    The entire thing stinks to high heaven. Stinks like another one of Israel’s notorious false flag operations and confabulations (lies) mixed with hysteria. Don’t they know that most of us have read Aesop’s “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”?

    “Hamas Interior Ministry spokesperson said Wednesday that the seizure of the arms shipment by the IDF is an Israeli pretext to justify the Gaza blockade. He said Hamas knows that Gaza’s maritime zone is under Israeli surveillance and that any ship that attempts to pass through would be stopped and that Gaza resistance forces are not so naïve as to send a large arms shipment via the sea. ”

    As far as Israeli dealers selling arms to Iran………entirely believable.

    Many thanks Annie.

    • annie on March 10, 2014, 6:05 pm

      The Palestinian leadership in Ramallah did not issue an official response to the takeover of the ship but Palestinian officials told Haaretz that the operation raises questions regarding the timing of the operation. “The ship has been sailing for weeks and it is seized exactly when Netanyahu is in Washington,” the official said. “The entire operation and the reports raise many questions regarding the timing and whether the event was real or fabricated.

      yyyyeah, just a little. and when they say “sailing for weeks” many weeks? say around ..the time the report (“according to a secret probe by the US government agency Homeland Security Investigations”) was leaked in greece?

      and why was that report leaked then if it had been going on for 2 years? what happened at the beginning of february that might have pissed the US off?

      oh look, probably just a coincidence the way the rabbis warned kerry …

      A group of Ultra-Nationalist rabbis wrote an open letter to John Kerry on Sunday comparing him to the Purim holiday villain Haman and accusing him of making “a declaration of war against the Creator and Ruler of the universe.”

      who knows. maybe this is just some competition between narratives during the iran negotiations between the US and israel.

  9. just on March 10, 2014, 6:29 pm

    All good questions.

    Q: Why on earth would Iran and Gaza do this insane thing right now?

    A: They wouldn’t, and didn’t.

    Levy did a pretty nice job yesterday:

    “How many times can they show a sack of cement that’s labeled “Made in Iran” before our brain goes numb? How much praise can be heaped on a daring maritime operation before it makes us dizzy? How many times can we listen to the navy commander, surrounded by cameras, of course, radio the chief of staff to tell him “the ship is in our hands” – as if it were Motta Gur’s Six-Day War pronouncement that “the Temple Mount is in our hands” – before the scene becomes a parody?

    The party has only just begun. These lines were written before the Klos C arrived Saturday in Eilat to the cheers of victory. And the climax is still ahead: Tomorrow the military’s tarps will be laid out, atop them the haul – set out before amazed eyes of the people of Israel and the indifferent world. Israeli leaders will not miss heroic photo op and their public relations people will not miss the chance to remind everyone who are the bad guys and who are the good guys. Indeed, there’s a reason to celebrate: an efficient operation, with no injuries, in which everything went smoothly and only proportionality disappeared as if it had sunk to the depths of the Red Sea.

    Israel, which has sold and continues to sell weapons to almost every dark and outcast nation, explains to the world that this is how the (Iranian) evil network operates. Israel, which is armed with almost every kind of weapon in the world, does not allow others to arm themselves with even a little of what it has (what would happen if someone would have taken over an arms ship bound for Israel?). “We are not pirates, we are the Israel Defense Forces,” screamed one ridiculous headline over the weekend. Another boasted: “Our forces at their best.” That Israel’s best? The Israel’s only best? ”


    “Israel will wake up tomorrow to the dawn of a new day: the president, the prime minister, ministers, general and ambassadors in a victory photo with the rockets. But this selfie is self-deluding and misleading. The Iranian cement is meant to conceal the rockets and the Israeli whitewash is meant to conceal dangers that are greater than any rocket, Iranian or Syrian. ”

  10. Justpassingby on March 10, 2014, 6:37 pm

    Even if true. So? Only israel can have weapons?

    • just on March 10, 2014, 6:46 pm

      But of course! Just as Gideon Levy pointed out in the above linked Haaretz article.

      The stench of hypocrisy is overwhelming. (I still don’t believe the Israelis)

  11. bilal a on March 10, 2014, 7:32 pm

    I cannot conceive of a mechanism for top-down control of the very pluralistic news media on issues related to Israel, yet the MW-Antiwar attended summit on the US Israel special relationship, had virtually no mainstream edia pickup , how the heck do they do that Phil ?

    dropped into a black hole:

  12. traintosiberia on March 10, 2014, 10:10 pm

    Isarel has been doing it against US ,way too long, by selling to China.

