Jewish World Review Feb. 2, 2004 / 10 Shevat, 5764

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly
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What the future holds | Most of us want to know the future. That's why astrology columns are so popular, and why so many of us still listen intently to the pundits who were so wrong about Iowa prognosticate about the New Hampshire primary and beyond.

But most of us expect the future to be pretty much like the present. We ought to know better. Sept. 11, 2001 changed a great many things. We may be in for another shock this year.

The Democrats want very much to defeat George W. Bush this year. So do the terrorists. They reason - rightly, I think - that their only hope of prevailing is if Bush is replaced by a Democrat. They are all but certain to try to do something big to influence the election.

The Baathist remnant in Iraq isn't in a position to do much, and al Qaida might not be, either. The audio tape purportedly by Osama bin Laden released on Jan. 4 is being interpreted by some in the intelligence community as a sign Saddam may have had enough.

On the tape, Osama bemoans the "pitch black misfortunes" brought about by America's defeat of Saddam. But he doesn't propose to remedy the situation by further attacks on the United States. Instead, he urges his followers to replace Arab governments he finds unsatisfactory.

"This audio tape may be Osama waving the white flag," speculated Jack Wheeler, who runs a geopolitical analysis service. "He knows that GW's number one goal is to kill him, and may be signaling that he will not be provoking Americans any more."

The danger comes from Iran. Since the overthrow of the Shah in 1979, the clerical dictatorship in Iran has been the most active state sponsor of terrorism. Iran was behind the bombings of the Marine barracks and the U.S. embassy in Lebanon in 1983, and the Khobar Towers barracks bombing in Saudi Arabia in 1996.

Iran may also have had a hand in the most devastating terror attack of all. The trial in Germany of a suspected Sept. 11 accomplice was delayed Jan. 21 when the government produced a surprise witness who claimed Iran had a hand in the hijackings.

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Hamid Reza Zakeri claims to have been a member of the Iranian intelligence service. He said 9/11 was a "joint venture" between al Qaida and the Iranian government.

Some German intelligence officers doubt Zakeri's story. But Kenneth Timmerman, a reporter for Insight magazine, has been able to corroborate physical details of Zakeri's story. And last year the Chicago Tribune reported that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a prominent al Qaida figure, has close ties to Iran.

About a third of Iraq's Shi'ia Muslims favor establishing an Iranian-style theocracy. Former CIA officer Constantine Menges said in the Washington Times Jan 27 Iran is assisting a radical cleric in plotting a coup - possibly in October - against the Iraqi government to which the United States hands power June 30.

Iranian-backed Hizbollah terrorists have been infiltrating into Iraq from Lebanon, said Menges and JWR's Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute.

"It is quite likely they are planning massive terrorist attacks on U.S. forces for the spring, summer and fall of 2004, as well as the taking of hostages," Menges said. "These hostages would likely be made available to the media with the intention of demonstrating the failure of Bush policy." Mansoor Ijaz, whose has ties to the Pakistani intelligence service, said Jan. 13 that up to 29 missiles with chemical warheads have been smuggled into Iraq from Iran.

Fortunately, the mad mullahs in Tehran have problems of their own. A deeply unpopular government became even more so after the devastating earthquake in Bam on Christmas Day.

A massive boycott is being organized for the parliamentary elections slated for Feb. 20 because the mullahs have prohibited 3,000 candidates from running for election, including 80 members of the outgoing Parliament. Things in the Middle East may be very much better or very much worse by November. But they are most unlikely to be the same as they are now.

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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan administration. Comment by clicking here.

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