From Somalia and al-Qaeda to Hamas and American Hizballah Cells
By Steve Schippert | November 17, 2006
One might ask: “Why should the average American bother reading yet another lengthy report on the threat posed by Iran?” Or, more to the point: “Why should I care? Why should I be concerned? Iran is in the Middle East and seems bent on Israel.”
The answer is because Iran’s Hizballah has active terrorist cells in the United States. This, coupled with Iran’s role as the Central Banker of International Terrorism, should compel the average American to take Iranian threats seriously – such as Ahmadinejad’s recent open Jihad ultimatum to Europe. Created by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and responsible for (among other attacks) the bombing of the US Marine Corps barracks in Beirut which killed nearly 300, Hizballah’s presence in the United States is well documented. While Iran openly states that the ‘Zionist Regime’ should be “wiped off the map” and pledges to do just that – as do Hamas and others – even Israel is referred to as the ‘Little Satan’ while America remains the ‘Great Satan.’
Putting The Iranian Terrorism Crisis First
The persistent threat from Iran is not the nuclear weapons it seeks to wield, but rather the nature of the regime that will be in possession of such destructive power – a threatening nature that is clearly indicated by the regimes and terrorist organizations the Iranian mullahs materially support throughout the world. Without consideration of Iran’s internal brutal treatment of its own citizenry, it’s external dealings are indication enough of regime intent. This intent clearly signals that the specter nuclear weapons in the hands of the Central Bankers of Terrorism is certainly a greater potential danger than all of the Sunni and Shi’a Islamist terrorist groups it currently supports.
The root of the threat from Iran is clearly terrorism. Nuclear weapons – and their horrifying devastation – are but a weapon potentially wielded as part of that threat. And if the messianic fatalists in Iran, such as Ahmadinejad’s spiritual mentor, Ayatollah Mezba-Yazdi, gain control of the Council of Experts in the upcoming December elections, what materialistic rationality exists to appeal to among the unlikable but wealthy, powerful and preservationist mullahs may be lost altogether.
The Council of Experts has the power to remove and elect the Supreme Leader and may potentially replace Ayatollah Khameini with Mezba-Yazdi for the purposes of more rapidly ‘paving the way for the return of the Mahdi,’ or 12th Imam. The powerful messianic faithful believe that he will return when the world is plunged into chaos and bloodshed of unseen proportions.
Terrorism equipped with nuclear weapons must be seen as the ‘fast-food’ equivalent to ‘paving the way for the return of the Mahdi.’ To assume that Ahmadinejad, Yazdi and others in the Iranian regime would employ only their own Shi’a-faithful terrorists such as Hizballah and shun Sunni groups such as al-Qaeda is to ignore existing evidence to the contrary.
Iran's Somali 'Ore for Arms' Uranium Deal
In newly exposed developments disturbing to the West, a United Nations report on arms proliferation into Somalia implicated Iran among six other Middle Eastern and African nations. The report details how Iran has been seeking to trade arms shipments to the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) in return for raw uranium ore in abundance in Islamist-controlled southern Somalia. In the UK’s Telegraph reporting, it is unclear whether Iran has successfully extracted any shipments of uranium to date.
The report detailed three inbound Iranian arms shipments, one by plane in which the Shi’a theocracy supplied the Sunni ICU, an al-Qaeda branch, “1,000 machineguns, 45 surface-to-air missiles, M-79 rocket launchers and land mines.” This shipment was promised to be the first of many if the ICU agreed to exchange return shipments of its uranium ore. Presumably, the Iranians would send freighters by sea loaded with weapons and, after unloading them, the cargo holds would be filled with raw uranium ore bound for Iran for enrichment. Two Iranians were reported as being sent to the Somali town of Dhusa Mareb to negotiate the detail of the Arms for Ore deal.
Somalia: An Iran-al-Qaeda Convergence Zone
While Iran has been sending weapons shipments into Somalia for the ICU to wage war with, al-Qaeda been pouring hundreds of trained terrorists into Somalia to use those weapons and tighten the grip bin Laden's ICU 'franchise' has on Somalia. The terrorists are sent from Pakistan via nearby Yemen, taking a relatively short boat trip from the Yemeni coastline to Somali ports.
With the Iranian efforts to extract Somali ore in exchange for arms and the al-Qaeda trafficking of trained terrorist fighters, it was no coincidence that among the ICU's first objectives in taking Somalia was to seize and secure the coastal port cities and their port facilities.
The Telegraph report indicates that the first Iranian arms shipment - sorely needed by the lightly armed Islamists - was brought in by plane. That the UN report explicitly indicates the first shipment by plane suggests that subsequent shipments were by another means: by ship. If freighters are arriving in Somali ports, they are unlikely to leave empty. It is reasonable to conclude that Iran has received at least two freighter loads of unknown tons of uranium ore, material that the IAEA will have no accounting for in Iran's growing enrichment operations.
In the Somali Convergence Zone, Iran gets what it wants as does al-Qaeda. Iran gets nuclear material in a clandestine manner while al-Qaeda sends in hundreds of men to use the Iranian weapons and secure Somalia for both a future base of terrorist operations (Afghanistan II) as well as incrementally expand the reach of the desired Islamist Caliphate.
Iran’s Nuclear Program Still A Clandestine Operation
Most importantly going forward is the little recognized factor that the once-secret Somali ore transfers would provide Iran untraceable uranium stores in amounts unknown to the IAEA. While the Iranian nuclear program was exposed in 2003, much of its extent and facilities remain outside the scope of observation. The still-clandestine nuclear program remains under direct military control, not within the ‘civilian’ Iranian nuclear agency.
