Orchard Operation, Mossad Mission

Mossad has used virus to secretly steal data about Syrian nuclear reactor.

Israeli fighter jet

Ramat David Air Base, south of the port city, of Haifa, Israel, September 5, 2007. Ten pilot was ordered to prepare for emergency exercise with F-15 aircrafts are called “Raam”, means thunder in Hebrew language.

The order issued a few minutes prior to 11.00 pm was a routine. Then, the ten F-15 flew westward to Mediterranean Sea. Three of them were ordered to return home, while the remaining seven continued flying northeast toward the nearby Syrian border.

At that stage, the Orchard Operation had begun. It was a secret mission to destroy what believed by Israel as a nuclear reactor. The seven bomber aircrafts flew low altitude to prevent from Syrian radar. Within an additional flight minutes, they had reached the area around Deir el-Zor. After locking the Al-Kibar complex as their target, ammunitions dropped. Al-Kibar is located on a 25,000 square kilometers desert, about 30 kilometers from Deir el-Zor and 13o kilometers from the Iraqi border.

Israel has had long suspicion that Syria is developing their nuclear power. For the Zionist state, none of Arab countries as their enemies allowed to have mass destructive weapons. So, it’s not surprised if at a night in June 1981, some Israeli F-16 bombed Iraqi Osirak nuclear reactor near Baghdad.

Tel Aviv suspicion has increased after Mossad (Israeli foreign secret service) succeeded to secretly steal informations about the Al-Kibar reactor in late 2006. The incident took in London, UK, Mossad moved into a hotel room where a Syrian senior official stay in elite district of Kensington.

The official has been long monitored acted carelessly. He has forgotten to bring his laptop along with him when he went out. Thus, Mossad came in and installed “Trojan Horse” programme, a kind of computer virus to steal all data.

The informations have been gained are quiet worthy. It provides a reconstruction plan since 2002, letters, and hundreds of photos. One of them showing Chon Chibu, chief engineer of North Korea’s Yongbyon reactor, stands beside Ibrahim Usman, director of Syrian Nuclear Energy Commission.

Ali Reza Asgharie, an Iranian general who switched to the US has confirmed about the Syrian reactor. The project, he said, was helped by Iran and had cooperation with North Korea. The 63-year old man left his country in February 2007 because his life threatened after accusing several persons who close with President Mahmud Ahmadinejad corrupt.

Unlikely the Syrian official, for Ali reza his laptop is so valuable. “I brought my laptop. The entire of my life is in there,” said a former commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in Libanon in 1980s and became Iran’s vice defense minister in 1990s. He is like disappeared after changing his identity.

Mossad has also got information that Muhsin Farizadeh Mahabadi who is believed as a chief of  “111 Project” that making Iran’s nuclear bombs visited Damascus, Syria, in 2005. A year later, Ahmadinejad also came to Damascus and promised US$ 1 billion fund assistance Syrian nuclear project.

In August 2007, Major General Yaakov Amidror was summoned to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert residence in Gaza Street, Jerusalem. He reported about the existence of Al-Kibar reactor. Previous five months, this religious man is one of three Israeli senior officials was invited by Olmert to discuss about Syrian mass destruction weapons.

After a mission to take soil samples in Deir el-Zor early September, Olmert became more optimistic. The Orchard Operation counted down. He called, Stephen Hadley, then the US National Security advisor before the mission was taken because the target just dozens kilometer fom Turkey’s military base, a member of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The Orchard Operation was accomplished on September 6, 2007.

Nobody knows what really happen on the sleepy desert. A number of Deir el-Zor residents acknowledged that they have seen bright flash. Some said they have watched a giant smoke over the Euphrates River. The appearance before dawn has became rumours in tea houses along the river.

Israel and Syria have tried to hide the incident. After getting a report that target was destroyed, Israeli Prime Minister shortly contacted Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He explained about Israeli strike against Al-Kibar reactor and asked Erdogan to inform Syrian President Basyar Assad that Israel will not tolerate any Syrian nuclear reactor.

Olmert insisted that his side will not blow up the strike if Assad had done the same. “This incident never occurred,” said an Israeli military spokesman as quoted by Israeli public radio.

Assad said what was destroyed by Israeli fighter jets is a conventional military base. “We could have struck back. But should we really allow ourselves to be provoked into a war? Then we would have walked into an Israeli trap,” he said in exclusive interview with Der Spiegel in mid-January 2009.

Der Spiegel/Faisal Assegaf

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