On January 7, 2002, Fox News aired an incisive, hard-hitting interview between correspondent Jennifer Griffin and Colonel Omar Akawi, the captain of the Karine-A—the weapons smuggling vessel raided by the Israelis. Under the no-nonsense questioning of Ms. Griffin, the captain admitted that he was an employee of the Palestinian Authority’s Transport Ministry, that he had received his orders from a senior member of the Palestinian Authority, and that the 50 tons of weapons were destined for the Palestinian Authority.
This interview directly refutes the many articles and commentary suggesting that the Palestinian Authority was not directly involved with the weapons shipment and/or that the weapons were not intended for the Palestinians
As the public and press weigh the Palestinian Authority’s denial of involvement versus the proof of PA involvement presented by the Israelis, it is important that the detailed confession of the ship’s own captain be included and considered.
The Fox News website article and the list of weapons appear below:
From Fox News website (www.foxnews.com)
January 7, 2002
JERUSALEM – The 50 tons of missiles, mortars and mines aboard a weapons-laden ship seized by Israel on Thursday were destined to wind up in Palestinian hands, the ship’s captain has told Fox News.
In an exclusive jailhouse interview Monday, Col. Omar Akawi said the arms shipment he was transporting across the Red Sea was arranged by the militant Lebanese group Hizballah, and that he took his orders to deliver from a senior member of Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority.
Asked whether Arafat knew about the operation, Akawi shrugged his shoulders. “I know that [the weapons] have to go to Palestine,” he said. “This is for the Palestinians.”
Akawi’s statement reinforces the accusations of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who on Sunday stood before row upon row of seized weapons and accused Arafat of plotting “the next wave of terror.” Sharon said Arafat was directly involved in the $100 million arms shipment, accusing him of personally ordering the weapons from Iran and a ship from Lebanon to carry them.
The Palestinian leadership has denied any connection to the Iranian-made weapons or the ship. In a statement Sunday, the Palestinian leadership said it “condemns this operation and condemns the Israeli attempt to accuse the Palestinian Authority of being involved in this.”
Akawi, 44, who was captured with his 12 crew members, told Fox News that he was an adviser for naval affairs in the Palestinian Authority’s Transport Ministry and has been a member of Arafat’s Fatah movement since 1976.
He said the smuggling operation was overseen by a Palestinian Authority official he identified as Adel Awadallah.
Akawi said that after Arafat’s renewed call for a truce with Israel on Dec. 16, he expected his handlers to abort the mission. “That’s when I was midway. I expected to receive an order to stop it,” Akawi said. However, the captain said he was told by Awadallah to proceed.
During his tour of the boat on Sunday, Sharon was joined by senior Israeli security officials for a nationally televised event that emphasized the importance the government has placed on the weapons cache, laid out in neat rows at a naval yard in the Red Sea port of Eilat.
There were machine guns, mines, mortars, Katyusha rockets, grenades, AK-47 assault rifles and more than a half-million rounds of ammunition for various guns, all of which Israel says were on their way from Iran to the Gaza Strip.
Israeli commandoes stormed the Karine A Thursday in the Red Sea about 300 miles south of Eilat. While the pre-dawn raid occurred in international waters, no one has claimed ownership of the boat or its weapons.
Israel said most of the seized weapons were made in Iran and would have significantly boosted Palestinian firepower. Israel’s Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said the shipment was worth $100 million.
“The Palestinian Authority has been focusing all its efforts on terrorism and preparing the operational infrastructure for the next wave of terror,” Sharon said.
A U.S. official in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was possible the weapons were headed for Hizballah or Hamas, the extremist Palestinian movement.
A Hizballah official in Beirut, Lebanon, denied any member of the guerrilla group was on board the ship. He declined to say whether any of the weapons were intended for the movement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
*** From IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis):
Weapons Seized on Karin A
Date: 7 January 2002
IMRA received the following list from the IDF Spokesperson’s Office:
(1) 122mm rockets & Launchers (Russian): 4 launchers & 62 rockets [Range 20km, warhead weight: 18.3kg, H.E.: 6.4 kg]
(2) 107mm rockets & Launchers: 6 launchers & 283 rockets [Range 8.5km, warhead weight: 6.4kg, H.E.: 1.3 kg]
(3) 120mm Mortars & Bombs: 10 mortars & 700 bombs [Range 6km, H.E.: 2.5 kg]
(4) 81mm Mortars & Bombs: 19 mortars & 686 bombs [Range 5.3km, H.E.: 550gr]
(5) 60mm Mortars & Bombs: 10 mortars & 159 bombs [Range 1.7km, H.E.: 250gr]
(1) Sagger Launchers and Missiles: 6 Launchers & 10 Missiles [Range: 3.5km, Penetration: 450mm]
(2) RPG-7 Rockets (Iranian): 119 Rockets – PG-7 Tandem Warhead [Range: 300m, Effective against reactive armor]
(3) RPG-7 Rockets (Iranian): 209 Rockets – PG-7 “NADER” [Range: 400m, Penetration: 300mm]
(4) RPG-7 Launchers: 51 Launchers
(5) RPG-18 light anti-armor weapons: 346 [Range: 400m, Penetration: 300mm]
Mines and Explosives
(1) YM-III Iranian Anti Tank Mines: 211 Mines [H.E. 5.5kg]
(2) YM-I Iranian Anti Personnel Mines: 311 Mines [H.E. 50gr]
(3) Explosive Blocks: 2,200 kgs.
TNT & C4 Explosive Blocks Light Weapons
(1) “Dragunov” – 7.62mm Sniper Rifles with telescopic sights: 30 [Effective range: 1000m]
(2) PK 7.62mm Light Machine Guns: 18
(3) AK-47 Assault Rifles: 212
(4) 7.62mm Light Weapon Rounds: 7.62 x 39: 407,800 rounds 7.62 x 54: 291,400 rounds [Kalashnikov cartridges, Dragunov and PK machine gun cartridges]
(5) Hand Grenades: 735
(1) Rubber boats with 25 hp external engines: 2
(2) Diving equipment
(3) Sophisticated canisters for underwater smuggling: 80
* All of the artillery weapons came with aiming devices and poles.
* All the artillery rockets have contact fuses
* In addition, there is a large quantity of both electric and regular detonators.