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Mossad Plants Disinformation about Sanctions-Busting Arms Dealer

UPDATE: The Telegraph reported today on the Weinstein arms deal scandal.  The story mentioned my reporting, but didn’t report Weinstein’s name.  The reporter quoted Alex Fishman saying that exposure of the arms deal by the U.S. government is a warning shot across the bow to Israel not to sabotage the nuclear negotiations.  The only way I can see that theory as likely is if the U.S. knew about the deal and knew that Israel knew about it, then deliberately sabotaged and exposed it.  This would be the Obama administration pointing out the hypocrisy of Israel demanding punitive measures against Iran when it was violating them all along.  In the covert trench warfare going on between the U.S. and Israeli governments this is a distinct possibility.

If all this is correct, then we may presume that the saber-rattling of Bibi’s public statements over the past two days on Iran could be seen as a direct response to the U.S. exposure of the sanctions-busting scandal.  In other words, Bibi’s response is: “Screw you, I’m not gonna shut up just because you expose one of our arms dealers.  I’m gonna ratchet up the pressure.”  This would be perfectly in character with Netanyahu’s personality.  He does NOT like to have his nose rubbed in it.

Prof. Muhammad Sahimi writes about the F-4 Phantom jet:

Iran has tried to reverse engineer F-4 and the older F-5 and has been successful to a large extent. So, I believe that is the significance of what has happened. This not only allows Iran to keep its F-4 operational, but give them more to work with for their domestic military industry.

*   *

Yesterday, I reported that Israeli arms dealer, Avichai Weinstein, had been caught red-handed by Department of Homeland Security and Greek security officials trying to ship spare parts for F-4 fighter jets to Iran.  My post yesterday noted that Weinstein had been caught in such banned transactions at least three times prior to 2004 and his latest one makes at least four.  I also noted that he’d never been charged with any crime, let alone convicted or jailed.  In contrast, the one U.S. co-conspirator we know about from one of his previous failed attempts, Leib Cohn, was charged by the FBI and went to prison. I argued that this was prima facie proof of an ongoing relationship between Weinstein and the Mossad.  But another argument further supports this view.  Channel 10’s military reporter told his audience (Hebrew) that in this transaction, the arms dealer was actually doing a service for his country, since the spare parts he was attempting to send to Iran were deliberately flawed.  He compared it to the sabotaged centrifuges western companies shipped to Iran some years ago, which hindered its nuclear program for a time. But this claim is a fraud.  First, the F-4 is an ancient plane.  Iran’s air force is completely outclassed by its Gulf neighbors who have the latest U.S. military craft, and Israel.  If someone wanted to sabotage any Iranian technology they’d target something much more advanced and critical to its military posture.  Second, if the spare parts were bogus why did the U.S. and Greece seize the shipment and commence an investigation?  Presumably, the U.S. would want such equipment to reach Iran and be installed in the planes so they wouldn’t be able to fly. Third, as readers will know, I’ve been the target of similar disinformation attempts by the Mossad myself in the past.  Though I can’t say my record is perfect in resisting these blandishments, in this case I could smell deception a mile away.  There is one final reason why this particular claim stinks: it’s meant to cover up both the security forces’ previous collaboration with a dirty Israeli arms merchant; and the fact that Israeli officials played no role in stopping Weinstein.  In other words, they’re up to their eyeballs in it.  The optics of Mossad collusion with such questionable characters especially in light of Israel’s official position demanding ever-fiercer sanctions against Iran, is terrible for Israel.  One of the ways to freshen this stinky episode up is to claim that Weinstein was actually a patriot doing his duty on behalf of his country.  The whole thing stinks to high heaven. As far as I know, Israeli media have still not reported Weinstein’s name associated with this story.  A shameful lack of fortitude. In a related matter, Yossi Melman published a damning portrait of the Mossad’s campaign of sabotage against Iran’s nuclear program, which included a massive cyber-sabotage campaign using worms like Stuxnet and Flame, destruction of an entire missile complex, and the assassination of five nuclear scientists.  He wrote:

