Bin Laden Terrorists Fleeing Afghanistan Given Shelter In Syria & Syrian-Occupied Lebanon
February 22, 2002

NEW YORK – Terrorists from Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda group who are fleeing Afghanistan are being given shelter in Syria and Syrian-occupied Lebanon, according to the chief of Israeli Military Intelligence.

General Aharon Zeevi Farkash, chief of Israeli Military Intelligence, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee “that members of Al Qaeda who fled Afghanistan have taken shelter in Syria and Lebanon over the past few days,” according to the Israeli daily Ma’ariv. (Jan.22, 2002)

Morton A. Klein, National President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), said: “Syria has once again demonstrated that it is America’s enemy. And no regime that shelters Bin Laden terrorists should be immune from American military action.”

I. Bin Laden Terrorists Sheltered by Syria

* According to the latest edition of the State Department’s annual report on regimes that sponsor terrorism, during the past year, in Syrian-occupied Lebanon, “A variety of terrorist groups—including Hizballah, Usama Bin Ladin’s (UBL) al-Qaida network, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, Asbat al-Ansar, and several local Sunni extremist organizations—continued to operate with varying degrees of impunity, conducting training and other operational activities … UBL’s al-Qaida network maintained a presence in Lebanon.”

II. Syrian Support for Other Terrorists

* The Israeli government announced on Sept.30, 2001 that it recently captured more than 20 Hamas terrorists who were “trained and instructed directly by the Hamas headquarters in Syria and other countries.” Some members of the cell were “involved in suicide attacks carried out in Netanya on April 30 and May 18 this year, in which 8 Israelis were killed and over 100 wounded.”

* According to the latest edition of the State Department’s annual report on regimes that sponsor terrorism, during the past year “Syria continued to provide safehaven and support to several terrorist groups, some of which maintained training camps or other facilities on Syrian territory. Ahmad Jibril’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Abu Musa’s Fatah-the-Intifada, and George Habash’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) maintained their headquarters in Damascus. The Syrian Government allowed Hamas to open a new main office in Damascus in March.” And: “Syria granted a variety of terrorist groups—including Hamas, the PFLP-GC, and the PIJ—basing privileges or refuge in areas of Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley under Syrian control … Syria did not act to stop Hizballah and Palestinian rejectionist groups from carrying out anti-Israeli attacks. Damascus also served as the primary transit point for terrorist operatives traveling to Lebanon and for the resupply of weapons to Hizballah.”

III. Bin Laden’s Ties to the Syrian-Backed Hezbollah

Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda terrorists are closely associated with Hezbollah, a terrorist group that operates in Syrian-occupied Lebanon and receives its weapons through Syria.

* The U.S. bill of indictment against Bin Laden terrorists who went on trial in New York last year, stated that Bin Laden and his organization, Al Qaeda, “forged alliances with the National Islamic Front in the Sudan and with representatives of the government of Iran, and its associated terrorist group Hizballah, for the purpose of working together against their perceived common enemies in the West, particularly the United States.” (pp.7-8)

* Ali Mohamed, a member of Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda terrorist group who pleaded guilty to involvement in the 1998 attacks on American embassies in Africa, stated in his guilty plea (in U.S. district court on Oct.20, 2000) that “Hezbollah provided explosives training for Al Qaeda.” (Middle East Newsline, Oct.23, 2000)

* U.S. Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) said after a briefing by senior law enforcement officials last month that those officials believe Osama Bin Laden, is “very much involved with Hezbollah, Fatah, and other terrorist organizations.” (Associated Press, Sept. 13, 2001)

IV. Recent Syrian Statements Supporting Terrorism

* Killing Israelis is “Legitimate Resistance”: Damascus Radio declared on September 21, 2001: “Before speaking about an international coalition for struggling [against] terrorism, there must be an end to the Israeli terrorism…It is necessary to make distinctions between terrorism and the legitimate resistance of the occupation.”

* “Confronting Terrorism in Vain Unless it Puts An End to Israeli Terrorism”: Damascus Radio asserted on September 16, 2001 that “Confronting terrorism would be in vain and incomplete if it was not integrated and did not put an end to the Israeli Zionist terrorism by all its kinds against Arabs.” It also said that “the Israeli Mossad” is “responsible for what happened in Washington and New York.”

* “Attacks on U.S. Are a Breath of Relief”: The chairman of the Syrian government-sponsored Arab Writers Association, Ali Uqleh Ursan, wrote in the association’s journal, Al-Usbu Al-Adabi on September 15, 2001, that when he heard of the attacks in New York and Washington, “My lungs filled with air and I breathed in relief, as I had never breathed before,” because it was “the day of the fall of the symbol of American power,” the power responsible for “the oppression of the peoples in Korea and Vietnam.”

* “Right to Resist Occupation”: Syrian Information Minister Adnan Omran said on September 21, 2001, that “It is an urgent need and necessity to have an international conference on terrorism convened to stamp terrorism out and to draw distinctions between people’s rights to resist occupation.”

* “Support the Intifada”: On September 27, 2001, the Syrian government hosted a conference in Damascus of “committees supporting the Intifada” (the mass Palestinian Arab terrorism against Israel). One of the speakers was Abdullah Al-Ahmar, Assistant Secretary General of the ruling Syrian Ba’ath Party, who said that “the real terrorism” is “the organized terrorism practiced by Israel.”

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