September 23, 2007

That Glow On The Syrian Horizon

Israel captured nuclear material in a daring raid on a joint facility operated by Syria and North Korea before bombing it into oblivion, the Times of London reports today. Tests indicate that the nuclear material originated in North Korean facilities. It indicates that the "Axis of Evil" still works together for proliferation and other mischief:

Israeli commandos seized nuclear material of North Korean origin during a daring raid on a secret military site in Syria before Israel bombed it this month, according to informed sources in Washington and Jerusalem.

The attack was launched with American approval on September 6 after Washington was shown evidence the material was nuclear related, the well-placed sources say.

They confirmed that samples taken from Syria for testing had been identified as North Korean. This raised fears that Syria might have joined North Korea and Iran in seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.

Israeli special forces had been gathering intelligence for several months in Syria, according to Israeli sources. They located the nuclear material at a compound near Dayr az-Zwar in the north.

Israel sought American approval for the bombing of the compound, but the Bush administration required solid proof before giving it. The Israelis brought information showing North Korean personnel staffing the facility, but Bush insisted that the Israelis had to prove that the facility was developing WMD. The raid took the nuclear material out of the compound, and only on September 6th -- after testing had shown that the Israelis were correct -- did they get American approval.

This gives us some interesting secondary information. First, despite its reputation, the Bush White House does not shoot first and ask questions later. Bush did not easily support this mission, even though Syria has conducted assassinations in Lebanon and supplies terrorists in Iraq. The administration wanted hard, incontrovertible proof before supporting an attack on Syria. And the Israelis waited to get it before bombing the compound, risking their intel operatives in a very dangerous burglary rather than acting unilaterally.

Also, it shows that Syria hasn't been able to develop its own nuclear program, and that North Korea has tried to fill the gap for its AoE ally. Presumably, Kim Jong-Il is doing the same for the other point of the triangle, Iran. The lack of nuclear sophistication in Syria makes Israel breathe a little easier, but Bashar Assad hasn't given up on WMD, as the chemical weapon explosion in July, which killed dozens of Syrian and Iranian technicians, demonstrates.

In the wake of the Israeli raid on the Dayr az-Zwar compound, the "accident" might not have been an accident at all. The Syrians have to start wondering what Israel knows, and where its agents have been sent. Israel has decided to take the momentum away from Syria -- and this second Osirak shows just how successful they can be. Assad should be very, very concerned.


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Comments (28)

Posted by starfleet_dude | September 23, 2007 9:58 AM

If the Times report bears out, it's not surprising Syria is being mum about the attack as they're one of the signatories to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

Posted by newton | September 23, 2007 9:58 AM

I have just one thing to say...


Posted by Eric | September 23, 2007 10:10 AM

It fascinates me that so much cloak and dagger work is conducted throughout the world by U.S., Israeli, U.K., Australia, Spain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the list goes on and on. All of this information, or most of it, gets processed by friendly intelligence agencies. Eventually, that information which is important finds its way to the proper recipient within our government.

The public never hears most of this information. Occasionally, we get a small glimpse into the world of our leaders through stories such as this.

That is why I say, over and over again, The President knows more than we do. He has data, which he cannot share, and he acts upon it. I believe that it is secret information that has prevented Congress from de-funding the war. They (Congress) all have different levels of clearance, or in some cases, more or less privilege within the circles of secret knowledge, and I believe that the only logical reason for the Democrats to not de-fund the war is because despite their campaign rhetoric, they don’t want to de-fund.

They all know something that we don’t.

Posted by The Mechanical Eye | September 23, 2007 10:29 AM

Still, color me skeptical.

As another blog pointed out, what would Syria do with nuclear material? Look on a map -- Damascus and Tel Aviv would be sister cities if Syria were friendly to Israel, and pretty much any nuclear attack on the jewish state would dump a lot of radiation onto Assad'a nation.

Also, after years of intelligence bungling, I'm not going to get too excited about anonymous sourcing from "well-placed" people. We've been through that before, to our chagrin.


Posted by Angry Dumbo | September 23, 2007 10:45 AM

I was going to say that it was either amazing or sadly unamazing how little attention this story has received in the MSM.

Baby Assad kills his political opponents (five in two years at last count) and the world media blinks.

Posted by sashal | September 23, 2007 10:48 AM

this administration needs proof before launching an attack on somebody .
Guess, there are some lessons from Iraq's screw up that has been learned ?
Will looming attack on Iran require the same scrutiny ?