  13. chuckcarlos on March 10, 2014, 10:59 pm

    Netanyahu knows the facts and has all the evidence he needs to back them up…

    The quake off of Eureka yesterday, 6.9 50 miles out in the Pacific…yep, Netanyahu and Israeli Intelligence has found out…yep, it was the Iranians conducting secret undersea nukes…

    The Malaysian Airliner? Yep, again…Netanyahu and his band of sleuths has figured out it was a secret band of the Iranian Guard who managed to sneak aboard the airliner and blow it up over the jungles of Cambodia…positively assured says Netanyahu and his Intelligence Officers…”dastardly bunch those Iranians who will stoop to any level to degrade Israeli Security, even if it means blowing up passenger planes full of Asians”

    That wreck on I5 that killed those people in LA? Yes again…not only was that caused by Iranians, but the Ayatollah himself drove the getaway car…

    and the California drought? of course….Netanyahu has positive proof that the Iranians have hijacked the weather over the Pacific and diverted all the moisture to Tahiti…

    Netanyau is now working up weather maps to prove the Iranians are behind Climate Change…he has a very fine diagram that proves the Iranians are one sneaky bunch…Netanyahu plans on displaying this diagram of Climate Change at the next UN Assembly…

  14. Nevada Ned on March 11, 2014, 1:46 am

    Everybody in Official Washington has now forgotten about it, but back in the 1980’s, the US and Israel sold advanced weapons to Iran. The “Iran-contra” scandal was all over the US mainstream media. Read about it on Wikipedia.
    Fourteen high-ranking administrators in the Reagan regime were indicted, and eleven were convicted, including then-Secretary of “Defense”, Casper Weinberger. In the end, all were pardoned by George H. W. Bush (“the smart one”), who was VP under Reagan but claimed that he (GHWB) knew nothing about it.
    Reagan also claimed he knew nothing about it, but Weinberger’s diary revealed that Reagan was present at 14 meeting at which selling arms to Iran was discussed. “You would think”, scoffed Jack Brooks (old-time Texas Democrat), “that after 14 meetings even the President would begin to get the drift”. Reagan was more convincing in his claim of being senile.

    So I find these latest revelations very believable. Thanks to Richard Silverstein.

  15. NickJOCW on March 11, 2014, 12:30 pm

    I wonder how Iran paid for this stuff. And who.

  16. Kathleen on March 11, 2014, 2:49 pm

    You can be sure any Israeli arms intercepted going to Iran would be going to the MEK or other enemies of the leaders in Iran.

  17. Kathleen on March 11, 2014, 3:01 pm

    Just a few reasons why Israel would be suspect of another false flag operation

    Israel and the MEK
    The George W. Bush administration has long pushed the “laptop documents” – 1,000 pages of technical documents supposedly from a stolen Iranian laptop – as hard evidence of Iranian intentions to build a nuclear weapon. Now charges based on those documents pose the only remaining obstacles to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) declaring that Iran has resolved all unanswered questions about its nuclear program.

    But those documents have long been regarded with great suspicion by US and foreign analysts. German officials have identified the source of the laptop documents in November 2004 as the Mujahideen e Khalq (MEK), which along with its political arm, the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI), is listed by the US State Department as a terrorist organization.

    There are some indications, moreover, that the MEK obtained the documents not from an Iranian source but from Israel’s Mossad.”

    Israel and the killing of Iranian scientist
    U.S. pushing Israel to stop assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists

    Israeli agents in Iran

    False Flag
    A series of CIA memos describes how Israeli Mossad agents posed as American spies to recruit members of the terrorist organization Jundallah to fight their covert war against Iran.

    Israel and Stuxnet
    Israeli Test on Worm Called Crucial in Iran Nuclear Delay
    Published: January 15, 2011

  18. Kathleen on March 11, 2014, 4:10 pm

    Just too hard to think Iran would be that stupid. Too many other Israeli false flag operations not to suspect them. Just too many

  19. piotr on March 12, 2014, 11:23 am

    The ship was next to Sudan coast and presumably it would dock in Sudan. Israel attack Port of Sudan before, with similar claims. Basically, this is a piracy.

  20. RJL on March 13, 2014, 5:24 pm

    The Israeli press isn’t reporting more on that shipment of plane parts to Iran for obvious reasons. You kooks really think the govt. was doing this? Haven’t a clue how those two brother in laws get hold of spare parts, but not from Netanyahu, for sure. And NOW you are in denial of the shipload of goodies en route to Gaza; not Iranian made rockets, but Syrian made. So nice of you to believe in Zarif, a man of truth and integrity? You are really loony to believe him.

    • annie on March 14, 2014, 2:44 am

      You kooks really think the govt. was doing this?

      i think they knew about it for sure. unless you’re going to argue the port security in israel is, like, so lame. go ahead, make that argument. especially about some guys who’ve been busted for this time and again. ah huh, mossad are so out of the loop.

  21. W.Jones on March 14, 2014, 3:17 am

    Why would their government intentionally sell arms to Iran?

    • piotr on March 14, 2014, 8:46 pm

      Israeli military-industrial complex is quite business minded and some aspects can be only explained by the willingness to make some bucks. So you have some companies providing mercenaries, weapons, training in torturing etc. and intelligence surely knows what they are doing, but with right connections you can do everything (presumably, with some limits, but that may just mean that some shenanigans require super-duper connections). My speculation.

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