by Hugh Fitzgerald
We haven’t forgotten the oil spill in the Mediterranean, this past February, that led to hundreds of tons of tar (the thicker emulsion that results from the oil-and-water mix) coming ashore along almost all – 160 km. out of a total of 190 km. – of Israel’s coastline. The damage to marine life was extensive, to the beaches, horrific. Thick gobs of the tarry stuff, in places some four to five inches thick, along with many thousands of smaller blobs, covered the waters and the rocky shore, spread over the the beaches that for a very long time will be unfit for use. Thousands of volunteers have been working ever since, laboriously collecting the tarry globs. Sea turtles, marine birds and endangered marine mammals were some of the wildlife that have perished or have been affected by the spill.
Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry estimates that the oil spill occurred more than 50 km. off the coast of Israel, outside its territorial waters. Not only will the waters and rocky shores be arduously difficult to clean, but the oil spill event will also continue to corrupt the Mediterranean’s natural marine ecosystem for many years to come due to the widespread nature of the incident.
Israeli investigators immediately got to work trying to determine from what ship the oil had been spilled and whether the spill was deliberate or an accident. At first they had thought it might have been a Greek ship, the Minerva Helen, which years ago had caused a similar oil spill elsewhere in the Mediterranean. But after a surprise raid on the ship by Israeli and Greek investigators, it was determined that the Minerva Helen had nothing to do with the latest oil spill off the Israeli coast.
Now the Israelis believe they have the culprit. It’s a Libyan ship that was sailing from Iran, and the oil spill was no accident. A recent report is here.
A massive oil spill off Israel’s coast last month that severely polluted its beaches was “environmental terrorism” committed by a Libyan ship sailing from Iran, Israel’s environment minister said Wednesday.
Israeli public broadcaster Kan reported that Minister Gila Gamliel said that the ship was called the Emerald and had left Iran with its transponder off, and only turned it back on when it reached the Syrian coast.
Gamliel appeared certain that the spill was not an accident, saying, “There’s someone here who wanted to cause harm, definitely.”
She described the incident as “environmental terrorism.”
Gamliel added that the ship is two decades old and would not have been allowed to dock at US or European ports.
“The ship is now in Iran,” she said, and added that Israel “will demand compensation and sue for damages.”
However, an unnamed senior security official appeared to reject Gamliel’s claims, telling Kan, “There is no known Iranian involvement” with the ship.
No Iranian involvement with the ship? Gila Gamliel doesn’t agree, and her evidence is strong. The Libyan ship the Emerald, had apparently left from an Iranian port. Where was it headed? To the Mediterranean (its passage through the Suez Canal was recorded by Egyptian authorities), but not to any European port, because as Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel says, it would not be allowed to dock because of its age and poor condition. So where could it have been heading? There was no evidence of its returning to a Libyan port. And why had the Emerald turned off its transponder before leaving Iran and turning it on only once it was near Syria? Clearly it had something to hide.
The ship sailed from Bandar Abbas, down the Persian Gulf, into the Gulf of Oman, around Yemen to the Red Sea, and then up to the Suez Canal, where it would have to register with Egyptian officials, declaring its port of departure. And the Egyptians would have a record of when it went through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean. It then seems to have gone up into the Mediterranean, finding a spot some 50 km. off Israel’s coast, where any oil it spilled would be sure, because of what was known about the currents, the winds, and the tides, to end up not on Cypriot or Greek or Egyptian shores but right on the Israeli coastline, befouling its beaches and killing its marine and coastal wildlife. It was impossible to confine the damage solely to Israel. Some of the tar ended up on the beaches of southern Lebanon, but far less of the gooey substance came ashore, on a much smaller part of the country’s coastline, than it did in Israel. And as far as the Iranians were concerned, that harm to Lebanon was a small price to pay to ruin Israel’s beaches.
