Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to ambassadors of NATO states at the King David Hotel, Jerusalem, on January 9, 2018.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Israeli intelligence has thwarted mass terrorist attacks in Europe that “involve civil aviation,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday, in a possible reference to 9/11-type attacks planned against European targets using hijacked aircraft.
Speaking in Jerusalem to ambassadors of NATO countries, Netanyahu said that the world is threatened by radical Sunni groups – initially led by al-Qaida, now by Islamic State – and radical Shi’ites led by Iran.
“When we talk about ISIS it’s important to understand that Israel helps Europe in two fundamental ways,” the prime minister said. “The first is that we have – through our intelligence services – provided information that has stopped several dozen major terrorist attacks, many of them in European countries. Some of these could have been mass attacks, of the worst kind that you have experienced on the soil of Europe and even worse, because they involve civil aviation.
Israel has prevented that, and thereby helped save many European lives.” He did not elaborate.
Netanyahu has said many times that Israeli intelligence has helped thwart numerous terrorist attacks in Europe.
The second manner in which Israel helps Europe and NATO fight Islamic State is by preventing the establishment of “ISIS West” in Sinai, he said.
Netanyahu said that with Islamic State on the retreat in Syria and Iraq, it is trying to establish an alternative base in Sinai.
“Israel is contributing to preventing that in myriad ways, and in general I would say that Israel is the most powerful indigenous force in the Middle East that fights radical Islam,” he said.
Turning to Iran, Netanyahu paraphrased Henry Kissinger and said that the Islamic Republic is dangerous because it is “a cause, not a country.”
The cause, he said, “is worldwide domination under their brand of Islamic militancy.”
Iran is dangerous for two reasons: because it wants to acquire nuclear weapons, and because it is trying to establish a “territorial empire from Tehran to Tartus on the Mediterranean,” enveloping and eventually conquering the Middle East, the prime minister said.Speaking just hours after Syria accused Israel of carrying out attacks on military installations east of Damascus, Netanyahu said that Jerusalem remains “absolutely committed to preventing Iran” from establishing a military base in Syria, and “we back our words with actions.”
Netanyahu told the NATO ambassadors that Iran’s goal of “conquest and colonization of Syria” includes plans to bring in as many as 100,000 Shi’ite fighters under Iranian command.
If this happens, he said, there will be continuous Sunni-Shi’a warfare in Syria, as “you’ll have the son of ISIS and the grandson of al-Qaida that will be fighting this new Shi’ite force. Where will the spillover happen? In Europe. Where will the human flow go? To Europe. Who’s preventing that right now? Israel.”
MOSSAD HEAD Yossi Cohen also related to Iran in comments made public on Tuesday. During a meeting with the Finance Ministry’s wage division on Monday evening, Cohen said that Iran was “coasting into the Middle East undisturbed” and creating a situation where an “air and land corridor has been created that pours Shi’ite fighters into the region,” to realize Iran’s vision.
These forces include Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, but also Shi’ite fighters who are not Iranians. “Some of them are Afghans,” he said.
Cohen said the previous US administration’s policy of “leading from behind” in the Mideast created a vacuum in Syria that the Iranians and Russians were eager to fill.
Russia has moved back into the region over the last three years, creating new challenges for Israel, he said.
Cohen said the Trump administration is more willing to take into account Israel’s security concerns than the previous administration. There has been a positive change from Israel’s perspective of the US understanding of the threat that Iran poses not only to Israel, but to the world, he said.
Regarding the recent protests in Iran, Cohen – acknowledging that Israel would like to see a “significant revolution” there – said Israel should not have great expectations.
“Perhaps it will happen in the future,” he said.
The Mossad director said Israel has “eyes and ears – and more – in Iran,” and that the protesters there are “crying out against the disappointing economic situation” in the country following promises made by President Hassan Rouhani that it would improve following the signing of the nuclear deal in 2015.
He said that the Iranian economy was flourishing, but that the money was going to Iran’s security and intelligence apparatuses, as well as to expansion “in the Middle East and beyond.”
The protesters are being put down with considerable force, he said.