Hamas may have perpetrated the Oct. 7 mass rape of and pogrom against Israeli Jews, but it did not act alone. Most of its enablers are well known: Iran helps train and arm the group. Qatar finances it. Turkey provides explosives and passports to facilitate operative movement, and its intelligence services protect Hamas terrorists abroad. Malaysia was reportedly a venue for Hamas paragliders to train and now offers safe haven to Hamas fugitives. The European Union and perhaps even the U.S. Agency for International Development allow Hamas to divert donations.
Too often, attention to North Korea's role and responsibility is lacking. Geographic divisions within the State Department, Pentagon, and CIA contribute to analytical blindness, as do frequent rotations. Institutional memory lacks.
The notion that extremists would stand aloof from anti-Israel terrorism is naive. Long before intersectionality demanded blind solidarity between self-described oppressed groups on university campuses, terrorists practiced intersectionality on the global stage. This is why, just over 50 years ago, the Japanese Red Army attacked tourists at Ben Gurion Airport, killing more than two dozen and wounding 80.
In 2006, Hezbollah crossed Lebanon's United Nations-demarcated border to kidnap Israeli soldiers. The crisis quickly escalated into a 34-day war during which Israeli special forces and airstrikes sought to neutralize Hezbollah missiles stored in underground tunnels. They were only partly successful. While Israeli intelligence located many tunnels using satellite imagery, only when hostilities began did they discover many were decoys: North Korean engineers had secretly built tunnels undetected by overhead surveillance in which Hezbollah could store its long-range missiles while leaving false entrances replete with piles of dirt and bulldozers to divert action.
That North Korea would work with Hezbollah should not surprise. Hezbollah is an Iranian proxy. Tehran and Pyongyang have coordinated closely on both ballistic missiles and nuclear technology. Any North Korean assistance to Hezbollah would simply be an extension of its alliance with Iran.
It was this activity that made Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's 2008 decision to delist North Korea from its State Sponsor of Terrorism designation so controversial. Rice wanted to reset the Bush administration's foreign policy legacy by shifting attention away from its Middle Eastern failures. Reality is not so easily spun, however. North Korea subsequently regained its terrorist sponsorship, and deservedly so.
When Hamas rampaged through parts of southern Israel on Oct. 7, it reportedly did so with North Korean weapons. Israel subsequently discovered a nearly 300-mile tunnel network, far more extensive than it had previously realized. The question then becomes whether Hamas dug its elaborate tunnels itself or if it had North Korean engineering. Likewise, the origin of the North Korean weaponry is unclear. In 2016, the U.S. Navy intercepted a North Korean ship carrying tons of weaponry purchased covertly by the Egyptian government. Loose Libyan weaponry also includes guns and ammunition of North Korean origin.
When Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el Sisi flooded Hamas tunnels with sewage, he kept at least two untouched. Certainly, Egypt holds Hamas with disdain, but by limiting tunnels, it could also control and tax Hamas trade rather than eliminate it. Simultaneously, there are more direct means to supply Hamas illicitly. Prior to the 2007 Hamas coup, the Palestinian Authority arranged for Iranian frigates to dump weaponry overboard in sealed containers that Palestinian fishermen would then recover. North Korean or, more likely, Iranian frigates transporting North Korean weaponry might have done the same.
Two decades ago, pundits pilloried President George W. Bush when he spoke of an "Axis of Evil." Then, as now, they substituted condescension, volume, and ignorance for consideration of fact. Terrorists are intersectional. It is time to investigate any North Korean component of Hamas terrorism.
Michael Rubin is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is director of policy analysis at the Middle East Forum and senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.