Thursday, September 30, 2010
What I Want In A Man!
by lyle e davis
History has a habit of getting buried deep within history books and sometimes the books get dusty from lack of use.
We aim to remedy that by bringing front and center some of the stories that may have been forgotten, or seldom told.
There’s lots to tell in recent history, stories of great endurance, of great bravery, ingenuity, and great reward, at least emotionally.
What follows are long hidden stories of what it was like to be a prisoner of war during WWII in the infamous Stalag Luft III. To some of you, Stalag Luft III may ring a bell. It should.
It was the POW camp upon which the movie, “The Great Escape,” was based. Here are the stories of some of the men who experienced life, if you could call it that, in this now famous camp.
Read, remember, and offer a salute to those brave souls who fought for our country. And you younger readers? Read, and learn!
"For you the war is over." That was the almost universal greeting to shot-down American airmen when they fell into the hands of the German enemy, a statement as far from the truth as any lie concocted by the Third Reich's propaganda machine. The war was not over for the new POW; it just became a different war, a war not without its own brutal casualties.
For the average World War II flier who ended up at Stalag Luft III -- the prison camp for downed airmen run by the Luftwaffe -- his last mission became the Longest Mission. Typically, his mission began before dawn at an airfield somewhere in England, North Africa, or Italy. It ended months or years later with the liberation of Stalag VIIA on April 29, 1945.
While at Stalag Luft III, his mission continued unabated, but not his role. He went from flier to prisoner of war in a matter of minutes. His new task was to contribute to the war effort as a Kriege, from the German term for prisoner of war, Kriegsgefangener.
"Stories My Father Never Told Me"
by Greg Hatton
The Berlin mission cost the 392nd Bomb Group, eight of eighteen crews. Of thirty-two officers flying on those crews, only seven survived combat. They were all sent to Stalag Luft III at Sagan, Germany. What a startling difference there was, between the final moments of the Ofenstein and Kamenitsa officers. The San Antone Rose took heavy damage during the initial fighter attack. Her pilot and co-pilot remained at the controls long enough to give the gunners time to get out. A burst of flak threw the aircraft into a flat spin; only the navigator, Dave Purner, narrowly escaped from the burning B-24. Although hampered by shrapnel wounds to his foot, he and Arthur Smith were able to evade capture for a short while. They were manhandled by an angry mob, before being turned over to the Luftwaffe. Purner entered kriegie life alone, shattered from the security of his crewmates.
That same burst of flak sealed the fate of aircraft #371, flown by Bill Kamenitsa and George Graham. The San Antone Rose was shoved up and over Kamenitsa's wing; as she fell earthward, she tore away ten feet of their starboard wing. The crew took a quick vote and decided to remain with the ship, confident in Graham and Kamenitsa's abilities. Graham had racked up hundred's of hours of flight time on sub-patrol. Bill Kamenitsa was at home in the cockpit of B-24's, B-17's and A-20's. Through the Grace of God, they brought #371 down with only the loss of the navigator, bombardier and radioman. The crew was captured as a group, somewhat shaken, but intact. After their stint at Dulag Luft, Kaminitsa and Graham moved on, together until the evacuation of Nuremberg.
They reached a sprawling camp, holding some 2000 Allied and 3000 American fliers. Opened in April of 1942, it was the hub of the prison system, with regular visits by Protecting Powers and Red Cross representatives. All mail was received at Luft 3 and censored before being sent on to other camps. The Germans, under the experienced command of Colonel von Lineiner, generally lived up to the provisions of the Geneva Convention. Their American opposites were led by Col. Delmar Spivey and the compounds were run by a Senior American Officer, with a seasoned staff. Each compound had its' own intelligence and security operations, mailroom, kitchen, dispensary, as well as lagar and room fuhrers. The continuity with regular military organization encouraged the Germans to let the prisoners handle their own affairs.
