If chemical weapons have been used in Syria, where did they come from?
My Member of Parliament, George Galloway (Respect, Bradford West) has been widely ridiculed for questioning the source of any chemical weapons used in Syria.
He has been quoted as saying:
“If there has been a use of chemical weapons it was al-Qaeda who used chemical weapons. Who gave al-Qaeda chemical weapons? Here’s my theory: Israel gave them the chemical weapons so that they would use them so that they would bring the international community into the final destruction of Syria.”
No, not if you consider the following facts.
From Wikipedia: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Al_Flight_1862>
On 4 October 1992, El Al Flight 1862, a Boeing 747 cargo plane of the state-run Israeli airline El Al, crashed into the Groeneveen and Klein-Kruitberg flats in the Bijlmermeer (colloquially “Bijlmer”) neighbourhood (part of Amsterdam-Zuidoost) of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. For the location in the Bijlmermeer, the crash is known in Dutch as the “Bijlmerramp” (“Bijlmer disaster”). A total of 43 people were killed, including the plane’s crew of three, a non-revenue passenger in a jump seat, and 39 people on the ground.
Many more were injured.
This accident remains the deadliest aviation accident to ever occur in The Netherlands. The disaster was made worse by the fact that the plane exploded and started a large fire after the crash.
In 1997, however, an expert testified in the Israeli Knesset that dangerous products would have been released during combustion of the depleted uranium in the tail of the Boeing 747.
The first studies on the symptoms reported by survivors, performed by the Academisch Medisch Centrum, began in May 1998. The AMC eventually concluded that up to a dozen cases of auto-immune disorders among the survivors could be directly attributed to the crash, and health notices were distributed to doctors throughout the Netherlands requesting that extra attention be paid to symptoms of auto-immune disorder, particularly if the patient had a link with the Bijlmer crash site.
Soon after the disaster it was announced that the El Al Boeing 747 had contained fruit, perfumes, and computer components. Dutch Minister Hanja Maij-Weggen asserted that she was certain that the plane contained no military cargo.
In September 1993, the media reported that the El Al Boeing contained dangerous cargo. Some portion of the cargo proved to be Israeli national defense materials. It was also reported that a third of the cargo had not been physically inspected and that the cargo listings had not been checked.
The survivors’ health complaints following the crash increased the number of questions about the cargo.
In 1998 it was publicly revealed by El-Al spokesman Nachman Klieman that 190 liters of dimethyl methylphosphonate, a CWC schedule 2 chemical which, among many other uses, can be used for the synthesis of Sarin nerve gas, had been included in the cargo. Israel stated that the material was non-toxic, was to have been used to test filters that protect against chemical weapons, and that it had been clearly listed on the cargo manifest in accordance with international regulations. The Dutch foreign ministry confirmed that it had already known about the presence of chemicals on the plane. The shipment was from a U.S. chemical plant to the Israel Institute for Biological Research under a U.S. Department of Commerce license.
Bucks Firm Sold Sarin Component
by Joseph R. Daughen, Daily News Staff Writer
POSTED: October 03, 1998
A component of the nerve gas sarin found aboard an El Al cargo jet that crashed in the Netherlands six years ago was sold to Israel by a Bucks County chemical company, the company has acknowledged.
Solkatronic Chemicals, of West Philadelphia Avenue, Morrisville, Falls Township, has been a wholly-owned subsidiary of AirProducts and Chemicals of Allentown since May.
The Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad said the El Al jet was carrying about 50 gallons of dimethyl methylphosphonate (DMMP) when it crashed into an apartment building on Oct. 4, 1992, killing 43 people. The DMMP could have produced 594 pounds of sarin, a deadly nerve gas, the paper said.
Since then, the paper said, dozens of people living in the area have complained of skin and respiratory ailments and other health problems.
Solkatronic executive vice president John Swanciger said his firm, which employs 80 people in Morrisville, sold the chemical to the Israeli Institute for Biological Research. Solkatronic did not manufacture the chemical but purchased it from a supplier, said Swanciger.