Posted by Hope Muntz | September 23, 2007 10:52 AM

I'd color you 'naive'. You talk about Assad as having a nation; he doesn't, any more than Kim or Ahmadinejad do. What they rule over instead are giant plantations full of human shields. In addition, all three believe their 'nation' to be far vaster than it actually is: Kim believes himself the heir to the Korean kingdom, comprising South Korea and parts of Manchuria, while Iran dreams of restoring the Persian Empire. Syria is a French construction; the Assads believe Damascus should once again be the capital of a pan-Arab Caliphate. What would they do with nukes? Threaten and destabilize.

You are a typical product of a western liberal democracy, 'mechanical eye', in that you are both ignorant of history and imagine the world to be full of people exactly like yourself--and therefore cannot comprehend the zero-sum brutality and reflexive military escalation of a police-state.

Posted by kingronjo | September 23, 2007 10:53 AM

looks like Assad, a fully trained opthamologist, is smarter than that thug Hussein and the mullahs. He doesn't go around bragging about his WMD's.

One day if the Isreali special ops or Army goes back into the Syrian nuclear facilities I believe they will return with components marked, "Made in Iraq". The long, slow buildup gave Hussein plenty of time to move his nuclear stores, just like in the first Gulf War he relocated his entire Air Force (what was left of it) to Iran.

Posted by pk | September 23, 2007 11:29 AM


where were you in the winter of 03. paying attention to business or simply with your head in the sand with your but pointed southeast.

the bushies and the un went through this stuff adnasueaum, congress voted on it twice, there was a history of the democrats during the slick willy administration screaming that good buddy saddam had bombs, bugs and chemicals. during the first weeks of the invasion the imbeds ran articals of the troops finding lots of good stuff.

what happened is that it was suppressed to protect lots of long time politicians on both sides of the aisle and possibley some top end government people in allied countries that we couldn't afford to lose their help.


Posted by pk | September 23, 2007 11:32 AM


i might point out that senator leahy was on the senate intelligence committee during the viet nam war. his babbling got a lot of people killed and that is why he is not on the committee anymore.

that is also why limbaugh calls him "leaky leahy".


Posted by Bob Smith | September 23, 2007 12:09 PM

As another blog pointed out, what would Syria do with nuclear material? Look on a map -- Damascus and Tel Aviv would be sister cities if Syria were friendly to Israel, and pretty much any nuclear attack on the jewish state would dump a lot of radiation onto Assad'a nation.
You assume rationality. Muslims who die from an act of war against unbelievers are given the highest honors in heaven. So why should Assad care if he kills a bunch of his countrymen in a nuclear attack on Israel? The same is true for Iran.

Posted by ajacksonian | September 23, 2007 12:09 PM

One of the more interesting parts of the Syrian WMD work isn't how extremely 'cloak and dagger' it is: but how open and well known it is, yet no one wants to become informed about it. Not only have we had reporters escaping from Syria under death-threats, but they have reported on what they know of the WMD and long-range missile complexes. Just taking one man's look, that of Nizar Nayuf, I was able to track down two of the three facilities that he had mentioned with only al-Baida being so obscure by poor imagery and steep terrain as to be unfindable. The other two, the Cerin plant mentioned by the Federation of American Scientists, and the Tal Snan undergournd facility are both plainly findable. The Cerin plant is the only agricultural facility inside a huge military district... really, why would you want SAM sites, tanks and such around a tiny agricultural facility?

Going from that you can then find the basis of the entire WMD complex: phosphate deposits. Using those one can find the phosphate mines in Syria, with one of those that has the richest concentration of uranium being heavily mined and its facilities still growing larger. Syria also was able to get a phosphate processing facility from Sweden and learned, just as a side-light, how to concentrate uranium in the process. That facility, in Homs, is a pretty large plant, and it processes ore that has gone through initial separation either in Palmyra's facility or elsewhere. Phosphates, themselves, are a necessary part of making nerve agents, like Vx and Sarin, culture media for biological resources, and, by refining uranium, getting 'yellowcake' ready for final separation and purification.

Finally, the large list of WMD and missile facilities, helps to round out the capabilities of Syria, only lacking the Deir Zzor agricultural complex, which only has one or two places within the petro complex of the region that might be suitable to such work. Again lack of imagery prevents knowing for sure. All of that just by using Google Earth, USGS, GlobalSecurity, FAS and a few other sites, like the one the reporter had his work on in Lebanon.

As to the ability of the Assad family, that has been relatively secured by Hafez making sure that all of those in the upper echelons either marry into the extended Assad family or become Alawite, or both. That has been going on since he took power, and his son obviously continues that tradition.

