Small World

Jewish World Review March 28, 2001 / 4 Nissan, 5761

Bush can't ignore Iran's terror outposts

By Richard Z. Chesnoff -- GEORGE W & Co. should take in one of those old Hollywood movies. You know, the kind where the hero declares: "Real Americans don't run from fights." The fight in mind is in the former Yugoslavia, where ethnic hatred has burst into predictable flame again — this time in Macedonia.

Bush campaigned on an election platform to get U.S. troops out of the Balkans. Secretary of State Powell has backed down from that election promise. But the U.S. is showing no inclination to prevent the new bloodletting from turning into a full-scale bloodbath.

We can't leave it up to the Europeans to quelch it; they failed miserably in the past. The world's only full- fledged superpower can't afford to stick its head in the sand. The stakes are just too high.

The bad guys this time are ethnic Albanians, the same people who were the victims when Serbia was squeezing Kosovo. Extremists have been demanding independence from what's left of Yugoslavia and have begun using terrorist attacks on Kosovo Serbs to get their way.

Recently, they ratcheted up the stakes with artillery pounding towns in nearby Macedonia, a former Yugoslav republic that's been hitherto free of violence. Now Macedonia has sent in its tank corps to flush out the rebels.

That's the bad news.

The worse news is that the troublemaking Albanian Muslim rebels in Kosovo and Macedonia are being financed and aided by one of the world's most sinister masterminds of terrorism: Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

According to senior Mideast intelligence sources, a high- level Iranian Revolutionary Guard officer, a sabotage expert code-named Al-Haj Ja'afari, has been secretly based in Kosovo for several months. According to the sources, Ja'afari runs a unit of 10 other Iranian operatives whose sole task is to coordinate and help direct the Kosovo rebels.

Interestingly enough, say the sources, Ja'afari was back in Tehran last month on a working visit three days after a bus was spectacularly blown up by remote control on the border between Kosovo and Serbia, causing the deaths of seven Serbs.

While in Tehran, Ja'afari updated the head of the Revolutionary Guard, Rahim Safavi, on the aid the Iranians have been giving the Albanians: weapons and military training as well as logistical and planning consultations.

When he returned to Kosovo, say the sources, Ja'afari carried $750,000 to buy electronic equipment that the rebels use to prepare sabotage demolition charges. The work reportedly is done at two underground labs constructed with Iranian technical assistance.

Commanders of the rebels also receive part of their training in the same Iranian camps used by the Revolutionary Guard to teach other fanatic terrorist groups such as the Lebanese-based Hezbollah guerrillas.

NATO-led peacekeepers are trying to block further infiltration into Macedonia. But NATO — including the United States — has made it clear it has no intention of using its forces to fight the insurgents. That job is being left up to the Macedonian Army, one of the weakest in the Balkans.

This is no time for NATO or the Bush administration to be waffling — especially if Iran's dirty hands are involved in the new violence. The Mad Mullahs of Tehran and their Revolutionary Guard have been making murderous mischief in Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Lebanon, Turkey and the Persian Gulf states, and now in Macedonia. They must be stopped in their tracks.

JWR contributor and veteran journalist Richard Z. Chesnoff is a senior correspondent at US News And World Report and a columnist at the NY Daily News. His latest book, recently updated, is Pack of Thieves: How Hitler & Europe Plundered the Jews and Committed the Greatest Theft in History.


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