Hezbollah using Beirut Airport to store Iranian weapons cache, whistleblowers claim to Telegraph

Hezbollah is storing huge quantities of Iranian weapons, missiles, and explosives in Beirut’s main civilian airport, according to airport whistleblowers.

The cache allegedly includes Iranian-made Falaq unguided artillery rockets, Fateh-110 short-range missiles, road-mobile ballistic missiles and M-600 missiles with ranges of over 150 to 200 miles.

Also at the airport is the AT-14 Kornet, laser-guided anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM), huge quantities of Burkan short-range ballistic missile and explosive RDX, a toxic white powder also known as cyclonite or hexagon.

The disclosures will raise fears that the Rafic Hariri airport, just four miles from the city centre, could become a major military target.

One airport worker, speaking to The Telegraph on condition of anonymity, said: “This is extremely serious, mysterious large boxes arriving on direct flights from Iran are a sign that things got worse.

“When they started to come through the airport, my friends and I were scared because we knew that there was something strange going on.”

He raised fears that an attack on the airport or explosion there could cause significant damage, and compared a possible blast to the one that ripped through the port and damaged much of downtown Beirut in 2020.

“Beirut will be cut off from the world, not to mention the number of casualties and damage,” he warned. “It’s just a matter of time before a disaster also happens at the airport.”

Hezbollah has previously been accused of using the civilian airport for weapon storage in the past, but the whistleblower claimed it has escalated since the conflict began in October.

In November, “unusually big boxes” arrived on a direct flight from Iran. “This doesn’t happen often, but it did happen exactly when everyone in Lebanon was talking about the possibility of war,” the first worker added.

Another whistleblower claimed: “For years I have been watching Hezbollah operating at Beirut airport, but when they do it during a war, it turns the airport into a target.

“If they keep bringing in these goods I’m not allowed to check, I really believe I’ll die from the explosion or I’ll die from Israel bombing ‘the goods’. It’s not just us, it’s the ordinary people, the people coming in and out, going on holiday. If the airport is bombed, Lebanon is finished.”
Black smoke rise from between the houses of the northern Israeli border town of Metula, which hit by Hezbollah shelling

Hezbollah leaders have previously come under Western sanctions for smuggling through the airport.

Despite sanctions, staff at the airport claim Wafiq Safa, Hezbollah’s second in command and the head of its security apparatus, has become a notoriously inconspicuous figure at the airport.

“Wafiq Safa is always showing up at customs,” one whistleblower claimed, citing close relationships with the customs managers. “I feel like if we don’t do what they say, our families will be in danger.”

In a city that has been battered economically since 2019, the whistleblower claims workers collaborating with Hezbollah “walk around like peacocks” with new watches and smartphones, and drive new cars. “A lot of money [is] being passed under the table,” he added.

In a statement, the IDF said: “Hezbollah’s strategy to hide weapons and operate from civilian neighbourhoods stems from its intentions to draw the IDF to target these civilian areas in times of escalation.

“If Hezbollah were to target Israeli civilians from these sites, the IDF would have no choice but to react, potentially placing Lebanese civilians in harm’s way, causing international outrage toward the IDF.”

Ghassan Hasbani, the former deputy prime minister and an MP for the Lebanese Forces party, said Hezbollah’s control of the airport has long been a concern for Lebanon and more so now if it increasingly becomes a potential military target in the conflict with Israel.

He called for action to assess risks at the airport for fear of a repeat of the tragic port disaster of 2020. “It’s very difficult to know who can take action,” he said. “The last time the government tried to take action in 2008, there was a violent reaction by Hezbollah.

“The area all around the airport is controlled by Hezbollah so many people are concerned about passage through the airport of Beirut, which is why many Gulf countries have at times imposed bans on their citizens travelling there,” he said.

“Weapons being transported from Iran to Hezbollah across border entry points or even weapon components, endangers both the Lebanese population and the non Lebanese travelling through and living in the country.”

Taking action is all but impossible without international intervention to implement relevant UN resolutions, he said. “The entrenchment of Hezbollah is everywhere, not only in the airport but in the port, the judiciary, it’s across society.

“The public administration now is largely hijacked by Hezbollah and it’s very difficult to remove that without changing the militia-backed power game that exists today.”

A security source at a major an international aviation body told The Telegraph: “We have been aware of this for years, but we are unable to do anything without international legal action. We are hand tied to do what we’d really like, which is to close the airport and have all the weapons and explosives removed.”

For years, Israel has carried out attacks on Damascus and Aleppo airports in Syria where Iran transfers weapons from production facilities to its proxies in the region, including Hezbollah. Several of these have been on civilian flights.

In November, Damascus airport was forced to close after strikes saw all flights diverted.