Syria Crisis Means Confusion For Israeli Intelligence, Pols

By Dan Raviv

The uprising in Syria, which began early last year, seemed tremendously exciting — at first — for lovers of freedom and democracy.  But now, even as almost 20,000 civilians are reliably reported to have been killed by their own government, the picture is cloudy.  Frankly, Israeli leaders don’t know what they want as their favorite outcome.

all assad, syria, israel, spies against Armageddon

President Bashar al-Assad was “the Devil we know.”  Israeli intelligence apparently had his regime, and that of his father, efficiently and effectively monitored in every conceivable way.  The Israelis hated his policies — his support for Lebanon’s Hezbollah and other terrorist groups, and his close alliance with the radical government of Iran.  But at least they knew how to keep tabs on him and his stockpiles of chemical weapons and missiles.  Now, it is impossible to be sure what might happen next.

A former Reuters correspondent now living in the Washington DC area, Alan Elsner, now an executive director of The Israel Project, wrote an article praising  Israel for eliminating Syria’s nuclear capability in 2007.  The bombing raid by Israeli warplanes, never acknowledged by Israel, is written about in detail in Spies Against Armageddon — our new history of Israeli espionage and security agencies.
Here is part of what Alan Elsner wrote ( in a new on-line Jewish newspaper The Algemeiner:
by Alan Elsner

The danger presented today by the presence of Syrian chemical and biological weapons is bad enough. Just think how much more dangerous the situation would have been if there were loose nukes lying around.

According to a new history of the Mossad by reporters Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman, Spies Against Armageddon, Israel had become suspicious that the Syrians were building a nuclear facility with North Korean help. The authors said Israel sent Mossad operatives and a special forces unit into Syria several times to take samples of soil, water and vegetation and in March 2007 managed to secure photos taken inside the facility. Who took those photos remains the most closely-guarded aspect of the operation.

According to Raviv and Melman, the images provided clear evidence that Syria was building a graphite reactor similar to North Korea’s Yongbyon reactor which was used to build nuclear bombs. The Mossad assessment was that the reactor would become “hot” within a few months and would produce enough plutonium for a nuclear bomb within a year.

Once it went online, the reactor could not have been attacked without the danger of spreading deadly radiation throughout the region.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert visited Washington in June 2007 and asked then-President George W. Bush to bomb the facility. Bush refused and suggested instead that Western countries should instead “expose” the Syrian reactor. This failed to satisfy Olmert and the decision was taken to destroy the reactor — which happened in a two-minute air raid on the evening of  Sept. 6, 2007.

August 3, 2012

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