After the Israeli Air Force depleted upwards of three-quarters of its rocket and mortar stockpile during Operation Protective Edge, Hamas may try to exploit mini-submarines like those used by drug cartels in South America in order to replenish its arsenal, Israel’s NRG News said this week.
“Are we likely to see the terrorist organizations in the region using submarines to smuggle arms, money or people? According to the recent discovery of a submarine smuggling cocaine in Guyana last month, it seems that this is a possible scenario,” tech correspondent Ami Rojkes-Dombe said Tuesday.
“The fact that they were building a self-propelled semi-submersible (SPSS) in Guyana means there are other manufacturing points in the Caribbean and now we have fleets of SPSSes,” according to Daurius Figueira, a sociology lecturer at the University of the West Indies, and the author of Cocaine Trafficking in The Caribbean & West Africa in the Era of The Mexican Cartels.
Speaking to the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian, Figueira said, “This indicates that the Caribbean island chain is now in the big time for cocaine smuggling and T&T has an important role to play—smuggling fuel to these vessels because Guyana has no fuel source. All the fuel in Guyana has to come from either Venezuela or Trinidad.”
While the fiberglass-hulled, diesel-powered subs are light and relatively low-signature to radar and sonar, the vessel discovered can move only about three tons of cocaine and was not made for deepwater operations or long cruise routes.
The 19.5 meter-long by 3.7 meters wide by 2 meters high vessel can only partially submerge, but that may be enough for fast, brief runs into Gaza from Lebanon, Egypt and elsewhere along the north African coast.
While the Israeli navy’s littoral force is modern and effective, the eastern Mediterranean is not an easy arena to prevent smuggling, particularly if the smuggling vessel is a small submarine leaving almost no identifying signature underwater.
The next question Rojkes-Dombe asks is: what connects South and Central American drug cartels and terrorist organizations in the Middle East?
He answers with one word: Iran. Over the last decade, Tehran has helped turn the area into a playground of terrorist activity, including Hezbollah and others. Links between Islamic terrorist groups and South American drug cartels should not come as a surprise to those who work in the defense of Israel, the author wrote.
There is no doubt, he says, that the thesis which holds that terrorist organizations will try to use these submarines to smuggle weapons into Gaza from Lebanon – a distance of 300-400 km, from Syria to Gaza – a distance of 400-500 km or even from Turkey to Gaza – a distance of 500 – 600 km – is not fiction. According to the FBI, this submarine has a range of 4600 km (2500 nm).
Is the Israeli navy ready? Rojkes-Dombe asks.