West Compound was opened on April 27, with Col. Darr Alkire (a bomber pilot with experience at Dulag Luft) in command. It was the largest and last built, with seventeen barracks, a cookhouse, theater, and showers. Each barracks had thirteen rooms with three tiers of bunks. With the population doubling between April and November, 250 guys were locked and shuttered up all night, in cold and drafty barracks. The whole day has been spent looking for something to do, to get your mind off the gnawing hunger. Guys around you are just as likely to be irritable and hostile, as they are to be generous or understanding. Nobody's had a bath, and digestive systems are in a collective state of disrepair; sleeping men are reliving the horrors of their missions and are restless beyond sleep.
MIS reports July 15 1944: The camp is situated in pine woods area at Sagan, 168 kilometers southeast of Berlin...Three of the camps' six compounds are occupied by Americans (3363 AF officers), three by RAF officers. Each compound is divided into fifteen buildings or blocks; Barracks are one story, wooden hutments, resembling old CCC barracks.
Lt. George Graham, 392 BG, co-pilot Kaminitsa crew, down 29 April 44
It was Tuesday when I got out of the cooler and it was Thursday when we left for Stalag Luft III. A group of enlisted men left on Wednesday, our crew among them, for their camp up on the Baltic Sea. We, about 100 of us, left about 4 PM on Thursday 5/4/44 in a prison car from the same town (Oberusel) which meant another chance for the populace to crane their necks at us again. We were provisioned with 1/3 of a Red-Cross parcel each.
Thursday night, all day Friday, and Friday night we were shuffled back and forth over Germany. Saturday morning, I arrived at Sagan, which is about l2O kms. southeast of Berlin. The camp was located a mile south of the town. We were searched again and had to take a shower. We were given a complete outfit while our own clothes were taken out for delousing. The new outfits consisted of a pair of pants (which had to be returned when our own were returned) 2 shirts, 2 undershorts, 2 undershirts, 3 pairs of socks, 1 face towel, 1 bath towel, toothbrush, razor, soap dish, comb and belt. We were assigned a room in one of the barracks.
When we first got to Luft III, they took us out into a field. There was lots of commotion and nobody could hear what was going on. When things settled down, the American Colonel in charge of the camp chewed us up one side and down the other: "You guys are in here because you screwed up! You must have done something wrong or you wouldn't be here!" The funny thing was, nobody said: "What are you doing here?"
I'II tell you one thing, though: He knew what he was talking about, because in December of 1944, he saw the handwriting on the wall. He put out an order that everybody in that compound would walk ten laps around the perimeter. We started out knee deep in snow and ice. You should have seen us the next morning at roll call. There were guys, literally crawling. They were aching ... they were hurting. They were using muscles they hadn't used in months. When they finally moved us in January, it was the only thing that saved us.
Kamy cooked for us for six months, and we shared the K.P. ... the dirty work. Later, we broke up into three man combines. We had fifteen men in a room and each of the 3-man combines cooked for a week. One guy cooked and the other two did the clean-up. Our room had five triple decker bunks and a little potbelly stove ... that's where we did our toasting. In the room next door, we had a charcoal-wood burning cook stove. That's where we made our regular meals.
There's more . . . much more, in this week's cover story. To read the rest of our cover story, as well as the Chuckles and our feature columns, go here:
This is an unbelievable act of contortion. It's really incredible.
Monday, September 27, 2010
2nd Hillbilly: 'Why is that stupid?'
1st Hillbilly: 'We ain't got no 'lectricity!'
2nd Hillbilly says: 'That's nothin'! My wife is so stupid, she bought one of them new Fangled warshin ' machines!'
1st Hillbilly: 'Why is that so stupid?'
2nd Hillbilly: ''Cause we ain't got no plummin'!'
1st and 2nd Hillbillies: 'Well, what's so dumb about that?'
3rd Hillbilly: 'She ain't got nuttin to put um on..'
