Monday, October 04, 2010

Norwegian UNIFIL workers helped Arab terrorists escape in 1992

A new book published in Norway details, for the first time, how Norwegian UN soldiers helped a pair of Lebanese terrorists to escape from Israeli-controlled territory. The book describes their illegal action in glowing, heroic terms:

Two escaped prisoners who had arrived in the Norwegian custody in southern Lebanon would not be left to their own fate, decided then Colonel Hagrup Haukland, chief of NORBATT, the Norwegian battalion in South Lebanon. That fate probably meant that they would again be taken prisoner, tortured and possibly killed in the Mossad-controlled Khiam prison in southern Lebanon.

Therefore, the two Lebanese fled in September 1992 dressed up in Norwegian uniform jackets and UN helmets, placed in a Norwegian armored vehicles and raced past Israeli soldiers and Lebanese militiamen who hunted them out of the Israeli occupied territory. It all happened in the deepest secrecy. Norwegian authorities did not know what had happened, and the management of the UN force in Lebanon, UNIFIL, was not informed before the operation had come so far that it had to be carried out.

The two Lebanese who had suffered through abuse and deplorable conditions in the Khiam prison told of her unique escape from the notorious prison at a press conference in the Lebanese capital of Beirut the next day, but they kept quiet about the help they had received from the Norwegian soldiers. That side of the story that has been kept secret by everyone who was involved for 18 years is now revealed in the NRK journalist Odd Karsten Tveit's new book "Goodbye Lebanon - Israel's first defeat." Tveit had received tips about the case, but until Haukland even gave the green light, he was kept quiet about what happened.

...The Norwegian soldiers put in place a bold plan to get the two escaped prisoners out of the area that was under Israeli occupation. Colonel Haukland wanted them away as quickly as possible, fearing that if the Israelis got wind that the Norwegians had come across the two Lebanese who were displaced, it could cause a very difficult situation. As Tveit writes in the book, Brigadier General Moshe Tamir appeared in the entrance to the camp (days later) and accused them directly, "You hid terrorists."

"They must escape, and quickly," said Haukland to his officers, according to the book. The Norwegian battalion commander was aware that if the smuggling was discovered, he would be sent home. It could also forcing Norway to withdraw from UNIFIL, which the Israelis had wanted for a long time.

The international UNIFIL management learned of the smuggling operation in the final phase - when Haukland and his men needed help to arrange the handover.

The Turkish political adviser who was contacted, first became irritated and felt the Norwegians should "turn your head, look the other way and let the prisoners take care of itselfthemselves."

- You Norwegians always have to be so good, he said, according to those who talked with him at the time.

But he also realized that the operation had gone too far and agreed to arrange the handover. The incident was never officially reported.
At the time, the two escapees " declined to talk about any guerrilla activity they had been engaged in before their capture." But they clearly didn't deny it.

(h/t Isak)