“Operation Clean Up?’
Vol: 23 Issue: 27 Wednesday, August 27, 2003
Israeli intelligence says that it has located some of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. The Bekaa Valley is the home base for Hezbollah, a terrorist group backed by both Damascus and Tehran. Syria is also controlled by the Ba’ath Party, as was Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
The Israelis used a spy satellite to photograph several tractor-trailer loads of suspected weapons into the Bekaa Valley, where the Islamist terrorist group is based.
Shipments there began in early January and ended the first week of March. According to Israeli intelligence, Saddam paid Syrian leader Bashar Assad $35 million to hide the weapons. In addition, Hezbollah now has an estimated 12,000 Katyusha rockets to use against northern Israel. The terrorist group also has anti-aircraft guns and sophisticated communications systems.
At the time, their importance largely escaped the CIA.
The flow of Iraqi trucks from Syria continued through March, just two weeks before the U.S.-led war. Over the last few weeks, following a dead-end in leads of WMD sites inside Iraq and near the Syrian border, the CIA has taken a second look. The Israeli information is now corroborated by US intelligence, who say they have detected tractor-trailers filled what appear to be WMD and missile systems moving from Iraq through Syria and into Lebanon. The trucks and the equipment have been brought to underground sites in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. The area is heavily fortified with Iraqis, Iranians, Syrians and Hezbollah operatives.
The US has been conducting inquiries in both Tehran and Damascus, but, unsurprisingly, the Iranians and Syrians continue to stonewall investigators. That stonewalling has some lawmakers in Washington pressing for a US military operation in the Bekaa against Hezbollah.
Hezbollah has been firing Katyusha rockets into northern Israel indiscriminately in recent days with the full support of the Syrian government. Syrian President Assad defended Hezbollah’s attacks on Israel to U.S. Mideast envoy William Burns. He said the escalation was a natural result of Israel’s retaliation against Hamas for the suicide attack on a bus filled with Israeli children.
Syria’s official news agency SANA quoted Assad as telling Burns: “It is no longer acceptable to shut one’s eyes to acts of killing and assassination by Israel while the Lebanese side is asked to be calm and restrained.”
Israeli warplanes and artillery attacked suspected Hezbollah sites in southern Lebanon Monday after an Israeli teenager was killed by a Hezbollah shell, part of volleys fired by the guerrillas toward Israel.
According to US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, the US intends to broaden its strategy for the war on terror to include Hezbollah and the threat from Lebanon. Calling Hezbollah the ‘A-Team of terror’, Armitage said that, “right now, we are focused on al-Qaeda, but one day, we will get around to Hezbollah.”
Getting around to Hezbollah means getting around to Syria and getting around to Iran, in much the same way that taking on al-Qaeda after 9/11 made getting around to Saddam Hussein a foregone conclusion. The risk of Iraq furnishing al-Qaeda with biological or chemical weapons was too great to ignore.
It is beginning to look more and more like the seeming chaos in Iraq is actually part of a carefully thought out managed-crisis. What appeared to be a series of tactical errors in retrospect, such as allowing defeated Iraqi divisions to melt away rather than taking POW s, the failure to secure Iraq s borders against the influx of terrorist fighters and the chaos in Baghdad caused by the terrorists may really be a strategy.
One designed to draw al-Qaeda into a trap, of sorts. Going over the transcripts of comments made by Paul Bremer on the weekend talk shows was revealing.
America s official policy regarding al-Qaeda is that we are in a war to the death. We will fight al-Qaeda wherever we can find them, and we will not stop until al-Qaeda is destroyed and the terrorists are either captured or killed, the president said in the policy speeches he gave shortly after September 11.
While not confirming it as an official strategy, Bremer hinted that the US was drawing al-Qaeda into Iraq deliberately. Asked that question directly by Brit Hume, Bremer answered, Well, you know, obviously speaking for those of us here, in Iraq, it doesn’t look like a very pleasant alternative. But I have to say, from a national point of view, if we’re going to fight terrorists, and we have to, we would, I’d rather have us fighting them somewhere outside the United States, than fighting them inside the United States.
Bremer answered Hume s question, in a manner of speaking.
And if we can capture or kill these guys here, that’s fewer people who are likely to fly planes into buildings in the United States. So, from a from an overall national security point of view, we’ve got war on terrorism. And we’re going to have to fight it where we can find the terrorists. And we’re finding them here now, Bremer said.
As Bremer points out, it is in America’s national security interests to fight terrorists in the Middle East, if it means we aren’t fighting them in New York or Washington.
With that in mind, consider the following sequence of events; The US was attacked on September 11 we went after al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. We got as many as we could, the remainder escaped to Iran. At the same time, evidence had been mounting for years of Saddam s WMD arsenal and Saddam had been growing increasingly belligerent during the period up to 9/11 while he tested the new president.
The war with Iraq ended the Saddam regime a laudable goal in itself. Osama bin-Laden promptly declared a new jihad against the United States to drive the Americans out.
Once the US pulled out of Saudi Arabia, al-Qaeda s cause was gone and Osama and his surviving network could melt back into the woodwork, their goal achieved, and American justice unsatisfied.
Until the US occupied Iraq. From that moment forward, it has become a magnet for al-Qaeda terrorists world-wide, aided and supported by both Syria and Iran. And it’s al-Qaeda that is calling the shots on the ground, not Saddam loyalists. Responsibility for the bombing of the UN headquarters was claimed by al-Qaeda.
Consequently, Iraq most likely has the highest concentration of al-Qaeda fighters anywhere in the world today. And the US has deployed most of its combat troops in Iraq, waiting for them.
Do you see the trap? The United States must fight al-Qaeda somewhere. That is already a foregone conclusion. As Bremer said, it is in the national interest to conduct that war in the Middle East instead of Middle America.
How does all this come together? After al-Qaeda, Hezbollah is next, says Armitage. The US is currently building a powerful case against both Syria and Iran Hezbollah s (and to a degree, al-Qaeda’s) two main sponsors.
The Bush Doctrine calls for the elimination of global terror and regime change in the states that sponsor it. Nuclear regulators just reported to the UN that tests showed traces of weapons grade uranium in Iran for which Tehran had no good explanation. It is an open secret that Tehran has nuclear ambitions.
US intelligence estimates say those ambitions will be realized within the next year or two, unless something is done to prevent Iran from continuing its development project.
US intelligence is leaking information that there are weapons of mass destruction hidden in Lebanon with Syria s enthusiastic assistance.
Connecting the dots, it appears that the administration might be getting ready to go for broke and clean up the Middle East once and for all.
If so, recent history suggests it will play out like this: The only unwavering support the United States can count on will come from Israel, with possibly some lukewarm support from Britain or Australia. Russia will oppose America but the opposition will be more form than substance. The rest of the world will stand firmly against us, especially Europe.
It will be America and Israel, alone, against the terrorists, Syria (with its hidden WMD s) and a probable nuclear Iran.
Sound about right?
That’s how Ezekiel, Daniel and Zechariah saw it, too.