With a store of uranium unknown to the IAEA, Iran could produce enriched uranium that would not need to be accounted for during IAEA inspections. This would give Iran in the future a plausible appearance of producing only what it needed to fuel reactors while creating weapons in parallel. Indeed, yesterday chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani suggested that Iran would welcome renewed IAEA inspections if the Security Council dropped its drive for sanctions and returned the Iranian dossier to the IAEA, a monitoring agency without an enforcement mechanism beyond reference to the Security Council.
What remains clear is the Iranian desire to still work beyond the observation range of the IAEA and outside the scope of the NPT, just as it did for decades prior to the 2003 exposure of its clandestine nuclear program. That clandestine nature continues to this day, with or without IAEA inspections.
Shi'a Iran’s Support of Sunni Terrorists
The Iranian dealings in Somalia further indicate a willingness and track record of working with Sunni terrorists and, in particular, al-Qaeda. Just as some incorrectly held the belief that theologically driven al-Qaeda would never cooperate with a secular and thus apostate Saddam Hussein, it is becoming undeniably clearer that the Shi’a Islamists of Iran will cooperate and assist terrorists from the bitter rival Sunni sects of the Muslim faith just as readily.
The Islamic Courts Union in Somalia is an al-Qaeda ‘franchise’ organization tasked with expanding jihad in Africa and setting up a base from which to operate similar to Afghanistan prior to 2001.
The arms shipments to the ICU in Somalia are clear indications of Iranian support for terrorists that they disagree with theologically. Both sides in a cooperation of convenience and/or necessity, engaging a common enemy, shelve those differences. Unlike the American body politic, they have largely agreed to fight their battles among each other at a later time.
Iran’s Newly-Purchased Hamas Ally Against Israel
When it furthers their strategic objectives, Iran’s support for Sunni terrorists can also be seen in its massive influx of money, arms and training to Hamas in the Gaza Strip. In order to gain influence among the Palestinians, Iran has sent over $120 million in cash to Hamas, supplied them with the same tank-killing rockets of Russian design that they supplied Hizballah, and serves as the primary source of the tons of explosives, thousands of machine guns and millions of rounds of ammunition in Gaza as Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence services has been warning of for months.
It was recently released by Israeli intelligence that, in July, two suicide bomb belts made of highly potent liquid explosives undetectable to scanners were discovered in the West Bank. One was in the possession of a would-be suicide bomber who was thwarted while wearing it on his intended mission. The other was found by the Palestinian police hidden in a PA Police headquarters building in Ramallah. The Popular Resistance Committees, an umbrella terrorist group comprised primarily of Hamas and former-Hamas terrorists, made the new never-before-seen explosive belts in the Gaza Strip and delivered them to the West Bank. The source of the new technology is almost certainly Iran, just as it is the source of Hamas' other new weaponry, including but surely not limited to the Merkava killing anti-tank rockets used in the Popular Resistance Committees' tunnel operation that resulted in the abduction of IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit. (See: Anatomy of An Attack: The Palestinian Tunnel Raid.)
Consider that in April, al-Qaeda issued a fatwa condemning the fellow-Sunni Hamas organization for drifting from strict adherence to the faith. Shi'a Iran, however, finds no ideological fault great enough to prevent their support. To them, Hamas provides their southern front against Israel, to coordinate with the Hizballah northern front in warfare against the “Zionist Regime” and her Jews.
Regardless of the often-sharp differences among them, the Iranian terror masters cooperate with al-Qaeda, Hamas and other Sunni terrorist groups when it furthers their strategic aims. They share two common enemy states: Israel and America.
The above developments regarding Iran’s involvement in Somalia, with al-Qaeda and with Hamas are but recent bullet points in a larger mosaic of the mullah regime supporting, expanding and exporting jihad.
Conclusion: Cooperation, Convenience, Convergence, and Confrontation
It should be considered soberly that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently delivered a very blunt Jihad ultimatum to Europe for its support of Israel. In no uncertain terms, Ahmadinejad declared, “This is an ultimatum. Don’t complain tomorrow.” There is no misinterpreting such directness. Yet little credence appears to have been paid to the threat made openly by the world’s foremost state sponsor of international terrorism, spoken by a messianic president whose principal desire is the ‘usher in the return of the Mehdi.’ He openly threatened the spread of Jihad to European soil for supporting the 'terrorist Zionist regime.'
Iran is engaged in efforts to wage warfare against Israel and non-Islamist Africans with a degree of perceived but false separation through their Hizballah proxies and even – clearly - al-Qaeda when it serves their purposes. To conclude that the Iranian terror-sponsoring regime would not and is not providing precisely the same level of support and cooperation against the American “Great Satan” would be a miscalculation of tragic proportions.
Why should the average American care enough to understand? Because the Iranian facilitator and embodiment of terror, Hizballah, has cells active in the United States. To dismiss or treat lightly the Iranian threat because the regime is in the Middle East is to repeat the deadly error of dismissing al-Qaeda because bin Laden and company were running terrorist training camps in far away Afghanistan. And they will cooperate with one another when it supports their common aims of attacking and killing the enemy.
Ultimately, average Americans are that enemy. No different than the average Israelis killed by the rain of Hizballah rocket fire intentionally raining down on civilian populations for the effects of terror. No different than the average Americans smote from our midst by al-Qaeda on September 11, 2001. No different than the average Somali gunned down recently amongst a crowd fired upon by the ICU for protesting in the streets of Mogadishu.
To the Islamists, they are the enemy. And we are ‘they.’