Jewish World Review Sept. 3, 2003 / 6 Elul, 5763
The Latest Horrors: Still organized
Anyone who has worked
on terrorism for the past 20 years will recognize the murderous techniques
employed in the most-recent monster bombings at the Jordanian embassy,
the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, and the shrine of Ali in Najaf.
They all bear the imprint of Hezbollah's infamous chief of operations,
Imad Mughniyah, the same man who organized the terrible mass murders at
the U.S. Marine barracks and the American embassy in Beirut in the mid-1980s,
and also, in all probability, the bombing of the Jewish community center
in Buenos Aires a decade later. And this conviction is strengthened by
the news that Mughniyah who has changed his face, his fingerprints,
and his eye color, since he knows he's one of the most-hunted men on earth
has been in Iraq for several weeks.
There is great reluctance
in high quarters of Western governments to come to grips with the fact
that the Lebanese Hezbollah is engaged in such actions, because they have
convinced themselves that Hezbollah is primarily a social-welfare organization,
and that its military arm has not operated against Americans for nearly
two decades. They have not accepted the fact that there are many Hezbollahs,
one of which is now growing in Iraq, under the leadership of the young
Sheikh Muqtada al-Sadr, who was named chief of Iraqi Hezbollah by Iran's
strongman Mohammed Hashemi Rafsanjani several months ago. And, as luck
would have it, the young sheikh just happened to be absent from Friday
prayers at the shrine of Ali when the car bombs went off.
The terror network
is more complex, and far more united, than most of our analysts have been
willing to accept.
Prior to moving into
Iraq, Mughniyah had been closeted with his various allies in Tehran, where
he met with other members of the terror galaxy, including al Qaeda's Ayman
al-Zawahiri and Saad bin Laden (and most likely with his dad, Osama),
and also Abu Musaf Zarkawi, the Jordanian named by Secretary of State
Colin Powell as an example of the coordination between Saddam's regime
and al Qaeda. Zarkawi has also moved into Iraq in recent days, as has
the legendary Anis Naccache, who organized the assassination of former
Iranian President Shahpour Bakhtiar in the 1980s, and was graciously released
from prison by the affable government of France.
Many of our analysts
are currently falling into one of those linguistic traps that Ludwig Wittgenstein
used to warn us about. They constantly ask, "which organization do
these terrorists come from?" But they should be asking the empirical
question: "Does it still make sense to talk about separate terrorist
organizations?" I have been arguing for the better part of two years
that we should think of the terrorists as a group of mafia families that
have united around a single war plan. The divisions and distinctions of
the past no longer make sense; the terror mafias are working together,
and their missions are defined by the states that protect, arm, fund,
and assist them: Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.
The best mafia killers
are all operating in Iraq, from Mughniyah (constantly on the move) to
Naccache and Zarkawi (both in Baghdad as of the end of last week). They
are getting support from the three surviving terror masters in Damascus,
Tehran, and Riyadh, as well as increasing assistance from our old friend,
Libya's Muammar Qadaffi. In the last ten days of August, more than 3,000
terrorist operatives crossed from Iran to Iraq, despite recent Coalition
efforts to "seal the border." Some of them have been detected
by Iraqi security forces, who have found that the Iranians have co-opted
members of some of the organizations we have nominated to govern the country.
According to the London Times (August 28):
Members of two
leading Shia parties in Iraq's United States-appointed Governing Council
are helping to smuggle thousands of Iranians into Iraq in an illegal
trade that has opened the frontier to terrorists, border police say...SCIRI
and Islamic Dawa...set up floating border posts in the desert and were
providing guides to ferry pilgrims past official border controls to
reach the holy Shia cities...
A man described by
the Times as a "senior Iraqi former exile" grimly remarked
that "Iran is winning this war, not America" and asserted that
Iranian Shiites were working hand-in-glove with armed Sunni groups. And
a Mr. Dawoud (head of customs at Munthriya) agreed: "We didn't get
rid of Saddam just to give Iraq to these people....Nobody is stopping
them. Soon it will be too late."
Similar stories could
be told about Syria and Saudi Arabia, but Iran remains the lynchpin of
the terror network, and its leaders are engaged in a life-or-death struggle
with us in Iraq, knowing that if we succeed, they are doomed. Once upon
a time, the mullahs were known for their elegant cunning, but with the
passage of time they have become palpably more desperate and thus more
rigid. Nothing shows their desperation more clearly than the celebrated
murder of the Canadian/Iranian journalist, Zahra Kazemi. She had been
taking photographs of the demonstrations in Tehran in June, and was arrested
by the regime's thugs. They raped and beat her to death, and what passes
for the international community demanded justice. The mullahs responded
by organizing a quick funeral in Tabriz (forbidding her son to take his
mother's body back to Canada), and arresting two low-level functionaries.
But over the weekend, the charges were dropped, and a new investigation
Such Iranian promises
are as reliable as their recent undertaking to send al Qaeda terrorists
back to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayif bin Abd al-Aziz
al-Saud announced on August 30 that none of the Saudis detained in Iran
have been sent to Saudi Arabia. Needless to say, none of the al Qaeda
terrorists we have been asking for have been seen this side of the Caspian
Sea, nor will they until and unless the mullahs are removed from power.
Which leaves us with
the usual questions for the secretary of state and his henchmen who are
supposed to design an effective Iran policy: Why are you still negotiating
with this evil regime? How many Iranians, Iraqis, Americans, and Englishmen
have to be murdered by the mullahs before you accept the plain facts about
the Iranian regime, and commit this country to the liberation of the Iranian
people? Or do we have to await even greater catastrophes, and then have
to confront religious fanatics armed with atomic bombs?
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JWR contributor Michael Ledeen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of, most recently, ""The War Against the Terror Masters," Comment by clicking here.
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© 2001, Michael Ledeen