Jordanian Embassy Bombing and Hizballah Bombardment – Dual Show of Tehran`s Muscle

mg class=”picture” src=”/dynmedia/pictures/JRwreck.jpg” align=”right” border=”0″>The fingerprints of Ansar al-Islam, the Iraqi fundamentalist terror group linked to Al Qaeda, prompted Washington to place the FBI at the head of the investigation into the Jordanian embassy bombing in Baghdad Thursday, August 7, in which 19 people lost their lives and over 60 were injured. The day after, Lt.-Gen. Norton Schwartz, director of operations at the US Joint Staff, named the group as the possible perpetrators. Saturday, August 9, Gen. Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said non-Iraqi terrorists were responsible. He warned that the infiltration of Iraq by armed fighters from neighboring countries could raise tensions between the United States and those countries.
Early in the Iraq War, American bombers wiped out Ansar al-Islam’s main headquarters in Kurdish-controlled northeastern Iraq near the Iranian border. But US administrator Paul Bremer said recently that the group was reconstituting and members filtering back into Iraq from Iran.
What Bremer did not spell out was that Ansar members could only have returned to Iraq with a blessing, logistical aid and funding from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards special intelligence arm which owns a strong presence on both sides of the Iranian-Iraqi border.
debkafile‘s counter-terror analysts note that the US official reference to Ansar al Islam was tantamount to blaming Tehran for the Jordanian embassy outrage. And if Iran, our analysts say, then the key al Qaeda figure uniquely qualified to orchestrate the attack must have been Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who is also in Iranian hands.
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debkafile has kept close track of this Jordanian-Palestinian terror master’s checkered career. In October 2001, a month after the September 11 hijack-bombings in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, our sources exposed Ansar’s main headquarters at Bayara in northern Iraq and Zarqawi’s presence there. We reported that he was part of a secret chemical and biological weapons experimentation project run there in the darkest secrecy by Iraqi intelligence officers. debkafile‘s counter-terror sources report that Zarqawi is the only al Qaeda agent known to intelligence experts to have spent time in early 2000 at the Salman Pak facility 25 miles southeast of Baghdad for instruction in advanced terrorist and air hijacking techniques.
On Saturday, August 9, official sources in Washington uncovered information received for the first time that Iraq provided al Qaeda with training facilities and the components of chemical and biological weapons systems. The information came from recently captured al Qaeda men under interrogation. It aroused scant interest because most media are intent on questioning the Bush administration’s claims that Saddam had operational links with al Qaeda.
However, debkafile‘s sources and field inquiries traced these links from an early date.
Two and a half years ago we discovered that Zarqawi, on the strength of his studies in the northern Iraq Ansar base at Bayara, had been appointed al Qaeda’s expert in chemical, biological and radiological warfare. Then, just before the Iraq War in March 2003, he was given responsibility for designing unconventional weapons attacks in West Europe and Israel.
Latterly, debkafile found Zarqawi in a minor logistical role in the Casablanca bombings of May 16, four days after the suicide attacks in Riyadh.
However, his lead function in the Jordanian embassy bombing in Baghdad has broad significance for the large picture of regional security: The interaction between al Qaeda, Iran, Syria and Iraqi resistance on three warfronts bodes ill for the anti-American guerrilla war, which has claimed 56 American soldiers’ lives in 100 days, and for the global war on al Qaeda terror; it is showing promise of generating an armed Hizballah-Israeli border clash that would also involve Syria.
The Iranian leadership was shown up by the embassy attack as a fraud. After the suicide attacks on three Western compounds in Riyadh on May 12, a group of top al Qaeda operations officers was discovered sheltering in Iran, the most prominent being Zarqawi, Suleiman Abu Ghaith, the organization’s treasurer, Said al-Adel, who has top rating as the network’s chief of staff and lead organizer of the Riyadh operation, and one of Osama bin Laden’s sons, possibly Saad.
In quiet negotiations subsequent to the Riyadh bombings held with American and Egyptian representatives (see debkafile July 27 article on this page) – and open talks with the Saudis – Iranian officials vouched for these men being held incommunicado and not permitted to control outside networks. The Bush administration counted on this guarantee to paralyze an important part of al Qaeda’s operational capabilities and to open the way for further discussion with Iran on two other pressing issues, its nuclear weapons program and interference in Shiite affairs in southern Iraq and Baghdad.
That Zarqawi was permitted to set up the Jordanian bombing in Baghdad meant the Iranians had no serious intention of keeping their word or preventing al Qaeda from mounting terrorist attacks from their soil. The Jordanian embassy strike was too meticulously planned to have been put together in less than two or three weeks at the very least, certainly not on the spur of the moment like a sniper attack on a US convoy.
