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Sunday 09 March 2008
The Sunday Times
Palestinian group Hamas admits that its fighters are trained in Iran
THE Palestinian group Hamas, blamed for last week’s massacre of eight students at a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem, has revealed that hundreds of its fighters have been trained in Iran.
A senior commander interviewed by The Sunday Times said 300 of the group’s “best brains” had been secretly sent to Tehran.
Half are still being trained by Revolutionary Guards. They are learning how to make explosives from everyday items and produce deadlier rockets.
The rest have already returned from a Revolutionary Guard base in Tehran. Some have been trained as snipers. Others have learnt to use tunnels in attacks on Israeli forces.
“Iran is our mother,” the commander said. “She gives us information, military supplies and financial support.”
Seven separate groups of Hamas militants have spent up to six months in Tehran since the training began in 2005.
The scale of Iran’s operation exceeds Israeli intelligence suspicions that Hamas had dispatched “tens” of fighters to Tehran. Yuval Diskin, the head of Shin Bet, the Israeli internal security service, said last week: “I see this as the strategic danger, more than any weapons smuggled into Gaza.”
Israeli officials believe that Iran is waging a “proxy war” against their country on two fronts � through Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon. The Hamas commander said Iranian-trained instructors had also taught more than 700 fighters at a base in Syria.