Swanciger said the Israeli Institute obtained an export license from the U.S. Department of Commerce and said the chemical would be used to test “absorption filters” for the purpose of “personal and collective protection.”
Ray Forestal, of the Falls Township Fire Marshal’s office, described Solkatronic as “a good company” and “a good neighbor and leader in the field of safety.”
“They are not making sarin in Falls Township,” said Forestal. “DMMP has a variety of uses, and it is not one of the 600-plus chemicals the U.S. goverment has listed as extremely hazardous.”
According to Forestal, Solkatronic purchased the DMMP from Albright and Wilson America of Richmond, Va., relabeled it in Morrisville and shipped it to a JFK Airport freight forwarder.
The freight forwarder loaded it on the El Al flight.
El Al issued a statement saying the United Nations, the International Air Transport Association and the International Civil Aviation Association all had approved DMMP for air transport.
The Israeli government said the jet carried no “dangerous goods.”
Flight 1862 and Israel’s chemical secrets
Wednesday, December 2, 1998 – 11:00
By Mouin Rabbani
On October 4, 1992, El Al cargo flight LY1862, which originated at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport, took off from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport for Tel Aviv. Approximately 10 minutes later, the Boeing 747-200 ploughed into the Groeneveen and Kruitberg apartment buildings in Bijlmermeer, a south-eastern suburb.
In addition to all three crew members, 43 inhabitants are known to have been killed. Since many undocumented immigrants lived in the incinerated buildings, the actual death toll was almost certainly higher.
Whereas the initial investigation concentrated on the causes of the disaster, a systematic yet incompetent pattern of obfuscation by the Israeli and Dutch authorities concerning the doomed flight’s cargo led to mounting suspicion that LY1862 was transporting more than the alleged “perfumes and gift articles”.
Indeed, the past six years have witnessed a steady series of disclosures in the Dutch media relating to Israel’s use of El Al passenger and cargo flights to transport “strategic military goods” from the United States to Israel via Amsterdam, as well as routine fraud by Israel’s state airline over freight documents.
Nerve gas revelations
The most shocking revelation so far was made on September 30, when editors Harm van den Berg and Karel Knip of the prestigious Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad provided their readers with incontrovertible documentation that LY1862 was transporting three of the four components required for the manufacture of Sarin nerve gas.
Sarin, a highly lethal chemical weapon outlawed by international convention, is last known to have been used in the March 1995 Tokyo subway attack, in which several grams of the gas killed 12 commuters and injured more than 5000.
According to freight documents uncovered by NRC Handelsblad, LY1862 was carrying 10 18.9-litre plastic drums of dimethyl methylphosphonate (DMMP), and smaller amounts of the Sarin precursors isopropanol and hydrogen fluoride (no revelations have been made regarding the remaining precursor, thionylchloride).
The 189 litres of DMMP, sufficient for the production of 270 kg of Sarin, had been supplied by Solkatronic Chemicals of Morristown, Pennsylvania, in the US, also Israel’s supplier of the lethal CS and CN gases, which have been used by its military and police forces to kill dozens of Palestinians (including many infants) in the occupied territories during the past decade. (“Specialty gases” and “security-related products” are just a few of the goodies advertised on the company’s web site, <http://www.solkatronic.com>.)
Although DMMP is subject to stringent export controls by the US government, John Swanciger, executive vice-president of Solkatronic, confirmed that his firm applied for and received the required Department of Commerce export licences.
He added that this was the case not once, but twice: after the initial consignment was scattered all over Bijlmermeer, and despite a subsequent tightening of US export regulations, Solkatronic was allowed to replenish Israel’s chemical arsenal with an identical second shipment.
Swanciger also stated that Israel is the only foreign country to have ordered DMMP from his firm.
The role of IIBR
According to the Shipper’s Declaration of Dangerous Goods uncovered by NRC Handelsblad, the DMMP consignment was intended for use by the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) in Nes Ziona, near Tel Aviv.