This is terrible! What this girl put the Sheriff's Department and the community (not to mention the media) is unforgiveable!
----- Original Message -----From: Jeff SchwilkSent: Saturday, September 25, 2010 11:07 AMSubject: ALERT!! 3 Hispanic Males Kidnap, Rape 15 year old Girl walking home from school in Encinitas YesterdayHope they're not in TJ already. Sick bastards!
------ Forwarded Message
Date: Sat, 25 Sep 2010 16:59:47 +0000
Subject: Advisory Message: Kidnapping & Sexual Assault of 15 year old female
student walking home from school in Encinitas.
Advisory Message has been issued by the San Diego County Sheriff's
Saturday September 25, 2010 9:57 AM PDT
Kidnapping & Sexual Assault of 15 year old female student walking home from
school in Encinitas.
On 09-24-10, at about 4:10 PM, a 15 year old female student was kidnapped
and sexually assaulted near the 800 block of
Melba Road, in Encinitas, while walking home from school.
An older white four-door sedan pulled along side the victim.
A Hispanic male adult (Suspect #1) grabbed the victim from behind then
forced her into the back seat of the vehicle. The vehicle quickly sped off
with the victim still inside.
There were two additional suspects inside the vehicle. The suspects held the
victim in the car and sexually assaulted her while they drove through
several residential areas.
After about one hour, the suspects returned the victim to the school campus
and pushed her out of the vehicle.
Suspect #1 - Hispanic male adult, age 20-32, 6' tall, thin build, brown
eyes, thin mustache, light brown complexion,shaved head, tattoo on back of
head (possibly a "6" or "619"), wearing a black long sleeve shirt and blue
Suspect #2 - Hispanic male adult, age 20-32, 5' 8" - 5' 10" tall, light
brown eyes, medium build, dark brown complexion, short light brown hair,
some acne on face, protruding ears, small goatee, white t-shirt and blue
Suspect #3 (Driver) - Hispanic male adult, age 20-32, 5' 8" - 5'10" tall,
green/hazel eyes, medium build, dark brown complexion, short light brown
hair, mustache and goatee, dark blue t-shirt, possibly a scar on right side
Vehicle Description - Older white 4 door mid size sedan with a squared off
back, tinted rear windows.
Please contact the San Diego County Sheriff's Department with any
information at (858) 565-5200.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Happy Trails, Roy
The Roy Rogers Museum has closed its doors forever. Here is a partial listing of some of the items that were sold at auction:
Roy 'S 1964 Bonneville sold for $254,500, it was estimated to sell between 100 and 150 thousand dollars.
His script book from the Jan uary 14,1953 episode of This Is Your Life sold for $10,000 (EST. $800-$1,000)
A collection of signed baseballs (Pete Rose, Duke Snyder and other greats) sold for $3,750
A collection of signed bats (Yogi Berra, Enos Slaughter, Bob Feller, and others) sold for $2,750.
Trigger's saddle and bridle sold for $386,500 (EST. 100-150K)
One of many of Roy 'S shirts sold for $16,250 and one of his many cowboy hats sold for $17,500.
One set of boot spurs sold for $10,625. Although he never used a set of spurs on Trigger.
A life size shooting gallery sold for $27,500. This is really neat. You should see it.
Various chandeliers sold from $6,875 to $20,000. Very unique and artistic in their western style.
A signed photograph by Don Larsen taken during his perfect game in the world series against the Dodgers on Oct.8, 1953, along with a signed baseball to Roy from Don, sold for $2,500
Two fabulous limited edition BB guns in their original boxes with numerous photos of Roy, Dale, Gabby, and Pat sold for $3,750.
A collection of memorabilia from his shows entertaining the troops in Vietnam sold for $938. I never knew he was there. God bless him. His flight jacket sold for $7,500.
His set of dinner ware plates and silverware sold for $11,875. The Holy Bible they used at the dinner table every night sold for $8,750.
One of several of his guitars sold for $27,500.
