Iran’s Growing Threat

By Rachel Ehrenfeld | July 23, 2004

23 July 2004: Recent events have made it clear that the threat posed by Iran should be dealt with sooner rather than later. Today’s 9/11 Commission report documents extensive ties between Iran and terrorism, and the mullahs’ drive to create a nuclear weapon is well known. In recent days, Iranian officials and clerics have increased the incitement for violence against American and Coalition forces in Iraq. However, ending the real threat this fundamentalist Islamic theocracy poses to the United States and the West may be impossible, thanks to the Left’s and the pro-Islamists non-stop assault on the president’s credibility.

The case against Iran should be air-tight. The Bush administration is now armed with:

[1] The 9/11 Commission’s report, documenting the logistical, operational and material support from Iran and Hezbollah (Iran’s international terrorist arm) to al-Qaeda;

[2] Iran’s own admission of its intention to develop nuclear weapons;

[3] Iran’s increasing anti-American rhetoric; and

[4] Iran’s growing support of terrorism in Iraq.

According to the just-released 9/11 Commission Report, Iran’s support of al-Qaeda dates back to 1991, when operatives from both sides met in Sudan and agreed “to cooperate in providing support-even if only training-for actions carried out primarily against Israel and the United States.”

By 1993, “al-Qaeda received advice and training from Hezbollah” in intelligence, security and explosives, especially in “how to use truck bombs.” The training took place in the Bekaa Valley, Hezbollah’s stronghold in Lebanon.

The commission further reports that “at least 8 to 10 of the 14 Saudi ‘muscle’ operatives traveled into and out of Iran between October 2000 and February 2001,” and that Iran facilitated “the travel of al-Qaeda members through Iran on their way to and from Afghanistan.” Yet in an ostrich-like move, the commission refrained from accusing Iran of supporting al-Qaeda.

This is how the commission phrased it: “There is strong evidence that Iran facilitated the transit of al Qaeda members into and out of Afghanistan before 9/11, and that some of these were future 9-11 hijackers.however, we cannot rule out the possibility of a remarkable coincidence…[and] we found no evidence that Iran or Hezbollah was aware of the planning for what later became the 9/11 attack.”

Indeed, the commission recommends that further investigations should be carried out, but looking at the body of evidence about Iran’s leadership role in worldwide terrorism and the war against the U.S., one can only hope that we can act in time to restrain it.

“Iran is closer to nuclear capability that it was two years ago,” said Dr.
Ephraim Kam, deputy director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv, earlier this week. And U.S. Senator Sam Brownback, R-KS, also added that Iran is clearly developing nuclear weapons. Pakistan, as we found out earlier this year, provided Iran with information on how to build an atomic bomb.

Iran’s admission that they are working on developing nuclear capabilities was made in November 2003 by a member of the Iranian Parliament, Ahmad Shirzad. He made reference to the existence of a then-unknown essential nuclear facility, at a time when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iranian opposition had identified at least 8 different nuclear facilities in Iran. Despite all the evidence, it is unlikely that the international community will take steps to disarm Iran any time soon - indeed, the IAEA and EU overtures have been disastrous. And undoubtedly, China and Russia will block any real disarmament efforts.

Iran denies that it is developing nuclear weapons; however on July 6, 2004, the Iranian daily, Kayhan’s editorial warned that, “The entire Islamic Middle East is now a volatile and tangled trap, and will be set off by the smallest bit of silliness - and will reap many victims of the sinful adventurers.Indeed, the White House’s 80 years of exclusive rule are likely to become 80 seconds of Hell that will burn to ashes everything that has been built.” Earlier, according to reports in the Kuwaiti, Al-Siyassah, Hashemi Rafsanjani, the head of the Expediency Council stated, “The present situation in Iraq represents a threat as well as an opportunity… It is a threat because the wounded American beast can take enraged actions, but it is also an opportunity to teach this beast a lesson so it won’t attack another country.” He ended his speech calling for “Death to America, Death to Israel.”

Iran’s support of the growing terrorist activities in Iraq and its attempts to destabilize the interim government resulted in warnings issued this week by the Defense and Interior Ministers of Iraq in an interview for the London based Arabic-daily, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. The Defense Minister, Hazem Al-Sha’lan, after accusing Iran of supporting terrorism on Iraqi soil, warned, “We have the capability to move the assault into their country[ies].”

If you think that Iran has its hands full with terrorist activities already, think again. Last month, according to Reuters, the Islamic Republic of Iran, through the proxy known as the Committee for the Commemoration of Martyrs of the Global Islamic Campaign - launched a new campaign calling for volunteers to carry out suicide attacks against U.S and Coalition forces inside Iraq, as well as missions targeting Israel and author Salman Rushdie.

Since the 10,000 volunteers already registered are not enough, they distributed a “Preliminary Registration for Martyrdom Operations” application for the position of “martyr.” Announcing this new campaign, the cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati urged the public that “It is the duty of every Muslim to threaten U.S. and British interests anywhere.”

So, what are we waiting for? The president’s impaired credibility, a dividend of the perpetual partisan assaults of the political Left, most elements of the Democratic Party in general, and the pro-Islamists anti-American elements in Europe and elsewhere now poses a grave danger to our security at home and abroad. Since the Democratic Party has embraced its activist core, its politicians have denounced the war in Iraq as unjustified and immoral, each American and Iraq death the intended by-product of President Bush’s wilful lies. Ted Kennedy claimed the war was “cooked up in Texas” months or years before it was launched; Al Gore screeches that President Bush “betrayed us!”; and the Left at large has claimed the president massaged intelligence to manipulate the public into attacking the benign despot of Iraq. The 9/11 Commission’s and Lord Butler’s report debunked the Left’s and the pro- Islamists’ allegations, but the damage was already done. Having tarnished the president’s veracity specifically on the War on Terror for political advantage, the Democrats hope is to render us impotent to respond to the genuine threat posed by Tehran. If the damage they have caused cannot be reversed, their self-seeking rhetoric may prove to have mortal consequences.

*Rachel Ehrenfeld is the author of Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed and How to Stop It and is the Director of the American Center for Democracy.