EDITOR’S NOTE: At his speech at the United Nations on Wednesday, Secretary of State Colin Powell introduced the name of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as a vital link between Iraq and al Qaeda. But Michael Ledeen introduced the name on NRO on December 12, 2002. Powell’s example of Zarqawi, in fact, proves more than the administration likely wanted to prove: As Ledeen shows in his December 12 piece, Zarqawi not only proves Iraq but Iran. We reprint the NRO scoop from December below (with one change: the spelling of Zarqawi’s name, to be consistent with the State department choice of spelling).
A terrorist by the name of Abdullah S. (name withheld for some reason I can’t quite fathom) was arrested in Germany, along with 13 other members of a Palestinian Islamic group called al Tawhid. Since last April, Abdullah has been very cooperative with German authorities, who have brought the entire group to trial on charges of planning suicide terrorist operations in Europe against Jewish and American targets, and also against the German Army.
The case was reported in Die Zeit on the 5th of December, and its absence from the American press is yet another indication of the lackluster performance of our journalistic paladins. For the head of al Tawhid is a chap called Mohammed Zarqawi, and Zarqawi is simultaneously a top officer of al Qaeda, and he lives and works in Tehran. Abdullah S. has pointed out to German intelligence officers that al Tawhid could not function without the active support of the Iranian regime. And he has provided many chapters and many verses with pithy details that all go to support the picture of Iran I have presented in The War Against the Terror Masters and in this ongoing series in NRO. To wit:
— Zarqawi is a Palestinian with a Jordanian passport, and he supervises terrorist training camps near Herat and Kabul, thus confirming the ongoing role of Iran/al-Qaeda in organizing and running terrorist operations in Afghanistan;
— According to German intelligence, Zarqawi is a key figure in the “reorganized al-Qaeda” as well as one of the major coordinators of Iranian-sponsored terrorism in Europe. His group, al-Tawhid, has arranged false documentation for more than 100 al Qaeda fighters who escaped from Afghanistan during the war, provided them with funds, passports, and safe haven (near Tehran), and then organized their movement out of Iran to other areas, some in the Middle East, others — as Abdullah S. demonstrates — in the West;
— German prosecutors now realize that Iran is a major center for al Qaeda, and they have identified roughly a dozen camps around Tehran where al Qaeda terrorists are taken care of by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. These camps are part of an elaborate underground railroad: The terrorists and their families are moved out of Afghanistan and Pakistan into Iranian Baluchistan and then into Iran proper. From there they go by air or land either to Beirut or to Damascus (the State Department’s “ally” in the war against terror), and then into the Bekka Valley of Lebanon to one of the legendary centers of Hezbollah terror, ein Hilweh. Once their training and phony identities are completed, they move on;
— The Germans have now confirmed that there have been meetings and that there is ongoing cooperation between al Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden and Hezbollah’s chief of operations, the equally legendary Imad Mughniyah. Not only are they cooperating on terrorist operations, but they are working closely to secure their wealth: Al Qaeda and Hezbollah work together to move gold and diamonds from Karachi to Sudan, via Iran.
In short, there is now public information to confirm what I have long asserted — and what the CIA and others have long denied — namely that there is a working relationship between Hezbollah and al Qaeda, and that this is all made possible by the Iranian regime.
Die Zeit tells us that the German government is very upset by these discoveries, because the Germans, like many Europeans, thought they’d bought off the mullahs, and it’s distressing to them to find the Iranians planning suicide terrorism on the soil of the motherland. And there’s more. A German news agency reported a week ago of the seizure, by German Customs agents, of a shipment of 44 electronic switching modules (worth roughly $75,000) “that could be programmed to detonate a nuclear bomb.” These handy German products were headed from Stuttgart to Singapore, with an unknown final destination. What’s the connection? “An article published today in Focus Magazine potentially implicates two Iranian men, one of whom carries a Swedish passport.”
Meanwhile, the estimable David Rose in the latest Vanity Fair calmly and carefully lays out a very convincing case of close working relations between Iraq and al Qaeda. He tells us that his sources in the United States intelligence community speak of “hundreds” of reports of contacts between al Qaeda terrorists involved in the 9/11 attacks and Iraqi intelligence officials “in the United Arab Emirates.” That would most likely be Dubai, the Iranian colony that, along with Iranians in town, has been laundering Saddam’s money, handling Saddam’s illegal oil exports and generally providing an all-service, one-stop help station for Iran and Iraq. All of which points to yet another point I have stressed: It is a mistake to think of Iran and Iraq as scorpions in a bottle. They, along with the Syrians and the Saudis, are working together against us (which is why we will find ourselves in a regional war once we start the campaign against Iraq).
It’s always nice to be vindicated by events, but I don’t want further vindication in the weeks and months ahead, if, as I fear, it costs the lives of young Iranians fighting for freedom in their country and the lives of young Americans fighting the war against the terror masters.
Iran is the heart of darkness. Enough already. Do it now.
— Michael Ledeen, an NRO contributing editor, is most recently the author of The War Against the Terror Masters. Ledeen, Resident Scholar in the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute, can be reached through Benador Associates.