Nellybelle (The Jeep) sold for $116,500.
A fabulous painting of Roy , Dale, Pat, Buttermilk, Trigger, and Bullet sold for $10,625. One of several sets of movie posters sold for $18,750.
A black and white photograph of Gene Autry with a touching inscription from Gene to Roy sold for $17,500.
A Republic Productions Poster (I'll explain later what this is if you don't know) bearing many autographs of the people that played in Roy 'S movies sold for $11,875.
Dale's horse, Buttermilk (whose history is very interesting) sold below the presale estimate for $25,000. (EST. 30-40K)
Bullet sold for $35,000 (EST. 10-15K). He was their real pet.
Dale's parade saddle, estimated to sell between 20-30K, sold for $104,500.
One of many pairs of Roy 'S boots sold for $21,250.
Trigger sold for $266,500.
Do you remember the 1938 movie The Adventures of Robinhood with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland? Well Olivia rode Trigger in that movie. Trigger was bred on a farm co-owned by Bing Crosby. Roy bought Trigger on a time payment plan for $2,500. Roy and Trigger made 188 movies together. Trigger even out did Bob Hope by winning an Oscar in the movie Son of Paleface in 1953.
In conclusion, I have to admit that this has made my eyes water. It is extremely sad to me to see this era lost forever. Despite the fact that Gene and Roy 'S movies, as well as those of other great characters, can be bought or rented for viewing, today's kids would rather spend their time playing video games. Today it takes a very special pair of parents to raise their kids with the right values and morals. These were the great heroes of our childhood, and they did teach us right from wrong, and how to have and show respect for each other and the animals that share this earth.
You and I were born at the right time. We were able to grow up with these great people even if we never met them. In their own way, they taught us patriotism and honor, we learned that lying and cheating were bad, and sex wasn't as important as love. We learned how to suffer through disappointment and failure and work through it. Our lives were drug free.
So it's good-bye to Roy and Dale, and Gene and Hoppy, The Lone Ranger and Tonto. Farewell to Sky King and Superman and Sgt. Friday. Best wishes and thanks to Capt.. Kangaroo, Mr. Rogers and Capt. Noah and all those people whose lives touched ours', and made them better.
NOTE FROM KATHY: I visited the Roy Rogers museum in Apple Valley CA when we were stationed at George AFB, but never got to visit the Gene Autry one and now they no longer exist.
It was a great ride through childhood.
"Our being is subject to all the chances of life.
There are so many things we are capable of,
that we could be or do. The possibilities are so
great that we never, any of us, are more than
one-fourth fulfilled." ~ Katherine Anne Porter ~
Saturday Morning On My Mind
Regarding Christine O'Donnell, who's running for the Senate in Delaware: I think it's kinda unfair to keep dredging up these clips from talk show appearances she made years ago as proof she's a looney. Then again, can anyone cite me one instance in recent years when anyone who opposed a candidate has had mud on that candidate and not flung it? If the most honorable person running for public office — whoever that is — had that kind of thing on their opponent, do you think the clip would not be up on YouTube? And yes, I know that speaking of the most honorable person running for public office is a little like discussing which of the Three Stooges had the highest intellect. (It was probably Joe Besser, the only one who quit...)
Not only are the clips of Ms. O'Donnell old but they're from shows where you had to be a little outrageous to get face time. If she'd advanced an intelligent, well-reasoned approach to issues like safe sex and birth control, she would never have gotten on some of those programs in the first place. She was, like so many folks who get on those programs, a bit of a freakish anomaly — a real cute woman who had all these weird ideas about sex. Conservatives love that because it puts an adorable face on their agenda. Liberals love it because it puts a naïve face on the Conservative agenda. Producers of both stripes love it because she's attractive and it's a way to get sex talk on their shows and not get criticized for it. Win/win/win.
