IDF Spokesperson: On Tuesday (November 3, 2009) a special Israeli naval force detained and boarded the MV Francop, a merchant ship flying the flag of Antigua and destined for the Syrian port of Latakia.
Hidden among the dozens of other containers on board, and disguised as civilian goods, the ship contained a consignment of 36 shipping containers with 500 tons of arms en route via Syria to the Hizbullah terrorist organization in Lebanon. A total of about 9,000 mortar bombs of different types were seized, along with about 3,000 Katyusha artillery rockets, 3,000 recoilless gun shells, 20,000 grenades and over a half million rounds of small arms ammunition.
Iran routinely smuggles weapons to terrorist groups it supports. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards transfer their shipments over air, sea, and land routes, and do not hesitate to make use of civilian carriers, often without their knowledge.
An examination of the munitions seized proves conclusively that the source of the arms was Iran. This is clear both from the shipping documents and the markings on the munitions themselves.
All photos unless otherwise marked: IDF Spokesperson
I. Shipping Method and Documentation:
a. The ship's manifest, proving the cargo was being transported by the Iranian company IRISL (756 KB)
b. Labeling on some of the containers showing that the shipping company was based in Ispahan, Iran
c. IRISL (Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines) containers found on board the Francop (5.6 MB)
d. Ministry of Sepah (Iranian Armed Forces) customs labels attached to the cargo (4 MB)
e. Containers stuffed with sacks of polyethylene pellets used to conceal the munitions. According to the markings, the polyethylene was produced by Iran's National Petrochemical Company, whose telephone number was given as 9821 [98 is Iran's international dialing code] +8788987 (2.1 MB)
f. Further proof of Iranian attempts to conceal weapons: Rockets packed in cases marked "Parts of Bulldozer" (7 MB)
Among the arms seized, Israel discovered thousands of rounds of mortar bombs and artillery rockets manufactured by the Iranian defense industry:
These rockets are identical to those used by Iranian-armed Iraqi insurgents who, in July 2007, attacked the multi-national force's Forward Operating Base Hammer in Iraq's northern Besmaya Range complex.