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Elite units reportedly preparing for activation against Israel ‘when needed’
Posted: March 9, 2006 1:00 a.m. Eastern

JERUSALEM – There have been some indications elite Iranian soldiers
infiltrated Israel and established dormant cells in the West Bank to be
activated by Iran at a later date, security officials told WND.

Israeli and Palestinian security services have searched in the West Bank for
the soldiers, who are thought to be members of the Al-Quds Forces, the
extraterritorial operations unit of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards,
security officials said.

The Iranian agents may have infiltrated as long as three years ago with
instructions to set up inactive cells in the West Bank that would become
operational later, said the officials, adding they do not suspect the agents
are regularly involved in current terror activity or in channeling Iranian
funds to Palestinian terror groups.

“Their purpose would be to create an infrastructure for the day they are
called to act against Israel,” said a senior security official.
The official said information obtained pointed to the Hebron area as a
possible location for the alleged Iranian cells, though he said to date no
suspected Iranian soldiers have been found.

Although Tehran has long financed Palestinian terror organizations, the
infiltration of Iranian soldiers into Israel would mark a significant
escalation of Tehran’s presence in the Palestinian territories.

Israel and the United States have been working with the international
community to isolate Iran, accusing it of attempting to develop an illicit
nuclear weapons program.

There have previously been unconfirmed media reports elite Iranian soldiers,
reportedly members of the Pasdaran, a Revolutionary
Guards rocket unit, took positions at Hezbollah bases in southern Lebanon
close to Israel’s northern border.

Israel says Iran uses the Hezbollah militia as a conduit to channel funds to
Palestinian terror groups, including Islamic Jihad, which took
responsibility for every suicide bombing since several Palestinian groups
agreed to a truce with Israel last year.

This week, WND broke the story a West Bank Islamic Jihad operative opened
what he referred to as an “Iranian ideological embassy” in the Palestinian
territories to espouse Shia Muslim beliefs – including Islam’s waging of a
final, apocalyptic battle against “evil” – and to help spread Iranian
theocracy and rule throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“We want the Palestinian people to be exposed to the Iranian heritage and
Shia principles. [Our goal is] to reinforce the relations between the
Islamic republic of Iran and the Palestinian people. We are part of the
Iranian Islamic project in the Middle East,” Muhamad Gawanmeh, director of
Iran’s new Shia Council in Palestine, said in an interview.

Gawanmeh opened the council’s headquarters in Ramallah, and said there are
plans to expand Iranian offices to several other major Palestinian cities in
the West Bank and Gaza with official sanctioning from Tehran.

The council, which recently also opened an office in Egypt, claims to
already have a membership of several thousand Palestinians.
Gawanmeh said Iran’s Shia Council will not be involved in “military
operations,” but will promote Iranian theocracy to the local population and
serve as a conduit for Tehran’s interests in the area.

“We want the council to be a gate for the Palestinian people to receive the
help of Iran and the Shiate world. We already have large numbers of members
and supporters,” Gawanmed said.

He said the council seeks to espouse Shia Muslim ideology in the
Sunni-dominated Palestinian territories, including the belief in the return
of the Twelfth Imam to lead an apocalyptic world battle against “evil.”

Shia Muslims believe Muhammad’s family – the 12 Imams – were the best
sources of knowledge about the Quran and Islam and were the most trusted
carriers and protectors of Islamic tradition. They believe in a dynasty of
Islamic authorities and promote a hereditary class of spiritual leaders they
believe have divine powers.

Sunni Islam in part follows the teachings of Islamic caliphs who proclaimed
leadership after Muhammad’s passing but were not blood relatives of the
prophet. The caliphs interpreted important parts of Muhammad’s hadith – or
tradition – that Shias reject.

Sunni Muslims make up about 85 percent of Muslims all over the world. The
largest sect of the Shias, called The Twelvers, believe there were 12 imams
after Muhammad and that the last one, Imam Mahdi, still lives, but he cannot
be seen until Allah determines it is time to prepare the faithful for
Judgment Day.

The Twelvers count Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad among their
faithful. They believe Imam Mahdi will return to lead the forces of
righteousness against the forces of evil in a final, apocalyptic world

Some Mideast analysts fear Ahmadinejad may be pursuing nuclear weapons in
part to precipitate the final, Mahdi-led battle. In a speech in Tehran in
November, Ahmadinejad reportedly said his main mission is to “pave the path
for the glorious reappearance of Imam Mahdi, may Allah hasten his
reappearance.” His Cabinet has reportedly given $17 million to the Jamkaran
mosque, site of a well at which Shia Muslims believe Mahdi disappeared over
a thousand years ago.

The council’s Gawanmeh went on to credit Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal’s
recent visit to Tehran with strengthening official Palestinian ties to the
Iranian leadership and emboldening Iran to sanction the opening of its new
Palestinian office.

“Now that Hamas was adopted by Iran, who announced a huge financial support
to Hamas and to the Palestinian people, and now that Hezbollah is facing a
Zionist-American conspiracy to disarm, we decided that this is the most
suitable moment to declare the foundation of our council in Palestine and to
start acting publicly,” Gawanmeh said.

Iran last week pledged financial support to Hamas to replace an expected
halt of European and U.S. aid to the new Palestinian government.

Media reports said Iran would give as much as $250 million to the PA, but
Hamas officials said no actual amount had been discussed.

Hamas chief Meshaal, in Tehran two weeks ago for a round of talks with
Iranian officials, said Iran would have an increased role with the PA.

IMRA – Independent Media Review and Analysis
Website: www.imra.org.il

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