Politics & Policy

The Enemy Among Us

They're coming, you know. In fact, they're here.

The French just arrested 20 people, apparently pretty close to doing some mean terrorist thing. In late September, nine people were arrested in Paris in “what officials said was a crackdown on suspected Islamic terrorist activities.” It was later reported that the DST (internal-security service) had learned that members of this group had been trained in Lebanon, and possessed an exotic poison: seeds of the “nigelle” plant, said to be highly lethal.

At the end of October, the London Telegraph reported that French authorities had discovered that “an Islamic terror cell has smuggled two surface-to-air missiles into Europe in a plot to shoot down planes at one of France’s main airports…” For extras, the terror group, part of the Zarqawi network, had chemical and biological agents including ricin, cyanide, and botulin.

In mid-October, the London Times reported that the British had found that everyone’s favorite terrorist deus ex machina, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, had created a new terrorist group (Ansar al-Fath, the Partisans of Victory) in Britain, and was recruiting “young Muslim fanatics” to go to Iraq to join the glorious jihad there.

In the Netherlands, seven presumed terrorists (including one female) were arrested in mid-October in the Hague, Amsterdam, and Amiere. This took place against continued threats against the lives of two members of parliament, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Geert Wilders, outspoken critics of radical Islamic extremists. Dutch authorities say the terror group is called Hofstad.” Hofstad is quite interesting to counterterrorist organizations, because one of its supporters, a Chechen identified as “Marad J.,” had moved materials from Amsterdam to a very interesting garage in the town of Schiedam. In that garage the Dutch discovered all manner of documents, videos, and audiotapes, all related to jihad. It included instructions for making and moving bombs, how to respond to police interrogations, and various documents–belonging to another Chechen, Borz-ali I–tracking the purchase of helicopters, landmine detectors, listening devices, and (get this) 1,246,000 gas masks.

Suspected suicide terrorists were arrested in Copenhagen in late October. Islamic extremists have been expelled from Italy in recent weeks. And in our very own sunny Florida, at the Sami al-Arian trial in Tampa last August, an FBI agent by the name of Kerry Myers was asked whether Islamic Jihad had ever done anything mean to the United States. Myers said that there had been threats against America. Al-Arian’s attorney, William Moffitt, asked whether any action had followed the threats. “I can tell you there was a plot to commit terrorist acts in the United States,” Myers answered. Pressed for further information, he said “it’s classified.”

In Jordan, one of the country’s best journalists, Mohammed Abu Rumman, commented sadly that the country’s intelligence service–long considered the best in the Arab world–was totally surprised by the bloody attack in Amman. They thought they had the Zarqawi organization effectively penetrated, Rumman said, “we know he moves easily between Baghdad and Kabul, thanks to guaranteed safe passage from the Iranians,” but he still surprised the Jordanians.

Iraq seems to be quite thoroughly infested with Iranian weapons, agents, and money (and, if Dexter Filkens of the New York Times has it right, with phony ballots as well). At the end of October, the London Telegraph’s Con Coughlin reported that “Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have set up a network of secret smuggling routes to ferry men and equipment into Iraq for attacks on coalition troops.” The information was sourced to the MEK, which, while politically unattractive, often has good information, and Coughlin added that Western intelligence agencies (heaven help us!) “Have reported a sharp increase in Iran’s involvement in insurgent operations…”

Coughlin also reported, in late November, that “Chechen rebels” (I wonder what’s the difference between “rebels’ and “insurgents”…) were being trained by Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Iran itself–the Imam Ali camp in Tehran.

It’s always fun to listen to the spooks try to explain what’s going on. Why are the Iranians supporting the Chechens against the Russians, when the Russians are so helpful to the Iranian nuclear program? Well, you see, “the Iranians are growing increasingly suspicious of Moscow’s intentions…so they are trying to put pressure on Moscow by backing Chechen fighters.” And why are the Iranians staging terrorist attacks against British soldiers in Basra? “To pressure Britain to drop its opposition to Iran’s nuclear programme.”

All very subtle, you see. Except that the Iranians have been supporting the Chechens for years, maybe even decades. It isn’t fine-tuned to diplomatic chitchat. And the domination of southern Iraq is part of the Iranian strategic plan, whatever Britain may or may not do about the Iranian nuclear program.

Look at that list of uncovered terrorist operations, and ask yourself how anyone could link the terror war against the West to any specific act by any specific country. Do the spooks think that France has come too close to the satanic Americans? Can anyone take these people seriously?

Look at the list again. Remind yourself that it is undoubtedly only a small fraction of the terror universe contained in Western countries. Look in the mirror and say “they are at war with us, but we are not taking the war to them anywhere but Iraq. That’s a sucker’s game.”

Then call the White House and say “faster, please.”

Michael Ledeen, an NRO contributing editor, is most recently the author of The War Against the Terror Masters. He is resident scholar in the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute

Michael LedeenMichael Ledeen is an American historian, philosopher, foreign-policy analyst, and writer. He is a former consultant to the National Security Council, the Department of State, and the Department of Defense. ...


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