More on the Iran-Somalia-Gaza Weapons Route

The more one looks into it, the more Elliott Abrams’ rendition of how Iran allegedly smuggles weapons to Hamas in Gaza via Somalia and Eritrea just gets weirder and weirder. Remember: he was Bush’s top Middle East adviser from December, 2002, until January 20 and, as such, had access to the most sensitive information available to the U.S. intelligence community. Yet he seems to be lending himself to an extraordinarily crude Israeli disinformation campaign in which Somalia, which is some 1500 miles from Gaza, is depicted as a key trans-shipment point for the alleged supply of weapons from Iran to Hamas.

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has now posted the Abrams transcript, including the relevant passage on the alleged Iranian-Gaza smuggling routes. Among other things, he says that “the bulk” of Iranian-origin weapons for Hamas travel the Gulf of Aden route to Yemen, Somalia, Eritrea or “places like that” before moving by land through Sudan and Egypt to the Sinai. By “the bulk,” I assume he means most. Yet it seems that the only sources who have spoken of such a land route are unidentified Israeli officials. Last week, I spoke with three experts on Somalia and piracy there, and all three said they had never heard of such a route and considered it fanciful, to say the least.

Here is the relevant passage in the interview:

GWERTZMAN: How — if I could just intersperse a question — how did the Iranian arms get to Gaza in the first place?

ABRAMS: Well, if you ask the Egyptians they will tell you that some of it comes by sea and that the Israelis need to do a better job at guarding the coastline.

I didn’t find any Israeli officials who accepted that view. They believe that these things actually do come in the tunnels. And the tunnels have, you know, one should not think of, sort of, tiny, dirty hole in the ground. These tunnels are industrial strength. Many of them have electricity and lights and there is a tunnel infrastructure in Gaza. There are tunnel courts where disputes are resolved. There are permits for tunnels. So this is really rather well regulated by Hamas.

GWERTZMAN: I mean, I’ve heard that these weapons go to Sudan and up and just up the Nile?

ABRAMS: Well, it appears that they come by sea, most of them, by sea from Iran and go around Gulf of Aiden [sic] and, right, and up ultimately they don’t, we don’t think they go through the canal, most of them by ship and out into the Mediterranean and then into Gaza. Rather, it seems that they hit land in places like Yemen or Somalia or, I guess, Eritrea to some extent, places like that, you could look at the map. And then cross over into Sinai and are taken across Sinai and then sneaked into Gaza. I don’t think this is, you know, accounts for 100% of the shipments but that seems to be the bulk of them.

Now, you will remember that at the end of the Gaza War there were pledges by the United States and a number of European countries that we would try to help interdict the seaborne part of this. And the Egyptians were supposed to try the Sinai part, before you get into the area right on the border. I don’t know whether there has actually been in the last month or so any significant increase in the maritime policing.

GWERTZMAN: Right. Next question.

Before Abrams spoke about it on the record, by far the best dissection of the story on which Abrams seems to have based his assertions about the land route appeared Feb 1 on the Moon of Alabama website which I strongly urge you to visit. Entitled “The ‘Iranian’ Weapon Ships,” it does a masterful job – far better and more detailed than I can do here — of tracing the convoluted story of the Cypriot-flagged Russian container ship Monchegorsk, which was boarded and searched by the U.S. Navy January 19 near the entrance to the Red Sea after passing through the Gulf of Aden. It was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen, who really drew attention to the incident when, asked about it by an Israeli reporter at the Foreign Press Center here January 27, Mullen suggested that unidentified weapons carried aboard the vessel were bound for Syria but were “going to end up in Gaza.” He provided no theory, however, on how they might get from Syria to Gaza.

Read the rest of Jim’s post and comment on his blog.

Author: Jim Lobe

Visit for the latest news analysis and commentary from Inter Press News Service's Washington bureau chief Jim Lobe.

12 thoughts on “More on the Iran-Somalia-Gaza Weapons Route”

  1. Piss on Elliot Abrams, that rabid neocon warmonger, that lying bastard. He’s so intent on instigating an attack on Iran that he’ll say or do anything.