(A second batch was ordered by Shalom Chemicals of Nes Ziona, a firm which, according to Ha’aretz, nobody has ever heard of and may be presumed to be a cover for 1IBR.)
Among those concerned with the proliferation of unconventional weapons, it is common knowledge that IIBR is the Israeli military and intelligence community’s front organisation for the development, testing and production of chemical and biological weapons.
As demonstrated by Mossad’s attempted murder of a Hamas leader in Jordan last year (in which IIBR supplied both the lethal poison and its antidote), it is also a pioneer in the field of medical warfare.
An anonymous biologist formerly associated with IIBR, quoted on October 4 by Uzi Nahmaini in the London Sunday Times, states, “There is hardly a single known or unknown form of chemical or biological weapon … which is not manufactured at the institute”.Nahmaini adds that the highly secretive gas factory is “surrounded by a 6ft-high concrete wall topped with sensors that reveal the exact location of any intruders, but [it] is erased from local and aerial survey maps”. He notes that at least six of the installation’s employees have been killed in “work accidents” and that even members of the Knesset are denied entry.
The common view of IIBR’s unsavoury activities is shared by residents of Nes Ziona and, apparently, Israel’s Supreme Court as well: several weeks ago, the Nes Ziona local council obtained a Supreme Court injunction barring the poison centre from expanding by 5.7 hectares on the grounds that its programs pose a potentially catastrophic public health hazard.
LY1862’s cargo also explains why the doomed flight’s pilot rejected repeated demands by Schiphol air traffic control to attempt an emergency landing in the direction of the nearby Ijsselmeer lake, instead making straight for Schiphol with precisely the consequences traffic control feared most. According to chemical warfare experts, DMMP reacts “furiously” with water, and would have resulted in a calamity too frightening to contemplate.
True to form, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s media adviser, David Bar-Ilan, immediately issued an angry and categorical denial in response to the NRC Handelsblad story, emphasising in the strongest possible terms that LY1862 was not carrying Sarin precursors.
The Israeli defence ministry, which not coincidentally functions as IIBR’s spokesperson, issued a more cryptic declaration that the flight was carrying no dangerous goods but that “this statement only concerns cargo intended for the ministry of defence”.
Despite such efforts, Israel’s disinformation campaign collapsed some 12 hours later. El Al spokesperson Nachman Kleiman, who since 1992 had remained steadfast in his tongue-tied account that El Al was unaware of the specific items transported on LY1862 but had fully disclosed these specifics to the Dutch authorities after the accident, was forced to concede that the flight was indeed transporting three of Sarin’s four precursors.
Rather pathetically, he concluded with a claim that El Al’s activities were entirely consistent with relevant regulations.
Among the immediate beneficiaries of the latest disclosures are the 700 Bijlmermeer residents and emergency workers who continue to suffer from medical and psychological conditions not dissimilar to those experienced by soldiers and civilians after the Gulf war in 1991.
Whereas initial suspicions centred on exposure to incinerated radioactive material (presumably the depleted uranium used by Boeing in the construction process, although with El Al one can never be sure), a major study is now under way to determine the role, if any, of exposure to the nerve gas ingredients aboard LY1862. The affected individuals are outraged that a possible cause of their illnesses has been kept hidden from them for six years.
Disinformation and obfuscation
The investigation into the LY1862 crash, which one Dutch researcher has likened to “a puzzle in which nearly half the pieces are missing and most of the rest are heavily damaged”, has already resulted in a number of official inquiries.
On account of Israeli stonewalling and disinformation, and a campaign of obfuscation by the Dutch government and law enforcement agencies, they have produced more questions than answers. Indeed, even before the latest disclosures, outraged parliamentarians passed a motion to begin a full parliamentary inquiry into the El Al affair.
Among questions still to be answered are why neither of LY1862’s flight data recorders have yet to surface, and the matter of two groups of “men in white suits”.