We can assume that the assassinations stopped because they didn’t lead to the cessation of Iran’s military nuclear program [sic].  Their purpose had been twofold: psychological and practical.  To assassinate key scientists in the program and so to disrupt for a period of time the work, until such time as suitable substitutes could be found [to replace them].  Similarly, to send a message to Iran’s scientific community that it wasn’t ‘helpful’ for them to involve themselves in this project, since it could cost them their lives. But two things are clear: when the assassination campaign began Iran had between 2,000-3,000 centrifuges.  To date, Iran has 20,000 centrifuges.  This week it even announced the development of an advanced model which can spin 15 times faster than the one in current use.  It can enrich substantially more uranium at an even faster rate. Another thing which is clear: Iran’s counter-terror security services, who were embarrassed by Israel’s successes and whose pride was damaged, learned their lesson.  They learned the methods used in the killings and sharpened their vigilance, briefed the most important scientists and gave them bodyguards.  Surveillance of suspected conspirators was also increased. As a result of all this, it became clear to those responsible for the sabotage policy that the next time they might not be as lucky, and the agents might be captured.  Their fate, after severe torture and interrogation, would be guaranteed: hanging from a construction crane in an Iranian central square.  Also, there is a new international reality in the aftermath of the preliminary accord that was signed with western powers and Iran.  This decreased the chance that we will see such sabotage in future.

From its inception, I argued strenuously that this entire policy was stupid and useless.  The fact that the NSA had cooperated in creating some of these cyber-war tools was not only embarrassing, but dangerous.  Unfortunately, the assassinations went on far too long.  But if they have stopped, it can only be a good thing.  The damage they’ve done to the lives of Iranian victims and survivors and to Israel’s standing, is deep and almost irreparable.  Chalk it up to yet another Mossad failure in Israel’s covert war against Iran.

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{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Raimo Kangasniemi February 19, 2014, 12:24 AM

    Germany actually used F-4 until last year. It is indeed an ancient plane, first light in 1958, but F-16 flew in 1974, F-22 has been in development since 1981 and so on. It’s a pretty versatile plane and although there are different numbers for top speed around, with the usual claim of Mach 2.2 it beats F-16, F-18, F-22 and F-35 when it comes to speed – losing to also venerable F-15. So it sees use mostly as a reconnaissance aircraft.

    The idea that Iran could be fooled with faulty parts beyond one time seems a bit odd to me. Another thing – Greece itself has F-4s. Might be easier for Iran to try to get spare parts from Greece or other countries still flying the planes instead of Israel of all states.

  • Eric February 19, 2014, 6:34 AM

    you do realize that Iran is a theocracy that terrorizes its own citizens, executes homosexuals,and finances worldwide terrorism, amongst other crimes. so my question to you is: why is any attempt, no matter how supposedly futile (for all you know these assassinations could very well have placed back Iran’s nuclear facilites years) to be considered a bad thing?

    • Genie February 19, 2014, 4:21 PM

      @Eric,
      Iran is a Democracy, in fact, in the last election – the turnout was 70%.
      The fact that Iran is also a Theocracy, does not delete its Democracy.

      Iran finances terrorism? No, that would be the USA and Israel.

    • Richard Silverstein February 19, 2014, 5:03 PM

      @ Eric: The hasbara brigade has arrived. Iran a theocracy? Heavens. Israel, what is it? I’d say pretty damn close to a theocracy as well, given the control the extreme Orthodox ultra-nationalist right exercises over the political scene. Financing worldwide terrorism? I think not. As for worldwide terrorism, I’d say there are many nations in the world who would award that prize to the U.S.

      If Yossi Melman, one of Israel’s foremost security journalists says the Israeli sabotage-assassination campaign failed, and you want to say otherwise? That’s rich. As for whether it was a bad or good thing: I say it was bad morally, legally, and practically. Melman says it was bad in a purely practical sense. And you say even though it didn’t have any impact, it was a good thing. BTW, Melman proved that the assassinations didn’t deter or inhibit Iran’s nuclear program. Do you have information that proves otherwise??

      • Eric February 19, 2014, 11:14 PM

        way to stay relevant Silverstein. first off one mans opinion of whether the sabatoge campaign worked or not does not prove your point, it merely means you’ve found someone who’s viewpoint fits into yours. second the fact that religious parties in Israel hold a disproportionate amount of power, while unfortunate, does not at all mean Israel is a theocracy, and does not hide the fact that the terrorist regime in Tehran has called for both Israel and the United States’ destruction. while I’m sure Israel’s demise wouldn’t bother you all that much think of a threat a country like that armed with nuclear weapons would mean for U.S (and your) security

        • Richard Silverstein February 20, 2014, 1:08 AM

          @ Eric: Do you know who Yossi Melman is? You call him “one man.” Like Glenn Greenwald is “one man.” Clearly, Melman is no Greenwald, but his command of the Israeli security apparatus is complete. If you doubt him you’re either a far right extremist or ignorant (or both).

          the terrorist regime in Tehran has called for both Israel and the United States’ destruction.