So when she distances herself from the "witchcraft" clip, I say let it go. Voters in Minnesota didn't hold Jesse Ventura's wrestling past or Al Franken's worst Saturday Night Live bits against them. Dredging up Sarah Palin's beauty contest days or showing that clip of her in an exorcism...to me, that's almost like her opponents saying, "We can't make a good argument against the current person so we want you to vote against who she used to be." If they had footage of Ms. O'Donnell killing a man to watch him die or giving neck rubs to Bin Laden, that would be different. But this is like Ken Starr, under the cover of an "investigation," publishing every possible detail he could dig up about the size and shape of Bill Clinton's genitalia and where he put it. It's just trying to embarrass a political foe instead of dealing fairly with them.And it's all so unnecessary in Christine O'Donnell's case because there's plenty of current, relevant reasons why she should not be allowed anywhere near public office. The woman lives in a fantasy world where the planet isn't getting warmer, the poor don't exist and you can talk horny 16-year-old kids out of having sex. You don't have to dig into the vaults to portray her as a looney. Just get her to do three interviews with anyone who'll challenge her more than Sean Hannity...or point out that if she won't do that, it's because she's incapable of answering a real question.
The 100 MPH Goat
Two Tennessee rednecks are out hunting, and as they are walking along they come upon a huge hole in the ground. They approach it and are amazed by the size of it.
The first hunter says, "Wow, that's some hole; I can't even see the bottom. I wonder how deep it is."
The second hunter says," I don't know, let's throw something down and listen and see how long it takes to hit bottom."
The first hunter says, "There's this old automobile transmission here, give me a hand and we'll throw it in and see". So they pick it up and carry it over, and count one, and two and three, and throw it in the hole.
They are standing there listening and looking over the edge and they hear a rustling in the brush behind them. As they turn around they see a goat come crashing through the brush, run up to the hole and with no hesitation, jump in head first.
While they are standing there looking at each other, looking in the hole and trying to figure out what that was all about, an old farmer walks up. "Say there," says the farmer, "you fellers didn't happen to see my goat around here anywhere, did you?"
The first hunter says, " Funny you should ask, but we were just standing here a minute ago and a goat came running out of the bushes doin' about a hunert miles an hour and jumped headfirst into this hole here!"
The old farmer said, "That's impossible. I had him chained to a transmission!"
(I did some minor editing on this report to correct some spelling/punctuation slips. The article content remains unaltered. The core situation remains unchanged, evidently. An outcome resolution may pivot on therationality/irrationality of the Syrians. Pat)
Israel: Planning, Implementation of 2007 Bombing of Syrian Nuclear Reactor
Tel Aviv Ynetnews in English 26 Aug 2010
[Article by Mikha'el Bar-Zohar and Nisim Mish'al, authors of recently released book "Mosad - The Great Operations:"]
London, end of July 2007 -- A guest at a large Lexington hotel left his room in the evening, took the elevator down to the lobby, and stepped into a vehicle waiting for him outside. He was a senior Syrian official who arrived from Damascus a short while earlier and rushed to a meeting downtown.
The moment he left the hotel, two men rose from their seats at the corner of the lobby. They stepped into the elevator, reached the guest's room, and opened the door using keys. They searched the room professionally but did not need to work too hard. The Syrian's laptop was right on the desk. The two men installed a Trojan Horse - spyware that created a "backdoor" to the computer. Using this door, it became possible to monitor the computer remotely and copy all the material saved on it. Within minutes, the two men left the room.