The latter, whose presence at the crash site immediately and several hours after the disaster has been alleged in sworn affidavits by Bijlmermeer residents, emergency crew members and law enforcement personnel, were said to be wearing thick protective clothing (one group was likened to “astronauts”), which permitted them to “walk through the flames unaffected” and disappear with various pieces of debris.
Although a report in June 1998 did its best to minimise the allegations and dismiss them as figments of the imagination, it nowhere contains a clear and categorical denial of the allegations themselves.
The accounts, some of which claim that the second group arrived in vehicles bearing French licence plates, raise the possibility that operatives from Mossad’s European headquarters in Paris were involved in the removal of evidence. Staff attached to the Mossad station at Schiphol airport, and covert Dutch (or NATO) emergency units, may also be shown to have been involved if the allegations are ever seriously investigated.
Another aspect requiring clarification concerns the multiple and contradictory freight documents supplied to Dutch authorities.
A Dutch TV program early this year featured statements by former El Al employees at Frankfurt airport and elsewhere that they regularly tampered with such documents on behalf of their superiors.
The Amsterdam engineering firm Omegam, which investigated the crash site, discovered extensive traces of tributylphosphate (TBP) and concluded that at least several hundred litres of the liquid must have been aboard. Yet TBP, a fairly common industrial chemical which can also be employed to recycle uranium and plutonium from spent fuel rods in a process Mordechai Vanunu revealed is used in Israel, appears nowhere in LY1862’s freight documents.
The parliamentary inquiry is expected to concentrate on Israel’s refusal to provide full and timely information to the Dutch authorities, including the fact that the nature of 20,000kg of LY1862’s cargo has yet to be clarified.
No less important, the Dutch government’s own process of disclosure will also come under scrutiny. Prime Minister Wim Kok’s complaint about Israel’s lack of co-operation in the wake of the latest revelations notwithstanding, there is considerable evidence that his government (and particularly the ministry of transport) at various points held back, and subsequently failed to make known the significance of, technical and other information in its possession.
Allegations that government agencies, perhaps in collaboration with their Israeli counterparts, worked to conceal aspects of the affair may also be discussed.
It remains unclear whether the role of Schiphol airport as the key transit point for the “strategic military goods” routinely flown by El Al from New York to Tel Aviv will be critically assessed by the parliamentary inquiry. Had El Al transported its morbid cargo through rather than to Dutch territory (as may well have been the case with the second DMMP consignment), it would scarcely have raised an eyebrow.
For the same reason, the functional extraterritoriality enjoyed by El Al and Mossad at Schiphol, where the Dutch authorities as a rule ask no questions and monitor nothing concerning the activities of their Israeli guests, exempting them from national and international laws and regulations, is likely to be studiously ignored.
It is ironic that shortly after the LY1862 disaster, The Hague was chosen as the seat of the United Nations Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
No less ironic is the role of the US in this affair. It now appears that during precisely the same period that Washington has been using Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction as a pretext to prolong the economic siege of Iraq, it has itself been actively engaged in chemical weapons proliferation in the Middle East.
[Reprinted, slightly abridged, from Middle East International, October 16.]
– See more at: <http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/16232#sthash.2TAFSfwE.dpuf>
Israel Institute for Biological Research
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) is an Israeli government defense research institute specializing in biology, medicinal chemistry and environmental science. The institute’s work is a closely guarded secret. It is suspected of also developing biological and chemical weapons and defenses against them, as well as toxins for use by Israeli intelligence in assassinations.
It is located in Ness Ziona, 20 kilometers south of Tel Aviv.
IIBR has approximately 350 employees, 150 of whom are scientists.
IIBR is under the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister’s Office and works in close cooperation with government agencies. IIBR has many public projects on which it works in co-operations with international research organizations (governmental and non-governmental) and universities. Its research findings are often published in national and international scientific publications.
IIBR was founded in 1952 by Professor Ernst David Bergmann, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s science adviser and the head of R&D at the Ministry of Defense, and Dr. Alexander Keynan. Keynan was IIBR’s first director.
