One of the most surprising and effective weapons used by Hezbollah guerrillas during recent fighting with Israel in southern Lebanon was the Russian-made Kornet-E anti-tank weapon, a laser-guided missile that was deadly against Israel’s Merkava tanks. The question being asked by many security specialists is how the Kornets reached the terrorist group.
Edward Timperlake, a Pentagon arms technology specialist, tells us he investigated Russia’s illegal transfer of Kornet-Es to Iraq in 2003 and 2004 in cataloging the tons of foreign arms found in the country.
Mr. Timperlake led the production of the Pentagon’s Iraq Technology Transfer List after the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. Among the many foreign weapons he found had been sold to Saddam Hussein in violation of U.N. sanctions was the Kornet-E, and the report on the list included a photo of a U.S. M-1A1 tank that had been destroyed by one of the missiles in the Iraq conflict.
The Kornet-E transfers were noted in the report as a “sanction buster” by the Russians, and although how they reached Iraq is not clear, “the evidence pointed to a trans-shipment through Syria,” Mr. Timperlake said as part of interviews for the book “Treachery: How America’s Friends and Foes Are Secretly Arming Our Enemies.”
Mr. Timperlake and his former boss, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Jack Shaw, deserve credit for producing the report and giving the world an early and open-source warning of just how deadly the Russian weapon is against the military’s main battle tank.
Unfortunately, Mr. Shaw had his job reorganized out of existence the same month the report was completed in December 2004 in a dispute with other senior defense officials.
“[International Technology Service] did a very good thing in focusing on sanctions being busted by the shipment of conventional and dual-use items to Iraq,” Mr. Timperlake said. “Unfortunately, the [Israel Defense Forces] paid a price for Pentagon political score settling against ITS and Jack Shaw.”
We received this e-mail from a Special Forces soldier posted overseas. He commented on coverage of Israel’s war against Hezbollah, an Iranian-sponsored terror group:
“The only TV I have where I am is CNN International and BBC. Jeez, I had no idea how evil the U.S. and Israel are. The propaganda is staggering.”
By the way, the Jerusalem Post reports that Israeli government officials are again mad at the British Broadcasting Corp., this time for coverage that favors Hezbollah, which has killed hundreds of Americans. Israel boycotted BBC in 2003 over its perceived favorable coverage of Hamas suicide bombers.