Iran's Covert Actions in Iraq

Article excerpt

Byline: Constantine C. Menges, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

On April 4, 2004, Sheik Muqtada al-Sadr, a pro-Iranian Iraqi cleric, called on his followers to "terrorize your enemy," meaning the Americans and all those Iraqis cooperating to bring about a constitutional government.

This led tens of thousands of the cleric's armed and unarmed followers to attack U.S. and Coalition forces in four Iraqi cities. This was a preview of the violence and turmoil Iranian covert action could inflict in the coming months.

This threat is the current September 11, because the administration has not yet "connected the dots" revealing Iran's secret but discernible activities.

Following removal of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, the Iranian clerical dictatorship began a covert effort to set up an allied Shi'ite Islamist extremist regime in 60 percent Shi'ite Iraq. Iran has prepared this for many years and recruited political, military and covert agent assets among the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Shi'ites who fled Iraq to live in Iran.

The Iranian dictatorship is acting to bring about a "second Iran" in Iraq in five ways:

(1) Those Iraqi Shi'ite clerics who agree with the heretical Khomeini view that the clergy should rule society in all aspects are used by Iran to build a power base from their mosques and associated social services. Iran views as the future religious leader of Iraq Ayatollah Al Haeri, an Iraqi cleric who has lived in Iran for the last 30 years and who, when Baghdad was liberated last year, issued an edict telling Iraqi clergy not to cooperate with the United States.

(2) Iran established the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq as a political movement that could win elections or take power town by town with the help of covert Iranian funds and propaganda. This organization also has an Iranian-trained and -armed paramilitary group of about 30,000. Both the political and the armed wings began moving from Iran into Iraq in March 2003. Iran also funds the Dawa Party. Leaders of both these Iran-linked parties are on the Iraqi Governing Council.

(3) Iran is working covertly with Iraqi extremist Sheik al-Sadr to use political and coercive means, including murder, to intimidate and take over Iraq's Shi'ite leadership. The murders of several prominent Shi'ite clerical leaders who favored democracy and cooperation with the coalition repeats Iran's covert actions since December 2001 in post-Taliban Afghanistan. There, a number of moderate Muslim clerics and political leaders were killed. It was Sheik al Sadr who issued the call to violence in Iraq on April 4, 2004. The next day, the coalition announced an Iraqi judge had issued an arrest warrant for Sheik al Sadr for the April 2003 murder of the respected moderate cleric, Ayatollah Al Kohei.

(4) Hezbollah, the Iranian-supported and often -directed terrorist organization has moved hundreds of cadres into Iraq as reported since last November. They along with Hamas, another Iranian-supported terrorist organization, have opened offices in Iraq and are recruiting Iraqis to be the foot soldiers and suicide killers in the massive terrorist attacks planned against U.S. and coalition forces. Iran is most likely to order these to begin fully after the planned July 1, 2004, turnover of civil authority to the Iraqis. It also is quite likely Iran will use its links with Hezbollah and al Qaeda to facilitate major terrorist attacks inside the United States this summer and fall to try to force the U.S. out of Iraq and increase the odds of an electoral defeat of President Bush.

(5) Iran has spent heavily seeking to dominate radio and television broadcasting in Iraq. A survey by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty found Iran is the source of 33 of 59 AM broadcasts and of 41 of 63 AM/FM/TV broadcasts heard in Iraq. In comparison, the U. …