The above story, and the information to follow, is based on both foreign and Israeli reports. The laptop provided Mossad with invaluable information, which for the first time exposed Syria's secret nuclear program. The findings were stunning: The blueprints of a nuclear reactor in the Dir al-Zur area; correspondence with North Korean officials; photographs showing the reactor covered with cement. The evidence was unequivocal. It complemented other information accumulated during 2006 and 2007 by Israel's top intelligence officials. According to this information, the Syrian government secretly built a nuclear reactor in the desert, near the Turkish border and roughly 100 miles from the Iraq border. Officials were surprised to discover that the reactor
was constructed with Iranian funding and with the help of North Korean
The "love affair" between Syria and North Korea started with the Korean prime minister's visit to Syria before the Gulf War, on then-President Hafez Assad's invitation. The two countries signed a military and technological cooperation agreement. Although the nuclear issue was brought up, Assad decided to put it aside and make do with developing chemical and biological weapons. During his father's funeral in June 2000, Bashar Assad met with members of the North Korean delegation. At that time, they started to secretly push forward the construction of the Syrian reactor. In July 2002, a three-way deal was finalized, with an Iranian representative pledging to finance the reactor's construction (roughly $2 billion.) As it turns out, for five years Israel's and America's intelligence agencies were in the dark.
Iranian General Tells All
During those years, some warning signs emerged, yet nobody took notice. The American intelligence community misinterpreted the information it received, while Mossad and Military Intelligence officials in Israel estimated that the Syrians have no interest in or ability to acquire nuclear weapons. Hence, nobody bothered to look for information that would shatter the "conception." The Syrians adopted another tactic meant to lull Israel and the US into a false sense of security: They enforced a complete communication moratorium on all employees and experts at the nuclear site. Cellular and satellite phones were banned, and all communication was undertaken via messengers. The activityat the site was not exposed even though American and Israeli satellites photographed it regularly. However, a subsequent dramatic development stunned both Israel and the US.
On February 7, 2007, Iranian General Ali Reza Askari, formerly a senior
Revolutionary Guard official and deputy defense minister, arrived in Damascus from Tehran. He stayed in the Syrian capital until he ensured his family was on its way out of Iran, before continuing to Turkey and disappearing in Istanbul. A month later, it turned out that Askari defected to the West in an operation planned by the US in conjunction with Israel. He was questioned in a US base in Europe - apparently in Germany - and revealed some of Tehran's and Damascus' deepest secrets. Askari exposed the three-way relationship involving Syria, North Korea, and Iran. He told his interrogators that Tehran was encouraging and funding the establishment of the Syrian nuclear reactor. He provided further details about the reactor's condition and about the Iranians assisting and advising the Syrians.
Agent Inside the Reactor
The information prompted Israel to go into operational alert. The Mossad
earmarked manpower and resources to verify the details provided by the Iranian general. Then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert convened Israel's security chiefs for a special meeting; during the session they agreed that Israel must act urgently to acquire credible proof of the reactor's existence. It was clear to all that Israel could not accept the prospect of Syria, its bitter, belligerent rival, turning into a nuclear power. Within a few months, Mossad and Military Intelligence chiefs were able to present the prime minister with the incriminating evidence he sought. Five months after Askari's defection, the search took its next turn: The material uncovered in the Syrian official's computer in London. Meanwhile, Mossad registered another success: It managed
to recruit one of the reactor's employees, who provided numerous photographs and a video shot inside the building gradually taking shape.
Israel made sure to update the US, in real-time, about all the material it
managed to acquire, including up-to-date satellite images and tapped
conversations between North Korea and Damascus. Israeli pressure also prompted the US utilize its own spy satellites. Soon, up-to-date material was accumulated including images elicited through America's advanced satellites and materials acquired via electronic means, showing that the Syrians were building the reactor rapidly.
In June 2007, P.M. Olmert traveled to Washington to present all the material gathered by Israel; at the conclusion of a lengthy discussion with President George W. Bush, Olmert informed the US president that he decided to strike the Syrian reactor. The Americans were still hesitant, however. Israel recommended a military strike, but the US refused. According to credible American sources, the White House eventually decided that "the US prefers not to strike." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
attempted to convince Israel to confront the Syrians, but not to attack.