The Assad family also has deep and structural ties to the Kassar family, and their control over the Bekaa drug trade. The man who has been a problem in his extension of narcotics trafficking, organized crime, money laundering, drug running and terrorist expansion since the early 1980's is Monzer al-Kassar. He has ties to: Iran/Contra, BNL and BCCI Scandals, terrorism in Spain, increasing Iranian influence in Bosnia via gun running, breaking UN embargos both in the Balkans and Somalia, helping Carlos Menem get into power, starting the S. American Hezbollah franchise, bringing Imad Mugniyah in to Argentina, has ties to the Israeli Embassy bombing and AMIA Jewish center bombing ('92 and '94), sold guns and even heavy weapons to FARC, helped Mugniyah set up his North American Hezbollah cells via the pre-existing drug networks he controls, established the heroin for cocain trade with the Medellin and Cali drug cartels, did some side-business with OBL in the UK... say, why DOESN'T Syria want to get along all nice and sweet with everyone?

I can give you one good answer for why Syria wants nuclear devices and it is not Israel nor Jerusalem. Look at the entire target list it can hit with SCUD-D and next-gen NoDong missiles. The words 'nuclear blackmail' come to mind... the Suez is so nice, be a shame to have a nuclear device happen to it... or the Saudi oil fields, Ankara, Dardanelles, Athens, Cairo, Alexandria, Riyadh... Syria doesn't play nice for some reason, unless the phrase 'Hama rules' has been forgotten and the thousands dead at the hands of Hafez Assad there. Not to speak of assassinations in Lebanon...

Posted by Only One Cannoli | September 23, 2007 12:50 PM

Why would Israel seek U.S. approval? Makes me wonder if at least some of the Israelis involved in the raid entered Syria from Iraq.

Posted by Mike | September 23, 2007 1:23 PM

Eric is on target about the President and Congress having information that can not be shared with the public. That should be obvious to all. Despite their need for political posturing to keep campaign money flowing, even most Democrats in Congress understand that there are two wars going on. One is the one being fought in public, and the other being fought in the shadows.

But knowing this, does it not make one wonder about some of the hows and whys of people like George Soros,, Code Pink, Michael Moore, etc., etc.? Is Soros really just a power mad political hack wit ha lot of money, or is he really an enemy of the United State and its allies. If one assumes that there are many things our government knows that we can’t know, does it follow that some of what we see as politics is really a planned and concerted war effort by real enemies of the state?

Posted by jaeger51 | September 23, 2007 1:55 PM

Gee, how come this story isn't leading on all the MSM outlets? Kind of a sexy story, commandos, nuclear material, derring-do...could it be that the MSM doesn't want the mass public to be aware that there are bad guys who aren't part of the Western establishment? No, they wouldn't be manipulating the public for leftist ends, would they? That's just a paranoid wingnut viewpoint....

Posted by Eric | September 23, 2007 2:12 PM

Bob Smith said:
As another blog pointed out, what would Syria do with nuclear material? Look on a map -- Damascus and Tel Aviv would be sister cities if Syria were friendly to Israel, and pretty much any nuclear attack on the jewish state would dump a lot of radiation onto Assad'a nation.
You assume rationality. Muslims who die from an act of war against unbelievers are given the highest honors in heaven. So why should Assad care if he kills a bunch of his countrymen in a nuclear attack on Israel? The same is true for Iran.

Eric says:
Furthermore, the two cities are 217 km apart as the bird flies. That’s not very close. It’s not like Minneapolis-St Paul, or Cleveland-Akron. I think the real reason for Syria wanting the weapon is to prevent itself from eventual overrun by Democracy. As long as they have it, they can use it to destroy invading forces. If you go to Goggle and study the area, it adds a lot of insight to the behavior of both Iran and Syria. They are both surrounded by pro-western nations and they know their days as autocracies are surely numbered.

Posted by Tom W. | September 23, 2007 3:34 PM

"finally, this administration needs proof before launching an attack on somebody .
Guess, there are some lessons from Iraq's screw up that has been learned ?"
Why do "progressives" consistently argue like snide, spoiled, zit-faced teenagers?

Bush used intelligence from the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, the Presidential Daily Briefings, the British, and the French.

He and most of Congress agreed that there was enough of a case to overthrow Saddam by the use of force.

It never occurred to Bush that all 15 of our intelligence agencies, all of the European intelligence agencies, all of the Arab intelligence agencies, the Australians, the Russians, the Chinese, the Israelis, and the UN could be wrong.

Has that ever happened before? Nope.

And I'll bet that someday we'll find out that they weren't wrong.

You can move a lot out of a country in 18 months, which was how much time we gave Saddam by dicking around in the UN.