          THis is another piece of utter ignorance on your part. I call it “ignorance” because I’d prefer not to think you were lying. If you believe this is true then you’re merely ignorant. But from now on you know it’s not true & if you ever say it again here you will be a liar. I allow neither lies nor liars to participate here.

          I’m sure Israel’s demise wouldn’t bother you all that much

          This too is either a piece of abject ignorance or a lie. But I’m telling you it’s absolutely false & if you say anything close to it in future you will lose your comment privileges.

          Before you comment at a site for the first time, it’s a good idea to read the author’s views on a variety of subjects. If you’d spent the least amount of time doing so you’d know how absolutely stupid & wrong your claims about my views are.

          You’ve been warned…

        • Davey February 20, 2014, 6:03 PM

          Wait Wait! Hasn’t Israel been threatening an attack on Iran for a long time? For a while, the threat was daily! And the US has been taking aim as well. As for destroying Israel, the only Israel anyone wants to see gone is the militaristic, fascist, one-party state structure now in place. (The one party is Zionist.) Can’t blame these complainers. Human rights and equality and justice are just so much in vogue nowadays.

    • Davey February 19, 2014, 6:41 PM

      What the IOF does in the West Bank or the IDF to Gaza, that’s “terrorism.” Who finances these? The US taxpayer mainly.

    • William Burns February 20, 2014, 4:55 AM

      Because murder is bad?

  • Gilles Munier February 19, 2014, 11:34 PM

    Des armes pour l’Iran : les noms des trafiquants israéliens
    Par Gilles Munier
    Le quotidien israélien Haaretz a annoncé le 17 février dernier la découverte du trafic d’armes entre Israël et l’Iran (1), mais n’a dit mot de l’implication probable d’Avichai Weinstein dans cette affaire. Pourtant, ce n’est pas la première fois que ce juif religieux, est pris en flagrant délit de commerce illicite avec la République islamique. En 1999, avec son beau-frère Eli Cohen, il aurait livré des armes canadiennes à l’Iran, via la Belgique.
    Le site israélien Tikun Olan (2) rappelle qu’en 2003, la société QPS appartenant à Weinstein avait commandé aux Etats-Unis des pièces détachées de Phantom F-4 et de radars militaires destinés à l’Iran, des systèmes de guidage de missiles Hawk et des amplificateurs audio de haute fréquence pour avions de chasse F-5. Ces matériels destinés à l’Iran, exportés sans autorisation du gouvernement étasunien avaient été en partie livrés en Israël à Binyamina-Givat Ada, au sud de Haïfa, par L & M Manufacturing et NESCO NY Inc, deux entreprises basées à Brooklyn dirigées par Leib Kohn, son partenaire aux Etats-Unis.
    A l’époque, le trafic avait été découvert par la police israélienne, Leib Kohn arrêté, mais pas Weinstein et Cohen. Le journaliste de la chaine de télévision israélienne Canal 2 qui a rendu compte du dernier scandale, pense qu’il s’agit d’« une sorte d’opération d’infiltration » et que son organisateur – dont il n’a pas donné le nom – « n’a pas agi contre les intérêts d’Israël » (3). De son côté Tikun Olan laisse entendre que ce pourrait bien être Weinstein qui a vendu à l’Iran des pièces défectueuses de centrifugeuses !
    A suivre…
    (1) Report: Israeli arms dealers tried to sell Iran spare jet parts
    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.574752
    (2) Serial israeli sanction buster again guilty of shipping arms to Iran
    http://www.richardsilverstein.com/2014/02/17/serial-israeli-sanctions-buster-again-guilty-of-shipping-arms-to-iran/
    (3) Jerusalem silent on report Greece blocked Israeli arms shipments to Iran
    http://www.timesofisrael.com/greece-intercepts-israeli-sent-arms-shipments-to-iran/
    Sur le même sujet, lire aussi:
    Découverte d’un trafic d’armes entre Israël et l’Iran
    http://www.france-irak-actualite.com/

    • Oui February 20, 2014, 5:34 AM

      U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut (New Haven)
      CRIMINAL DOCKET FOR CASE #: 3:04-cr-00125-CFD All Defendants
      Case title: USA v. Kohn et al

      Complaints
      22:2778B.F and 18:2 and 371 – Did cause the export of United States Munition List items without a license and without approval from the United States Department of State, and aid and abet and consipre to do the same.