In July 2007, Israel held aerial patrols above the reactor and elicited images of the activity at the site via satellite Ofek 7. The images were analyzed by American and Israeli experts, who ruled that Syria is building a nuclear reactor based on the North Korean model. In fact, the experts reached the conclusion that the reactors were identical. Meanwhile, Israel's intelligence-gathering Unit 8200 provided records of conversations between Syrian scientists and North Korea experts. This information was also handed over to Washington, but the Americans demanded unequivocal proof that the facility will be used as a nuclear reactor, and that nuclear materials are already at the site. Israel decided to supply this information as well.
Behind Enemy Lines
The "smoking gun" was found in August 2007. The clear-cut evidence was acquired by the elite Sayeret Matkal reconnaissance unit, which headed to the site under cover of darkness on board two helicopters. Nobody spotted the troops as they landed near Dir al-Zur. Using specialized equipment, they took several soil samples that contained radioactive materials. The findings were urgently relayed to US National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, who was stunned by the revelations. He quickly summoned top experts to draw conclusions and report to President Bush during their morning meeting.
Following the expert assessment, Hadley was convinced the matter at hand was serious. He held a lengthy discussion with Israel's Military Intelligence and Mossad chiefs, thereby reaching the conclusion that the reactor constitutes a substantive threat. The US was convinced that the reactor should be destroyed. According to the British Sunday Times, PM Olmert then convened Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni; the three leaders discussed the expected implications of a military strike in Syria with top security officials. After hours of deliberations, they decided to go ahead and wipe out the reactor. Olmert informed Opposition Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu of the decision.
The strike date was set for September 5, 2007. According to the Sunday Times, elite Air Force troops were deployed in the area on September 4 to mark the targets for the jets using laser. On September 5, 2007, at 11 P.M., 10 fighter jets left the Air Force base in Ramat-David and headed towards the Mediterranean. Thirty minutes later, three planes were ordered to turn back. The other seven F-15 jets were ordered to head to the Syrian-Turkish border. En route to the reactor, they bombed a radar station in order to thwart Syria's ability to identify the infiltration. A few minutes later, the jets reached the Dir al-Azur area: They fired Maverick missiles and dropped half-ton bombs at the nuclear facility, recording direct hits. Within minutes, a Syrian reactor that could have been used to produce bombs that would threaten Israel's existence was wiped out.
Officials in Israel feared a Syrian response. PM Olmert called Turkish PrimeMinister Erdogan and asked that the latter relay a message to President Assad, stressing that Israel was not seeking war. The next day, great confusion prevailed in Damascus. At first, the Syrians maintained complete silence. They reported the strike only at 3 P.M. According to the report, Israeli jets infiltrated Syrian airspace at 1 A.M.. "Our Air Force forced them to withdraw after they dropped ammunition over the desert; no injuries or damages were reported," the Syrians said.
In April, 2008, some seven months after the Syrian facility was hit, the US Administration announced that the bombed site was a nuclear reactor built with the help of North Korea and was not meant for peaceful purposes. American intelligence chiefs presented Congress members with photographs highlighting the Syrian facility's similarity to the North Korean reactor, as well as satellite images and sketches. Congress members also watched another fascinating video, which according to reports from Washington was filmed by aMossad agent inside the Syrian reactor. Israel managed to keep quiet for two weeks, refusing to admit it was behind the strike. But then came Netanyahu, who, as opposition leader, who in response to a question by TV anchor Haim Yavin said, "When the government does something for Israel's security - I support it.. And here I was a partner in this matter and I supported it from the very start." Olmert's aides were furious. "We are completely shocked by
this man, he is irresponsible and lacks discretion; this is the real Bibi!"
one aide said.
Assassination in Syria
On the evening of August 2, 2008, eleven months after the bombing of the reactor, a festive dinner was held on the terrace of a summer house in Rimal al-Zahabiya, north of the Syrian city of Tartous. The summer house was adjacent to the shore and had a magnificent view. The terrace overlooked the sea and served as a refuge from the summer's high humidity. The guests were close friends of the house's owner, General Mohammed Suleiman, who had traveled there for a weekend break.