Posted by sherlock | September 23, 2007 3:58 PM

You can move a lot out of a country in 18 months, which was how much time we gave Saddam by dicking around in the UN.

And don't forget Sen. Jay Rockefeller's "peace mission", during which he told Saddam that Washington's patience had run out, and probably the invasion timetable too. When you are playing poker like Saddam was, it sure helps to a have someone like Jay who is willing to tell you what's in the other guy's hand.

Democrats... what would we do without them? I, for one, would love to find out.

Posted by Carol Herman | September 23, 2007 3:59 PM

... And, in a related matter; syria has stopped allowing their Al-Kay-duh dolls to cross over into Irak.


So, for those who count body bags, deaths in Irak are far fewer.

There's nothing like self-interest to propel us into the future.

Me thinks, too, that Assad wants to keep on living. And, he wants to keep on living in his palaces.

Wonder what the crackdown on gossip is like in syria? Because I read that, too. You can get killed, there, for talking.

Pays to appreciate our democracy, folks.

When you don't like what you read you can shake your head from side to side. Better than having a blade chopping it off.

Bush is VERY QUIET. The Israelis handed him a few aces. And, we don't know what he'll do. Since among the choices he has he can just coast to his exit date in January 2009.

Or not.

At least Bush has more good cards in his hands, now, than just a joker.

Go to InstaPundit! THere are videos and links to BLACKWATER. And, what probably went on.

And, America staying put in the security of bases? WHy not? Doesn't give the Shi'a a whole lot of sugar to yank out of our pockets.

WHile Maliki and Assad can share "jokes" together. For all I care.

Posted by dhunter | September 23, 2007 4:11 PM

Next time this stunt is pulled by either Isreal or the US could we possibly wait until Nan Peloser, Dirty Harry Reid, Dennis Kucinich, Leaky Leahy and any number of other anti-Americans are in country on a Muslim Dictator ass kissing trip?

At least that way maybe the media will cover it.

Posted by jr565 | September 23, 2007 4:22 PM

TomW wrote:
He and most of Congress agreed that there was enough of a case to overthrow Saddam by the use of force.
And don't forget of course the Iraqi Liberation Act signed into law in the distant past of 1998 by Clinton, and signed off on by just about all his democractic pals (not to mention nearly all of his republican pals), which called for both a regime change in iraq as well as a transition to democracy.

So not only did they sign off on the current war (er, sorry, were tricked into it by Rove's hypnotic eye) they were similarly on board using the exact rationale for the last presidents call for regime change and democracy.

I'm still waiting for the lefties to show that point in history where this turned into a Bush lied situation. was it at then end of the Clinton administration? Did all the members of the security council smack their heads and admit they were all wrong? did Clinton end containment.

Dont seem to recall that point in history.

Posted by KendraWilder | September 23, 2007 4:37 PM

Posted by Mike | September 23, 2007 1:23 PM

"Is Soros really just a power mad political hack wit ha lot of money, or is he really an enemy of the United State and its allies."

Actually, Soros is a greedy power monger whose sole motivation is making money, and more money than any human being has ever earned throughout history, at that. It's almost as if he's going for the Ginness World Record for richest human being throughout all time, past present and future.

Soros' whole agenda is to foster worldwide instability, country by country. It's through unstable monetary markets within each country/region that he has traded hundreds of millions of US dollars, Euros, yen, etc., and parlayed it all into the billions upon billions in financial wealth he controls.

And the USA is the focus of his latest efforts, because as the US economy goes, so goes the rest of the global economies, as history has proven time and time again. Hence, he and the organizations he sponsors have turned former political rivals into vicious enemies: The Democratic Party vs. the Republican Party; Or Liberals vs. Conservatives, take your pick.

The Captain, Edward Morrissey, just wrote an excellent essay on this very subject a couple of days ago:

In which he summarized Soros' activities succinctly with this statement:

"IBD believes that Soros works as a political nihilist. Showalter, in her interview on Wednesday's Heading Right Radio broadcast live from IBD's offices, says that Soros has a pattern of undermining government institutions and democratic processes. He uses instability to make money in his currency speculation, racking up billions while nations reel from the effects of his trading."

Soros is drunk on greed and power. He's out of control. The sooner the Democratic Party recognizes just how insidious his activities are and distances itself from him, will be the time when the Democratic Party, once again, will earn back the stature it once had as a major political player and factor in the USA governmental and political arena.

Yes, Soros is really an enemy of the United States, and not just her allies besides. He's an enemy of every single nation on the face of this earth, because the ONLY bottom line that matters to Soros is the bottom line on his personal financial statement.

