By Yossi Melman, Haaretz Correspondent Last update - 09:30 16/09/2007
Online databases tracking a ship reportedly flying a North Korean flag that docked in Syria have changed their records following a report in The Washington Post linking the alleged Israeli air strike in Syria to a North Korean shipment.
Ronen Solomon, who searches information in the public domain for companies, told Haaretz he found references to a ship called Al Hamad on three different Web sites after the initial reports of the Israeli raid in Syria on September 6. These included the official sites of Syria's Tartous Port and the Egyptian Transportation Ministry.
Two of the three sites said the ship was flying a North Korean flag, and the third site reported it was flying a South Korean flag.
Haaretz confirmed Solomon's report.
Saturday, the Washington Post published an article citing an American Mideast expert, who said a shipment that arrived in Syria three days before the alleged Israel Air Forces strike was labeled as cement, but that Israel believed it carried nuclear equipment.
Following the Washington Post report, Solomon returned to the three sites, and discovered that all mentions of the North Korean flag on Al Hamad had been deleted, and that the ship's flag was now registered as 'unknown.'
The official site of Syria's Tartous Port, www.tartousport.com, had reported that Al Hamad, flying a North Korean flag and carrying cement, entered the port on September 3. Solomon stressed that several North Korean ships docked at Tartous during August.
Syria said IAF planes entered its airspace on September 5.
According to the site, the ship had passed through Tripoli port in Lebanon, Solomon said.
He then found a site, www.e-ships.net, that said Al Hamad was registered as a 1,700-ton ship intended for general cargo and flying a North Korean flag. The ship had been built in 1965 and had had several owners, according to the site.
In addition, Solomon found on the Web site of Egypt's Transportation Ministry, www.MTS.gov.eg, a record that Al Hamad had docked in Damietta Port Said in the Nile Delta about a month earlier, on July 28. However, this site registered the ship as flying a South Korean flag.
Haaretz was able to access the Tartous Port Internet site until Saturday afternoon, after which it went offline for several hours.
Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA 16 September 2007
Following up on a report in today's Haaretz that identified the vessel Al Hamed as having visited the Syrian port of Tartous on 3 September, a search for the vessel using the cache option of Google finds that the same vessel also visited that port at the end of June and July also listing cement as the commodity it was carrying.
#1 First report:
up date at /1:30/o'clock
Ship-traffic at Tartous port on Sunday 8/7/2007
In the port there are /52/ vessels out of them
/22/ vessels are being operated and discharging and
/30/ ones arriving .
Arrived vessels (0) vessels ready for berthing:
ready for berthing not ready
#2 Second Report
waiting ships by date: Wednesday 2007-08-08
arrival date 2007-07-30
#3 Third report (using the translation option from Arabic to English)
Vessels arriving on Tuesday 2007-09-04
The type of goods Cement
Arrival date 2007-09-03
Port Tripoli / Lebanon
The name of the ship ALHAMED
IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis
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