Venezuela's Chavez behind captured arms ship to Iran

Wednesday, January 20, 2010 |  Israel Today Staff

Israeli officials this week revealed that they have largely pieced together the circumstances surrounding the November capture of an illegal arms ship by Israeli commandos off the coast of Cyprus.

The German ship Francop (which was flying the flag of Antigua at the time of its capture) was found to be transporting a massive amount of missile and other heavy weaponry. At the time, Israel believed the shipment had been sent by Iran to Lebanon's Hizballah terrorist militia, which receives most of its funding and logistical support from Tehran.

But Israeli army officials told local media that there was another player involved - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Israel now is certain the Francop began its voyage in Venezuela with a shipment of arms destined for either Iran or Hizballah. The ship then docked briefly in Iran, before traveling through the Suez Canal up toward the coast of Lebanon.

Chavez is a very outspoken critic of Israel, and has openly embraced Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a fellow opponent of America and the Jewish state.

Earlier last year, it was reported that Chavez had begun to allow Hizballah to operate in Venezuela.

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