Environmental terrorism has been discussed by Muslim states and groups for many years. In 2012 Al Qaeda’s online magazine, Inspire, promoted environmental terrorism, offering detailed advice on how to start huge forest fires in America with timed explosives. We do not know if any of the massive forest fires in California were started by Muslim terrorists, but setting such fires was certainly widely discussed in terrorist circles. The “forest jihad” has been a continuous threat in Israel, where it is estimated that one-third of the country’s forest fires are the result of arson, an unusually large percentage.
Deliberately lighting forest fires in Europe, the US and Australia, would not only stretch emergency services, but would also leave insurance companies facing multi-billion dollar claims. Muslim terrorists, and especially Osama bin Laden, stressed the need to focus on causing colossal economic damage to the Infidel enemy. .The fires Jihadis set would also create a pollution disaster, with billions of tons of climate-change gases escaping into the atmosphere. The so-called “forest jihad” has been championed by Islamic terror strategists who believe setting fire to dry woodlands will produce maximum damage at minimum risk.
Already back in November 2007, radical Islamic forums spelled out the terrorists’ mindset in graphic terms. One of the Arabic web sites affiliated with Al Qaeda’s ideas, called “Al-Ikhlas Islamic Network,” posted a long and detailed message, in which it was argued that lighting fires is an effective form of action, justified in Islamic law. The posting instructed its audience to wage the “Forest Jihad” during the summer months, noting that “fires cause economic damage and pollution, tie up security agencies and can take months to extinguish.” Imagine, if after all the losses caused by such an event,” a jihadist organization were to claim responsibility for the forest fires,” the website says, “you can hardly begin to imagine the level of fear that would take hold of people in the United States, Europe, Russia and Australia.”
Another Al Qaeda affiliated website,”Al-Jazeeratalk.net” posted a similar message on December 27, 2007, where supporters were reminded, “not to forget the summer forest jihad”. It added: “This is an invitation to the Muslims of Europe and America, Australia and Russia to burn forests.” The message claims that the burning of trees, as a method of warfare, is permitted in Islam and it quoted from the Qur’an to support this claim. The “benefits” of the fires were to cause casualties, hit tourist income, create timber shortages for domestic, industrial use and pharmaceuticals, and stretch emergency services. And forests cannot be guarded the way that buildings can; a Jihadi can find suitable targets everywhere. Such attacks are virtually untraceable.
Another form of environmental terrorism is the poisoning of water supplies. There have been many attempts by Jihadis, but so far no mass poisoning. In May 2013, seven Muslim “chemical engineers” were found in the middle of the night trespassing at the Quabbin Reservoir, which supplies drinking water for Boston; they claimed they had simply wanted to satisfy their professional curiosity.In the middle of the night? They were ultimately released for lack of evidence; some suspect they were reconnoitering for a possible future poisoning of the Reservoir. In the same month, jihadists were caught in Canada who had planned to poison water and air supplies to murder up to 100,000 people. In October 2013 the FBI was investigating a possible water supply threat by Muslims in Wichita, Kansas. In January 2014, a Muslim broke into a water treatment plant in New Jersey. In 2015, five Muslims were charged with planning to poison the water supply in Pristina, Kosovo. In 2018 a Palestinian affiliated with the Islamic State was arrested for attempting to poison with ricin or anthrax the water supply in the Sardinian town of Macomer. These are a few of the examples we know about; how many others have occurred but not been publicly reported on, either because security officials do not want to alarm the public, or do not want to give other Muslims ideas, is impossible to calculate.
The oil spill off of Israel’s coast was a highly successful act of environmental terrorism. The Libyan ship left Iran, with its cargo of oil, travelled through the Suez Canal, where its passage was recorded – crucial to identifying the Emerald as the oil-spill culprit — and into the Mediterranean, where it stopped some 50 km. off the coast of Israel, and the crew dumped hundreds of tons of oil into the sea, which that same crew had calculated would be driven by the currents, the tides, and the winds, to pollute virtually the entire coastline of Israel. Now the Israelis claim they will sue Iran for the tens – possibly hundreds — of millions of dollars in damages. But even if they were to be successful in their suit, presumably at the World Court, there is no way to force Iran to pay; the victory would only be symbolic. The Iranians must be well-pleased.
First published in Jihad Watch.