      Note: Leib Kohn also known as Leo Cohn – got off with less than a slap on the wrist. It was a felony offense, however count #2 was dismissed on the motion of the United States. Pursuant to section 38(g)(4) of the AECA and Section 127.7(c) of the ITAR, both companies [plus Leib Kohn per May 22, 2007] were statutorily debarred as of the date of their AECA conviction.

      U.S. man admits role in smuggling arms to Israel

      HARTFORD, CT (Haaretz) Dec. 16, 2004 – A New York City businessman admitted to participating in an arms-smuggling ring that shipped missile and fighter jet components from the United States to Israel and possibly on to Iran.

      Leib Kohn pleaded guilty to conspiracy, admitting only that he knew the weapons parts were bound for Israel. Investigators allege an Israeli arms dealer may have been relaying the equipment to Iran.

      Kohn used his two Brooklyn-based companies, L&M Manufacturing and Nesco NY Inc., to buy the parts from companies in Connecticut and California. In March, Israeli police raided a warehouse in the town of Binyamina, discovering some of the equipment Kohn had shipped. An arms dealer, Eli Cohen, was later arrested on suspicion of planning a sale to Iran.

  • Oui February 19, 2014, 11:59 PM

    More papers are reporting on the case. I agree with your statements in the update. Obama and Netanyahu are nose-to-nose in a show of force on the I-P framework paper and the Iran nuclear negotiations. The assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists had to stop after the US exposed the Israelis were likely behind the operations. Even “dove” Peres made some nasty statements about the Iranians last week.

    Are Israeli arms merchants selling weapons to Iran?

    According to the paper, the secret operation began was underway in late 2012 and concluded in April of 2013. But the most shocking part of the report is that the illegal shipment appears to have originated from Binyamina-Giv’at Ada, a small Israeli town located 30 miles south of Haifa. Investigators said the illicit transfer had been facilitated via a Greek firm registered in the Athens district of Votanikos, called “Tassos Karras SA”, which appears to be a front company.

    Is it possible that Israeli arms merchants are supplying military spare parts to Iran?

    The Israeli government has refused comment on the case. But Israeli media claimed that Washington had alerted Tel Aviv about the illegal shipment, and that Israeli officials were aware of —and might even have participated in— the interception operation. But The Times of Israel said that, if true, the Kathimerini report would reveal a “shocking effort by Israelis to supply arms to [Israel’s] most bitter enemy”. [The story appears in Greek newspaper Kathimerini, which is distributed with the International New York Times. In second shipment « voltage output sensor » used in naval aircraft type F-14. And in this case, the U.S. agencies have informed the Financial Crime that the component is manufactured/delivered by Hamilton Sundstrand and is listed in U.S. munitions applications for F-14 Tomcat.]

    However, a report on Monday by Israel’s Channel 2 television station suggested that the shipment might have been part of an Israeli-led sting operation [sic] against the government of Iran, and that it was not necessarily the case that “whoever did this was [...] acting against Israel’s interest”.

    Albawaba: Report Israel tried to sell arms to Iran
    IsraelDefense: “Israeli Company Sold Aircraft Parts to Iran”
    JPost: Report: Israeli weapons dealers tried to send jet parts to Iran in violation of embargo

    • Oui February 20, 2014, 6:25 AM

      Gag order lifted today: the military censor has released for publication that two Israel’s are being interrogated on suspicion of trying to ship spare parts to Iran for its fighter jets and anti-aircraft missiles.
      Two Israelis arrested in Iran arms sales case

      (Times of Israel) – Two arms dealers were arrested on suspicion of selling military aircraft parts to Iran, Channel 2 reported. Avihai Weinstein and Eli Cohen were said to be under investigation by the Israel Police and the Defense Ministry’s security investigation arm. The police would not confirm the report to The Times of Israel, but said the matter was familiar to them but could not comment further because it was under investigation by foreign law enforcement agencies.

