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Jewish World Review Sept. 3, 2003 / 6 Elul, 5763

Michael Ledeen

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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.

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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 was promised.

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?

Faster, please.

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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.


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.
05/28/03: The Moment of Truth? U.S. policy could determine Iran's destiny
05/15/03: Iran's Path: Stopping the mullahs in their tracks
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
05/01/03: Desert Shame Redux: Want a free Iran and a free Syria? We have to fight for it
04/25/03: Timing Is Everything: We have a narrow window in Iraq to win Shiite support
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
03/21/03: The Killer Pneu: Virus terror from China
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
02/19/03: The willful blindness of those who will not see
02/12/03: The Europeans Know More Than They Now Pretend? They choose to dawdle and obstruct
02/03/03: Monumental failure: Nelson Mandela had promise
01/30/03: Elevation: The president knows what it's all about
01/29/03: No Leader: France's Chirac is all about personal interest
01/28/03: The Axis of Evil Redux: Same place, a year later
01/27/03: The Return of the Ayatollah: Washington could afford a little more attention on Iran
01/13/03: How we could lose
01/09/03: Fish are Better than Women: Gauging U.S. priorities
01/07/03: The Shape of Things to Come: The terror masters are now waiting for us
12/20/02: A Prophecy for the New Year --- Faster, please!
12/16/02: Scud Surrender: The "W" factor
12/13/02: The Heart of Darkness: The mullahs make terror possible
12/12/02: The Real War
12/09/02: Tom Friedman's Reformation: His Iran
11/26/02: How Tyrannies Fall: Opportunity time in Iran
11/22/02: The Blind Leading the Blind: The New York Times and the Iranian crisis
11/13/02: The Temperature Rises: We should liberate Iran first --- now
11/05/02: End of the Road: Iran's Mohammed Khatami, on his way out
10/29/02: The Angleton Dialogues, Contnued: What George Tenet doesn’t know
10/24/02: The Iranian Comedy Hour: In the U.S., the silence continues
10/16/02: Sniper, Saboteur, or Sleeper? Channeling James Jesus Angleton
10/01/02: The real foe
09/27/02: The Iranian String Quartet: The mullahs get increasingly nervous
09/25/02: The Dubya Doctrine
09/23/02: Intelligence? What intelligence?
09/12/02: America's revenge: To turn tyrannies into democracies
09/10/02: Iran & Afghanistan & Us: We'll have to deal with the mullahcracy, sooner or later
09/04/02: Iran, according to the Times: All the nonsense that's fit to print
08/21/02: Life and death of Abu Nidal tells us a great deal about our enemies
08/08/02: Can You Keep a Secret?: The media silence on Iran
08/06/02: Fantasy Reporting: The latest disinformation from the Washington Post
08/02/02: Propping Up the Terror Masters: Europe's Solana on tour
07/16/02: Bush vs. the Mullahs: Getting on the side of the Iranian freedom fighters
07/12/02: The State Department Goes Mute: It's official: State has no message
07/09/02: History being made, but the West appears clueless
06/05/02: Is George Tenet endangering peace in Israel?
06/03/02: Ridiculous, even for a journalist
05/20/02: So how come nobody's been fired yet?
05/14/02: Open doors for thugs
04/20/02: Iran on the Brink … and the U.S. does nothing
04/16/02: It’s the war, stupid … someone remind Colin Powell
04/08/02: Gulled: In the Middle East, Arafat doesn't matter
04/02/02: Faster, Please: The war falters
03/26/02: The Revolution Continues: What's brewing in Iran
03/18/02: Iran simmers still: Where's the press?
03/05/02: We can't lose any more ground in Iran
02/14/02: The Great Iranian Hoax
02/12/02: Unnoticed Bombshell: Key information in a new book
01/31/02: The truth behind the Powell play
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
11/28/01: The Barbara Olson Bomb: Understanding the war
11/13/01: How We're Doing: The Angleton Files, IV
11/06/01: A great revolutionary war is coming
10/25/01: How to talk to a terrorist
10/23/01: Creative Reporting: Learning to appreciate press briefings
10/19/01: Not the Emmys: A Beltway award presentation
10/15/01: Rediscovering American character
10/11/01: Somehow, I've missed Arafat's praise of the first stage of our war on terrorism
10/04/01: What do we not know?
09/28/01: Machiavelli On Our War: Some advice for our leaders
09/25/01: No Room for the U.N.: Keeping Annan & co. out of the picture
09/21/01: Creative destruction
09/14/01: Who Killed Barbara Olson?
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?
05/09/01: The bad guys to the rescue
05/07/01: Bye-bye, Blumenthal
04/20/01: Handling China
04/11/01: EXAM TIME!
04/05/01: Chinese over-water torture
03/27/01: Fighting AIDS in Africa is a losing proposition
03/14/01: Big Bird, Oscar, and other threats
03/09/01: Time for a good, old-fashioned purge
03/06/01: Powell’s great (mis)adventure
02/26/01: The Clinton Sopranos
02/20/01: Unity Schmoonity: Sharon is defying the will of the people
01/30/01: The Rest of the Rich Story
01/22/01: Ashcroft the Jew
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