  2. I will not be surprized when these “weapons ships” are revealed by Abrams to be also making stopovers in Venezuela and Sudan enroute to Gaza.

  3. Here is an official Eritrean government’s response to the false allegation….

    Bush Administration holds primary responsibility for Gaza massacre
    By Staff
    Jan 3, 2009, 13:09

    The Jerusalem Post newspaper has published a baseless and pure lie report alleging that the rockets being fired from Gaza to Israel originate from Eritrea and Iran.

    The fabricator and disseminator of this surprising and defamatory smear campaign is certainly a CIA agent.

    In the wake of its futile attempts to defame Eritrea through linking it at one time with terrorism and at another with piracy, the Bush Administration is once again engaged in futile attempts to link Eritrea with so-called infiltration of armaments into Gaza, in a bid to cover up the tragic atrocities being committed in Gaza resulting from the Administration’s obstructionist policy.

    The Eritrean government would neither be surprised nor disturbed in the event that the outgoing Bush Administration continues to resort to hostile statements and defamations emanating from a disturbed mind till the last days of its stay in office. The Government of Eritrea further declares that such destructive acts which are designed to spoil matters before President-Elect Barack Obama assumes office are but meaningless.

    Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    3 January 2009
    Asmara, Eritrea.


    1. The Eritrean government is a bunch of Marxists, not Islamist in any way. Eritrean people are about 1/2 Muslim, 1/2 Coptic Christian.

      Lester Ness

  4. no they got it wrong its really north korea shipping missiles to cuba where they go to venezuela from there they are sent san fransico from there they are sent france then to zimbabwe from there the iranian space programs sends the missiles to be stored on the dark side of the moon and then they drop them down to saudi arabia from there they take them to egypt and finaly they get confiscated by israel at the blockade

  5. Somehow, they are sailing from the S. end of the Red Sea into the Med. without going through the Suez Canal, Abrams says. Ordinarily this is impossible.

  6. It’s actually quite simple.

    The “Münstergrad” is a North Korean crewed ship, owned by the Russian Shipping Tycoon Vlad D. Transilvanyan who does business directly with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. The ship travels to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas where it picks up a supply of invisible Turbolaser cannons. These will be mounted on the joint Iranian-Palestinian “Death Star” station, which is being assembled in the Gaza strip under the cover of UN Food Aid storage facilities. The Iranians assemble sections of the station in Iran and then use a Matter Teleportation device to send them to the Palestinians as they are too big for any ship to carry. The Matter Teleportation device was built with the help of Chinese, Venezuelan, Sudanese, Burmese, North Korean, and Belarussian scientists and engineers. The Turbolaser cannons are being transported on a route to confuse potential interdiction, the “Münstergrad” first travels to Sudan, then to Eritrea, then to Somalia, then makes a stop in Argentina, following this it stops in Zimbabwe, then in Burma, Vietnam, North Korea, Russia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Honduras, Venezuela, Algeria, Libya, and then Nigeria from where Palestinian masterminds carry the Turbolaser cannons across the Sahara desert into Gaza.

    But in reality, where are these imaginary “weapons” that Palestinians are getting from Iran? Why is it the only form of counter-attack the Palestinians have is Qassam rockets? If they were really getting these mythical weapons the Palestinians would not have to rely on oversized Model Rockets to fight with Israelis. Iran produces its own(Chinese designed) shoulder fired Anti-Aircraft missiles, Anti-tank missiles, and Cruise Missiles, if this kind of equipment was really reaching Palestine I think there would be a noticeable difference in the amount of casualties on the side of the Israeli Military.

    But in reality the Palestinians are surrounded by 2 hostile Governments(Israel and Egypt) which control almost all materials that enter the Gaza strip. All road, ship, and air traffic is checked and controlled, nothing but the basic elements like fertilizer is entering Gaza, and anybody with a brain can see every Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the last several years has been a massacre of Palestinians.

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