Some of the fields in which IIBR conducts research include:
- Medical diagnostic techniques
- Mechanisms of pathogenic diseases
- Vaccines and pharmaceuticals
- Protein and enzyme syenthesis and engineering
- Process biotechnology
- Air pollution risk assessment
- Environmental detectors and biosensors
IIBR also has a non-public scope of operation. Due to its secretive and defense-related nature, it is widely assumed that the institute develops vaccines and antidotes for chemical and biological warfare. Some sources speculate that the IIBR also develops offensive capabilities in these fields.
The IIBR also provides lethal toxin weapons for use in assassinations by the Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence service.
El Al Flight 1862, which crashed in the Netherlands in 1992, was carrying cargo destined for the Israel Institute for Biological Research which included 190 litres of dimethyl methylphosphonate, which could be used in the synthesis of Sarin nerve gas. The shipment was from a U.S. chemical plant under a U.S. Department of Commerce licence.
Dimethyl methylphosphonate is now a Chemical Weapons Convention schedule 2 chemical.
British intelligence writer Gordon Thomas wrote that the facility is surrounded by a high concrete wall topped with sensors, and armed guards patrol its perimeter. No aircraft are allowed to overfly the facility, and its location is not listed on any map of the area. Inside the facility, code words and visual identification control access to each area, and its numerous bombproof sliding doors can only be opened by swipe cards whose codes are changed every day. Corridors inside the facility are patrolled by guards. All employees and their families undergo intense health checks every month. In his history of the Mossad, Thomas wrote that over the years, at least six of the facility’s employees had died, but the causes of their deaths was kept secret by Israel’s strict military censorship regulations.
According to Thomas, many of the institute’s research and development laboratories are concealed deep underground, where biochemists and genetic scientists work to develop lethal toxins. In other laboratories reached through air locks, nerve agents are developed. Within the facility, there is a special department that creates poisons for use by the Mossad.
Life Science Research Israel
Life Science Research Israel (LSRI), a subsidiary of IIBR, is dedicated to the commercial exploitation of innovative technologies developed by IIBR. According to its 2000 annual report (in Hebrew), the 2000 budget was 16.6 million NIS (about US $4 million), with revenues of 12.9 million NIS (US $3 million).
Marcus Klingberg, IIBR’s deputy director, was arrested in 1983 and convicted of espionage for the Soviet Union. His arrest and sentencing was kept a secret for over a decade. Klingberg was released to house arrest for medical reasons in 1998 (and completely in 2003), but remains silent about his career or treason according to an agreement he signed before being released.
- Israel Institute for Biological Research <http://www.iibr.gov.il/> – official website: <http://www.iibr.gov.il/>
- Israel and Chemical/Biological Weapons: History, Deterrence, and Arms Control <http://www.bsos.umd.edu/pgsd/people/staffpubs/Avner-CBWart.pdf> – Avner Cohen: <http://www.bsos.umd.edu/pgsd/people/staffpubs/Avner-CBWart.pdf>
- Nes Ziyyona <http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/israel/cbw.htm> – GlobalSecurity.org: <http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/israel/cbw.htm>
- Israel Biological Facilities <http://www.nti.org/e_research/profiles/Israel/Biological/3649.html> – Nuclear Threat Initiative <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_Threat_Initiative>, information about IIBR’s founding: <http://www.nti.org/e_research/profiles/Israel/Biological/3649.html>
- Israeli WMD – Israel’s Weapons of Mass Destruction <http://communication.ucsd.edu/911/massdestruction.html>, ZNet <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZNet>, October 11, 2002: <http://communication.ucsd.edu/911/massdestruction.html>
- LSRI annual report, 2000 <http://www.gca.gov.il/reshut/heb/621.htm> (in Hebrew): <http://www.gca.gov.il/reshut/heb/621.htm>
UK Government let British company export nerve gas chemicals to Syria
UK accused of ‘breath-taking laxity’ over export licence for potassium fluoride and sodium fluoride
The Independent, MONDAY 02 SEPTEMBER 2013
The Government was accused of “breathtaking laxity” in its arms controls last night after it emerged that officials authorised the export to Syria of two chemicals capable of being used to make a nerve agent such as sarin a year ago.
