Jewish World Review Jan. 27, 2004 / 4 Shevat, 5764
The Jihad on Iraq: Bad analysis and bad policy
In the months leading up to the liberation of Iraq, I wrote that our great national debate was on the wrong subject,
because we were obsessively focused on Iraq alone, rather than on the group of countries that sponsored
terrorism. I warned that Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Syria were plotting with Saddam Hussein to organize a
combination of terrorist actions and political uprisings to drive us out of Iraq and Afghanistan. And I insisted that
Iran was the keystone of the terror network as the State Department had documented for many years and
was therefore the logical first target in our response to the Axis of Evil.
We are still engaged in that misleading debate. We are still focused on Iraq alone, although
the president continues to say that the war involves a group of countries that support a
network of terror organizations.
Bad analysis leads inevitably to bad policy, and our narrow focus on Iraq costs lives.
Widespread terrorism and political demonstrations are not organized solely, or even
primarily, by the shattered remnants of Saddam's Baathist regime, nor by the splintered
pieces of al Qaeda. The war against us in Iraq and Afghanistan is an existential struggle
guided, funded, and armed by tyrannical regimes in Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia, because
they are convinced rightly enough that if we succeed, they are doomed to fall in a
regional democratic revolution. Their plan, modeled on the strategy that drove us out of
Lebanon in the 1980s, was prepared long before we attacked.
They made no secret of their intentions. Prior to the liberation, Syrian President Bashar
Assad publicly called for a "Lebanon strategy," and in August, the head of Hezbollah, Sheikh
Hassan Nasrallah, called for the entire Muslim world to join in a jihad against Americans in
Iraq. Throughout, Iranian leaders and Saudi clerics have denounced the American actions in
Iraq and joined the call for jihad.
The cooperative strategy evidently included the secret transfer of Iraqi weapons of mass
destruction to neighboring countries. According to a recent statement by Nizar Nayouf, a
brave Syrian journalist who was arrested and tortured for a decade after criticizing Hafez al
Assad's brutalities, Iraqi WMDs were hidden in three primary locations in Syria. He has
provided maps of the secret locations, which he says came from dissident elements at high levels of the Syrian
military and intelligence services. (He has also claimed that billions of dollars from Saddam's personal stash were
smuggled into Syrian and Lebanese banks, and these claims have been substantially verified). And last October,
the CIA was indirectly approached by a man who claimed to have carried a quantity of enriched uranium from
Iraq to Iran four years ago. He offered to take American inspectors to the secret underground laboratory from
which the uranium was taken, but the CIA declined the offer. Someone might ask David Kay why, after initial
enthusiasm, he changed his mind and decided not to look.
Shortly after the dreadful earthquake in Bam, Iran, the Syrians pretended to deliver emergency aid, but actually
loaded their transport planes with Iranian money and weapons for Hezbollah, to be used against us in Iraq and
against Israel from bases in Syrian-occupied south Lebanon. And earlier this month, evidence was presented in an
Israeli court that showed that the Iranian regime routinely transfers large sums of money through puppet
organizations into Syrian and Palestinian banks. The money is then rerouted to Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and other
terror groups. Another case of Iranian money moving through Hezbollah and the Palestinian Authority to terror
groups was announced on January 15 by Israeli security officials in Nablus, where three brothers involved in the
scheme had recently been arrested.
Last November, Saddam's top missile expert, Modhr Sadeq-Saba, ran from Iraq to Iran, which is actively
pursuing the development of nuclear weapons and intermediate-range delivery systems. And American officials on
the ground in Iraq have seen abundant evidence of Iranian support for terrorist operations. The Associated Press
reported on January 19 that "U.S. soldiers found a homemade bomb that they believe was left inside an unfinished
house by a group of Iranians in Samarra." When Mujahid Ghul, the top al Qaeda thug in Iraq, was arrested last
Friday, it was further confirmation of Iran's role. Ghul reported directly to Zarkawi, who has long operated out of
Tehran (abundant evidence of which has been publicly presented in both German and Italian court proceedings
against other members of Zarkawi's gang).
Meanwhile, the menace to the free world grows. Saudi Arabia is reportedly seeking nuclear weapons, and the AP
tells us (January 20) that "Iran has reneged on a promise to fully suspend uranium enrichment."
In short, while Iraq is the current battlefield, the real war extends far beyond its borders, and we will remain under
attack in Iraq so long as the tyrannical regimes in Damascus, Riyadh, and Tehran are left free to kill us and the
embattled Iraqis. There is more at stake than human casualties, for it is unreasonable to expect Iraqi Shiite leaders
to fully cooperate with Coalition forces until and unless they see that we are fighting the jihadists and protecting
Iraqis from them. If you were the Ayatollah Sistani, and saw that the Iranians had arranged for the murder of two
of your most distinguished colleagues (Ayatollahs Khoi and Hakim), would you not cater to Iranian desires in the
political debates in Baghdad, especially if the Iranians promised (as I have been told) millions of dollars for your
religious community? If you saw thousands of Iranian-sponsored operatives all over your country, and listened to
more than a dozen Iranian-operated radio and television stations in Iraq, while the Americans had yet to provide a
single effective channel for the country, would you not take out insurance and call for a quick transfer of
sovereignty to Iraqis? Jerry Bremer is a very convincing man, but he is leaving in a few months, and Sistani and the
others will have to deal with murderous mullahs and ambitious Syrian Baathists next door.
