Intelligence expert Peri Golan said Wednesday that Iran was behind a plot to kill IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi. Golan, the former head of the Arab Bureau at the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), made his remarks at a conference at the Netanya Academic College.
Hizbullah is subordinate to Iran, and is managed by Iranian leadership, Golan explained. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the recruitment of an Israeli-Arab man to track and kill Ashkenazi was carried out in coordination with Teheran.
Iran encourages Hizbullah's efforts to enlist Arab citizens of Israel as spies, he continued. These efforts have increased since the assassination of senior Hizbullah terrorist Imad Mughniyeh, whose death Hizbullah blamed on Israel.
The plot to kill Ashkenazi began at a “summer camp” in Morocco sponsored by the Israeli-Arab Balad party. At the camp, 23-year-old Israeli-Arab Rawi Saltuni met senior Hizbullah terrorist Salaman Harab, who successfully recruited him. Sultani, who belonged to Ashkenazi's gym, reported Ashkenazi's gym schedule and information on his security detail to Hizbullah.
Israeli security officials discovered the plot and tracked Sultani's moves for months. He was indicted on Monday for his role in the conspiracy.
Obama, West Don't Understand Radical Islam
Golan warned that United States President Barack Obama and other Western leaders are taking a mistaken approach to Iran and to Middle Eastern terrorist groups. “Obama and the West mistakenly think that they can compromise with radical Islam, represented by Iran and Al-Qaeda, among others,” he said.
Compromise cannot work, Golan said. The Iranian government, the Al-Qaeda leadership, and other groups guided by radical Islam “have an uncompromising ideology. They believe that they're acting on the will of G-d, and there is no compromising the will of G-d.”
Golan warned that the current generation of Muslims growing up in Europe and elsewhere is more strongly influenced by radical Islam than was the previous generation. Radical Muslim groups are more easily able to spread their ideology thanks to the Internet, he said.
Barak Right on Shalit
Golan also discussed statements made Tuesday by Defense Minister Ehud Barak regarding kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Barak told students who asked why Shalit had not been freed, “Don't whine, and don't lose your spine,” and said that while Israel is working to win Shalit's release, “we will not bring him back 'at any price.'”
Barak is correct in saying that Israel should not pay “any price” for Shalit's return, Golan said. “The price that Hamas is demanding is very high, and we must keep that in mind,” he said. Public pressure to free Shalit harms Israel's stance in negotiations, he added.
Golan expressed some optimism, saying that while Hamas has demanded much in exchange for Shalit's freedom, the organization is more willing to bend than it lets on. Despite statements to the contrary, Hamas is flexible regarding the number of terrorists and the specific terrorists that it would accept in exchange for Shalit, he said.