The night before the attack, a minivan packed with explosives was parked outside the Jordanian embassy unnoticed by the Iraqi police guards. Thursday morning, August 7, when the Jordanian consul and staff reached the gate of the compound on their way to work, a second vehicle drew up with four gunmen who shot rocket-propelled grenades at the bomb car and the embassy building, outside which a queue of visa applicants stood waiting.
Most of the casualties were hit by the exploding bomb car. A wing of the building caved in and caught fire. In a trice, a mob burst into the embassy, tore up the carpets and burnt the pictures of King Abdullah and his father King Hussein in front of television cameras. This was no spontaneous, frenzied mob but a staged scene for circulation around the Arab world’s television screens as a demonstration of how one of America’s closest allies was humiliated. The spectacle contributed little to US reputation in Iraq and even less to the standing of the Hashemite crown in Jordan.
Zarqawi worked through two parties, according to debkafile‘s intelligence and counter-terror sources: Ansar al Islam, with whom he was in touch since just before the American invasion of Iraq in March 2003, and Iraqi intelligence officers, whom he knew well from his training days at Salman Pak and the Ansar base at Bayara.
From his Iranian detention, he passed instructions out to Ansar contacts to get in touch with certain ex-Iraqi intelligence officers. As soon as contact was made, Zirqawi sent over a second set of instructions and money for the assault on the Jordanian embassy.
Thus was formed the first direct operational connection between Iran’s radical Revolutionary Guards – the dreaded Pazdaran, al Qaeda and former Iraqi intelligence officers still loyal to Saddam Hussein. They all share a burning ambition: to cripple the American presence in Iraq as part of a comprehensive onslaught on American’s strategic positions across the Middle East.
Twenty-four hours after the embassy blast in Baghdad, Tehran’s surrogate, the Lebanese terrorist Hizballah, began pounding Israeli military positions on Mt Dov and the Hermon. For three hours, Hizballah fired almost every heavy weapon in its arsenal – Katyusha rockets, anti-tank missiles, artillery and mortar shells and heavy machine guns – at Israeli border positions.
But their heaviest fire was concentrated on the Israeli command center known as Position Radar on Mt. Dov for the purpose of piercing its outer defensive fence. It worked and the central section of the position’s defense, command and communications system was struck and badly damaged. Hizballah also turned its long-range artillery on the Golan Heights with deliberate intent. The Druze village of Majd al Shams suffered damage to a house.
debkafile‘s Middle East sources point out that the Hizballah is not authorized to carry out attacks on a scale as extensive as this without a very clear directive from the highest levels of government in Tehran and Damascus. Ominous meanings may therefore be read into the timing and targeting of this round of Hizballah strikes.
1. It is a hands-off warning from Tehran to Washington to stop stirring up domestic dissent against the Iranian regime and ease its pressure with regard to Tehran’s nuclear weapons program. It is a reminder that Tehran is capable of activating two anti-American terror fronts, one through al Qaeda in Iraq and a second through the Hizballah against Israel. Tehran’s radicals also believe they command a third potential warfront, the Shiite millions of Iraq.
2. Tehran is boasting that in addition to al Qaeda in Iraq and the Hizballah threatening northern Israel, it commands a third resource capable of damaging American interests – the Assad regime in Damascus. The Hizballah bombardment of the Golan Heights which Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 war signified Damascus’s assent to Hizballah’s incorporation in a Syrian military offensive against Israel staged on the Golan Heights.
3. Syria is already deeply involved in pumping a motley assortment of Arab, Syrian, Palestinian, Egypt, Saudi, Yemen and Sudanese fighters across its border to fight the Americans alongside Saddam Hussein’s supporters. Syrian military intelligence also plays host to al Qaeda terrorists in Damascus and southern Lebanon. Given Syria’s adversarial role in both of the Bush administration’s main conflicts, the Hizballah escalation of violence against Israel rounds off Tehran’s threat to active all three military-terrorist fronts at the same time, along a line running from Baghdad to Israel’s borders with Lebanon and Syria – unless Washington turns the heat down.
Jordan has clearly joined Iran’s list of targets, and not only as an ally of Washington; Zarqawi, sentenced to death in absentia in the kingdom for plotting a series of terrorist strikes in Amman, has a personal score to settle with the Hashemite kingdom.
debkafile‘s Middle East and terror analysts conclude that Iran’s offensive has proceeded step by step from the May 12 bombings in Riyadh to the August 7 Jordanian embassy attack in Baghdad and the August 8 Hizballah barrage against Mt Dov. They also believe that this offensive is just starting, taking full advantage of the absence of President George W. Bush from Washington on vacation and the preoccupation of American and Israeli officials with settling the very important issue of the legitimate route for Israel’s anti-terror security barrier.

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