The Business Secretary, Vince Cable, will today be asked by MPs to explain why a British company was granted export licences for the dual-use substances for six months in 2012 while Syria’s civil war was raging and concern was rife that the regime could use chemical weapons on its own people. The disclosure of the licences for potassium fluoride and sodium fluoride, which can both be used as precursor chemicals in the manufacture of nerve gas, came as the US Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States had evidence that sarin gas was used in last month’s atrocity in Damascus.
Mr Kerry announced that traces of the nerve agent, found in hair and blood samples taken from victims of the attack in the Syrian capital which claimed more than 1,400 lives, were part of a case being built by the Obama administration for military intervention as it launched a full-scale political offensive on Sunday to persuade a sceptical Congress to approve a military strike against Syria.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills insisted that although the licences were granted to an unnamed UK chemical company in January 2012, the substances were not sent to Syria before the permits were eventually revoked last July in response to tightened European Union sanctions.
In a previously unpublicised letter to MPs last year, Mr Cable acknowledged that his officials had authorised the export of an unspecified quantity of the chemicals in the knowledge that they were listed on an international schedule of chemical weapon precursors.
Downing Street insisted today that Britain’s system for approving arms exports to Syria is working even though licences for two chemicals capable of being used in making nerve gas were approved by the Government and blocked only by EU sanctions.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “You see the system working, with materials not exported. The facts are that the licences were revoked and the exports did not take place. The Prime Minister’s view is that that demonstrates that the system is working. There is a sanctions regime, which is a very active part.”
Critics of the Business Secretary, whose department said it had accepted assurances from the exporting company that the chemicals would be used in the manufacture of metal window frames and shower enclosures, said it appeared the substances had only stayed out of Syria by chance.
The shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna told The Independent: “It will be a relief that the chemicals concerned were never actually delivered. But, in light of the fact the Assad regime had already been violently oppressing internal dissent for many months by the beginning of 2012 and the intelligence now indicates use of chemical weapons on multiple occasions, a full explanation is needed as to why the export of these chemicals was approved in the first place.”
The Labour MP Thomas Docherty, a member of the Commons Arms Export Controls Committee, will today table parliamentary questions demanding to know why the licences were granted and to whom.
He said: “This would seem to be a case of breath-taking laxity – the Government has had a very lucky escape indeed that these chemicals were not sent to Syria.
“What was Mr Cable’s department doing authorising the sale of chemicals which by their own admission had a dual use as precursors for chemical weapons at a time when the Syria’s war was long under way?”
The licences for the two chemicals were granted on 17 and 18 January last year for “use in industrial processes” after being assessed by Department for Business officials to judge if “there was a clear risk that they might be used for internal repression or be diverted for such an end”, according to the letter sent by Mr Cable to the arms controls committee.
Mr Cable said: “The licences were granted because at the time there were no grounds for refusal.”
Although the export deal, first reported by The Sunday Mail in Scotland, was outlawed by the EU on 17 June last year in a package of sanctions against the regime of Bashar al-Assad, the licences were not revoked until 30 July. Chemical weapons experts said that although the two substances have a variety of uses such as the fluoridation of drinking water, sodium and potassium fluoride are also key to producing the chemical effect which makes a nerve agent such as sarin so toxic.
Western intelligence has long suspected the Syrian regime of using front companies to divert dual-use materials imported for industrial purposes into its weapons programmes. It is believed that chemical weapons including sarin have been used in the Syrian conflict on 14 occasions since 2012.
Mr Cable’s department last night insisted it was satisfied that the export licence was correctly granted. A spokesman said: “The UK Government operates one of the most rigorous arms export control regimes in the world.
“The exporter and recipient company demonstrated that the chemicals were for a legitimate civilian end-use – which was for metal finishing of aluminium profiles used in making aluminium showers and aluminium window frames.”