While there's obvious concern about radical Islamists smuggling weapons into Syria as part of the fight against dictator Bashar al-Assad, an intelligence analysis agency says Iran may be funneling dangerous arms in the opposite direction.
A recent analysis from Stratfor cites the arrest of five Syrian arms and drug smugglers in Jordan last week. They carried anti-tank and surface-to-air missiles and assault rifles.
Jordan has been used as a supply route for arms meant for Syrian rebels. But Stratfor notes that the suspects were picked up heading south, away from Syria.
It cites unnamed sources who say the smugglers were trying to take weapons out of Syria and give them to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) in the West Bank.
The PFLP-GC has close ties to Syrian intelligence, and the report offers a theory that the secular terrorist group was working in service of the Islamists in Hamas.
Confusing the matter is a series of conflicting alliances over Syria. Shia Iran and its Lebanese terrorist proxy Hizballah are propping Assad up with weapons and troops. The Sunni Hamas, however, has sided with the rebels.
This has put a chill in relations among the parties, with Iran dramatically cutting its financial support for Hamas and Hamas moving its operations out of Syria.
But Stratfor theorizes that necessity is bringing the parties' interests back into alignment. The failure of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt has left Hamas isolated, and Iran "is trying to compensate for the sectarian challenges confronting its allies in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq by widening its militant proxy network wherever it can.
Part of this strategy involves building up a presence in the West Bank to threaten Israel. This strategy also falls in line with Hamas' interest in undermining Fatah," which rules the West Bank.
If correct, the development is troubling for Israel, which already faces rocket fire targeting civilians from Gaza and now from Sinai. The arms could be used to ambush Israeli soldiers.
Jordan already is on high alert for weapons smuggling, and observant officers intercepted the West Bank-bound cargo, so the terrorists will not have an easy time making their deliveries. But, Stratfor finds, these "quiet efforts are worth noting, particularly as Hamas and Iran are now finding reasons to repair their relationship after a period of strain."
Steven Emerson is executive director of The Investigative Project on Terrorism. Emerson was a correspondent for CNN and a senior editor at U.S. News and World Report. Read more reports from Steve Emerson — Click Here Now.
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