Posted by Carol Herman | September 23, 2007 5:40 PM

Only One Cannoli, it seems to me Israelis can enter "anywhere" at will.

For instance, no calls to haniyeh. None to Abbas. Just a few guys on a donkey cart; where the locals assumed they were grocers.

For training like this? You need METHOD ACTING.

And, the Israelis were successful.

As a side effect? The useless Winograg commissioners can hold onto their "final" document; from the proctoscopy they performed on the IDF. And, let me tell you why.


And, some stuff is beyond "review."

By the way. To be a Special Ops, officer. Be it in the USA, or in Israel. There's no need to shave your beard. You spend NADA on uniforms. And, you're part of a little group. Who have trained together. Outsiders need not apply.

And, ya know what else? If these people were your neighbors you'd be cluless on what they do "for a living."

Really. Don't go expecting any parades, now.

It's a whole new approach to war.

And, it's cost-effective; though MOST EXPENSIVE to train troops to go out on missions. And, then come back.

Point to any spot on the globe, on land. And, you'd be surprised. But Special Ops have the ability to get in.

Wanna go to the water? Navy Seals, and Israel's version of this; are all over the sea.

Did Israel have choices? Ehud Barak came into the Defense Ministry on June 18th, I believe. He went right to work.

The first "deed" I read about, daalt with capturing the guy who put together Shalit's kidnapping. (That's the grocers on a donkey cart story.) To which you could add: A flight out, by helicoper, on an assignment timed EXACTLY. Worked out.

Then? Syria had a work accident on July 23rd. Followed by the BOOM in the desert. WHich the syrians are keeping as a very big secret.

Olmert helps. He's mouth is zippered.

The press will just get constipated on what they've got to absorb; without any outlets; out. Busted plumbing for them.

I guess the elites' houses are "fixer uppers." In a down housing market. And, maybe? Beyond repair.

What juicy stories! The incompetents in hollywood probably hear the cash registers ringing. But like the Boy Who Cried WOLF. Nobody trusts their fare.

Regular poison. It's wrong to sell this in large portions. But. They. Did.

Posted by Cannon | September 23, 2007 7:23 PM

I must've missed this. When was it decided that Russia did not help transport Saddam's WMD's to Syria before the US and friends went in to go get them? I have not heard this idea discussed since recent events proved that Syria had chemical weapons and were actively working toward possessing nuclear arms.

Posted by stackja1945 [TypeKey Profile Page] | September 23, 2007 8:31 PM

"The Syrians have to start wondering what Israel knows, and where its agents have been sent."
Yahweh alone knows.

Posted by El Coqui | September 24, 2007 2:14 AM

If I was Assad, I would be getting nervous by this time. He can look left and see Israeli forces and right and see American Forces. All that gives a new luster to the concept of being between a rock and a half place.

May you live on interesting times, Doc.

Posted by DaveK | September 24, 2007 5:00 AM

Given Israel's usual openness about successful operations like this one, I have to think that there is lots more going on here than a simple raid. Yes, it could be a diplomatic ploy to try and force the NorKs to stop their games, without publicly losing face. But perhaps there's another angle.

The slow trickle of info tidbits is interesting, to say the least. It's almost as though the inside info on the raid is being slowly passed out to select individuals, just to see what pops up in the press, when, and where.

If I were putting together serious plans for something a lot bigger than this Syria strike, I might use this technique to find out just who needs to be kept out of the select few who are kept informed of the Big Plan.

Or maybe I'm just a little paranoid...

My $.02

Posted by Yo! | September 24, 2007 9:55 PM

If these juicy leaked tidbits of the Israeli actions are true, they are a compelling indictment of the brutal leadership of a failed state, Syria, and an even more compelling indictment of an even more brutal leadership of an even worse failure, NoKo.

If none of these juicy tidbits is true, then Israel has at least proven (A) how spectacularly incompetent the Syrian military is at territorial defence (six-day war, anyone?), and (B) that this is PRECISELY the way you let misinformation out, a series of plausible leaks from intelligence and military "sources," with official no-comments all around. "Hey, they didn't really want us to find this out, but the media is getting tidbits, and no one is saying boo, I guess it must be true."

So, either Syria and No-Ko have been properly pistol-whipped, or shamed mercilessly without even being as evil as the leaks are portraying. No bother, they're evil enough. Lovers of freedom must rejoice.

Much as I never understood why a religion needs a country (Israel, Vatican, pick any oppressive Islamist state from among the depressingly long list), Israel gets a very hearty Mazel Tov from this atheist-leaning agnostic, who wants his daughters to grow up in safety and freedom.

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