Suleiman was President Assad's top aide on military and security matters. He was in charge of the reactor's construction and its security. Government circles in Damascus referred to him Assad's shadow. His office was located in the presidential palace, next to Assad's, and few knew him in Syria and abroad. While Suleiman's name was not mentioned in the media, Mossad and Western intelligence agencies knew him and his actions well. The 47-year-old Syrian was an engineering graduate of Damascus University. During his studies he befriended Basil Assad, then-President Hafez Assad's firstborn son and Bashar Assad's older brother. After Basil's death in a road accident, his father was sure to bring Suleiman close to himself and his heir. In 2000, Hafez Assad died and his son Bashar was elected president. With his rise to power, the young president made Suleiman his confidant and close advisor.
Suleiman played a unique role: He was a member of the Syrian research board, which dealt with the development of missiles, chemical and biological weapons and nuclear research and development. As part of his job, he was Syria's contact with North Korea. He coordinated the transfer of the reactor's parts to Syria and was in charge of security arrangements for the North Korean scientists and technicians involved in its construction. The reactor's bombing was a serious blow for Suleiman, but not a lethal one. After overcoming the initial shock, he began to plan the construction of an alternate reactor, for which a location had yet to be determined. Suleiman's new mission was much more complex and difficult than before, since he was now aware that he was on the Israeli and American intelligence agencies' radars.
Ahead of the next phase of his secret mission, Suleiman took a few days off and traveled to his summer home. A vacation and dinner with his friends was the best medicine for the pressure he was under. From his seat by the table he watched the waves lazily crawling up the shore. But what he didn't see, at a distance of some 150 meters (165 yards) from the terrace, was two figures waiting, motionless in the dark water. They reached this point from a far off distance in a ship that dropped them off some two 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from Suleiman's house. From there they dived until they neared his home. The two were professional snipers, possessing a wealth of experience and nerves of steel. They carried their weapons in water-proof covers. When they reached the shore they immediately spotted Suleiman's house. The information they received
from their country's intelligence agency was accurate. They identified the
building and the terrace, scanned the people seated at the table and focused on their target: The general sitting opposite them, among his guests.
Around 9 pm the snipers returned to test their aim and range. They watched Suleiman, sitting on a chair at the center of the table surrounded by his friends. It was crowded around the table, which forced the snipers to reset their focus and aim at the host's head. They continued to hide in the water. Then the signal was given. The two emerged from the water to the shore, moved closer to the house, aimed their rifles and shot Suleiman simultaneously. The hit was lethal. His head was first jolted back and then collapsed forward on the table. Those present did not understand what had happened, because they didn't hear a sound - the rifles were equipped with silencers. Only after they noticed the blood flowing from Suleiman's head did they realize he had been shot. A commotion broke out on the terrace, which enabled the snipers to flee
via a pre-planned escape route. The Sunday Times reported a slightly different version, saying the snipers were IDF Flotilla 13 commandos who arrived in Tartous on a luxury yacht belonging to an Israeli businessman, carried out their mission, and vanished.
Syria's official bodies were shocked. The government initially kept quiet and did not address the reports of an assassination. There was much embarrassment. How did the hit team make it to northern Syria? How did it flee the site? Was there no place left in Syria where the regime's heads could feel safe? Days after the incident a brief official statement was released saying, "Syria is holding an investigation to find those responsible for this crime." But Arab media extensively reported on the affair from day one and raised speculations about the identities of the perpetrators. Arab newspapers focused on elements that had an interest in assassinating the general, and were quick to point to Israel. They also claimed that Israel carried out the assassination because of Suleiman's involvement in the construction of the reactor Dir al-Zur. While
Arab media sang Suleiman's praises, Western intelligence agencies had a
completely different reaction to his death. In the capitals of the free world, no one shed a tear over the general's untimely passing.