      Weinstein and Cohen have both been investigated multiple times for allegedly trying to sell and ship military equipment to the Islamic Republic in violation of international sanctions. The two had previously tried to ship the arms to Iran via intermediary states such as the United States, Germany, Thailand and Portugal, Channel 2 reported. According to the report, Cohen has been investigated six times on such charges in the past 12 years.

      According to a Haaretz report from 2004, Cohen and Weinstein were suspected of attempting to sell Hawk missiles and radar systems used in Phantoms. Two years earlier they attempted to sell parts for Israeli-made armored personnel carriers, but were never indicted.

      Their company, R.S.P. Rebuilt Spare Parts, was not available for comment at the time of publication. [Is a company categorized under Iron & Steel Forgings. Address : 19 HAASIF Binyamina, Israel, 30500 ; Phone Number : (724) 638-0393]

      • Oui February 20, 2014, 12:51 PM

        R.S.P. Rebuilt Spare Parts Ltd. listed on procurement list of U.S. Government Contracts!!
        Recent purchase orders years 2009-2010
        SmartProcure is an online information service that provides access to local, state, and federal government procurement data.

  • Fred Plester February 20, 2014, 8:53 AM

    Has this article provoked any mischief from the cyber Hasbara? I had some trouble getting connected to this today.

    • Richard Silverstein February 20, 2014, 12:29 PM

      @ Fred Plester: The server was down for about 15 minutes just before you posted your comment. Sorry.

      Just found out my domain registrar experienced a DOS attack earlier today. That explains the various outages.

  • bluto February 20, 2014, 3:31 PM

    ‘This would be the Obama administration pointing out the hypocrisy of Israel demanding punitive measures against Iran when it was violating them all along’

    There’s going to be ‘a whole lot more of where that came from’, particularly from the EU (EU Pres Schulz, calling Israel on ‘Water Apartheid’ vis-a-vis with the Knesset, the increasing santions, etc), as the Apartheid part of Israel slides down the drain to the ICC in Sept 2014

    There’s two occasions – actually kind of more – where Obama shut Netanyahu/AIPAC down by threatening to go public with the American people about who was pushing us into war’, like who pushed us into the Iraq War (the Neocons, AIPAC, Sharon, Netanyahu, etc). That’s what Obama actually did by throwing Bibi and the whole Israel Lobby to the American people and the ‘thousand to one’ calls (- which are actually a thousand outraged American people to every AIPAC troll AIPAC can muster to call in – which is every one of them three times from different phones) to stop the Lobby’s drive of the US into Syria (-and immediately Iran).

    That’s also what Biden said to the Romney camp, during the re-election and Bibi’s push on Obama/Romney to attack Iran, ‘why don’t you just come out and say you want a war?’. That sure shut them up. That’s what the Obama camp just came out and said about the Israeli/AIPAC drive to destroy the ‘Iran Talks’

    Exposing the Israeli Lobby to ‘why they want a war?’, the answer of course be the infamous published Clean Break Plan for Protecting the (Israeli Realm) written by the American architects of the GWOT, which dovetailed the Clean Break Plan, which was their published (Neocon) intent all along.

    ‘Being Superior (or Specially Entitled after the Holocaust – and the myriad ways they inter-relate, or at least the way they are used by the AIPAC and the Eretz Israel-afficionados) Means You Never Have to Say You’re Sorry’ – the Israeli state motto (- coined by golda meir, shimon peres, etc)

    The Superior Victim and How This Can be Used to Get Palestine for Free’

    Israelis had better get used to it – because Bennett, Lieberman and Netanyahu are ALL IN for fighting it out as a Jewish Supremacist Apartheid-State – that pesky South African debacle be damned.

    After all, the Afrikaners weren’t Jews, and therefore couldn’t be expected to match ‘Jewish ingenuity’, the Supremacist Triumphant Only Jews Count-State’s political clout in the US, and whatever vanishing political capital is left (answer: NONE) on the ‘Holocaust Get Out of the Hague-Free Card’/’You’re an Anti-Semite for Calling me a War Criminal-Card’

    Israel is going to the ICC in Sept 2014 with Bennett, Netanyahu, and Lieberman at the helm… if that isn’t the Perfect Storm for Apartheid please tell me a better one.

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