The terror masters do not limit their jihad to Iraq. Late last month, the Iranian newspaper Jomhuri-ye Eslami
published an open call to the Egyptian people to assassinate President Hosni Mubarak, whom the paper which
speaks for "Supreme Leader" Ali Khamenei called "the butcher of Cairo." Turkish authorities captured one of
the organizers of the suicide bombings in Istanbul last December as he was trying to cross the border into Iran, and
it is now generally acknowledged that top al Qaeda figures, including bin Laden, Zawahiri, and the usual Zarkawi,
have long stayed in and operated from Iranian territory.
In his State of the Union address, President Bush promised to relentlessly pursue the war against terror. He has
proven to be a man of his word, and the Saudis, Syrians, and Iranians are no doubt praying for his defeat in
November. This suspicion was reinforced over the weekend in Davos, where Senator Joe Biden was granted a
conversation with the Iranian foreign minister, while Senator Elizabeth Dole had earlier been told to stay out of
Iran, even though she was carrying medicine and food for earthquake victims and Biden had received tens of
thousands of dollars from a pro-Iranian lobby. They are happy to talk to a Democrat, but locked out a
The mullahs know their best chance for survival is to defeat us in Iraq before we vigorously support their own
people against them. Both our national interest and our national values demand that we give that support
political support, not further military action now, before Iraq gets much worse.
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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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12/02/03: Managing Iraq: We can't continue this way
11/26/03: Back to the Angleton Files
11/25/03: The Turks, Italians & us never again
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11/04/03: Unpunished Failure: What are we waiting for?
10/21/03: Curses: Diamonds and Naples
10/15/03: Into the Quagmire: Important days ahead for Iran
09/18/03: The Ayatollahs’ bomb: An invulnerability strategy
09/12/03: You can't make peace until the war is won
09/11/03: Ron Paul, dishonorable congressman
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08/29/03: The Peace Trap: Back to the war, please
08/27/03: Angrier and Angrier: Self-deception, big-time
08/25/03: Iraq's terrorists have friends in high places
07/10/03: The Future of Iran: Armitage might want to rethink that "democracy" line
07/02/03: Looking Toward July 9: Independence Day in Iran?
06/24/03: Iran: Back the freedom fighters
06/17/03: The Iranian Revolution, 2003: Regime change in the air
06/05/03: Academic Standards: A Middle East scholar has his way with the truth.
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05/13/03: The Nuclear Axis of Evil: The people solution
05/08/03: Inside the Dark: Applebaum's Gulag
05/06/03: Tough Guy: Powell's curious priority list
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04/15/03: Political war can remove terror masters in Syria and Iran
04/07/03: The Others: We have miles to go in eliminating the Axis
04/02/03: French Lies: Take the foreign minister at his word
03/31/03: Why muzzle Saddam's foes?
03/28/03: The post-war terror threat
03/26/03: All Fronts: Military war, political war, psychological war
03/24/03: More Bad News for Daschle: Taking out terror of all nationalities
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03/13/03: Iran: Nuclear suicide bombers?
03/11/03: A Theory: What if there's method to the Franco-German madness?
03/05/03: The Iranian-Election Revolt: The people speak. The West won't listen
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01/13/03: How we could lose
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12/12/02: The Real War
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08/06/02: Fantasy Reporting: The latest disinformation from the Washington Post
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07/09/02: History being made, but the West appears clueless
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05/14/02: Open doors for thugs
04/20/02: Iran on the Brink … and the U.S. does nothing
04/16/02: Its the war, stupid … someone remind Colin Powell
04/08/02: Gulled: In the Middle East, Arafat doesn't matter
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03/26/02: The Revolution Continues: What's brewing in Iran
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02/12/02: Unnoticed Bombshell: Key information in a new book
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01/29/02: My past with "Johnny Jihad's" lawyer
01/21/02: It's Munich, all over again
01/08/02: What's the Holdup?: It's time for the next battles in the war against terrorism
12/11/01: We must be imperious, ruthless, and relentless
12/06/01: Remembering my family friend, Walt Disney
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11/13/01: How We're Doing: The Angleton Files, IV
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10/04/01: What do we not know?
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08/22/01: How Israel will win this war
08/15/01: Bracing for war
08/09/01: More Dithering Democrats
08/02/01: Delirious Dems
07/31/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit, cont'd
07/19/01: Be careful what you wish for
07/17/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit
07/05/01: Let Slobo Go
05/30/01: Anybody out there afraid of the Republicans?
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05/07/01: Bye-bye, Blumenthal
04/20/01: Handling China
04/11/01: EXAM TIME!
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03/09/01: Time for a good, old-fashioned purge
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01/30/01: The Rest of the Rich Story
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01/11/01: A fitting close to the Clinton years
12/26/00: Continuing Clinton's shameful legacy
12/21/00: Clinton’s gift for Bush
© 2001, Michael Ledeen