ascf news review - may 2012
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AMERICAN SECURITY COUNCIL FOUNDATION
National Security Report
Promoting Peace through Strength
In This Issue:
A Tyranny of Terror By Alan W. Dowd
ASCF Senior Fellow
Volume 1III, Issue V May 2012 Page 2
Theres really nothing like the government of Iran anywhere on
earth. Sure, Syria grants terrorists prime office space in Damascus
and Beirut, and the Kim Dynasty of North Korea has dabbled in
terrorism from time to time. But the mullahs who run Iran have
normalized terrorism into a basic government functionjust like
building roads and schools. Indeed, it could be argued that the Is
lamic Republic of Iran is not a regime that happens to engage in
terrorism, but rather a terrorist organization that happens to run a
regime. From its very beginnings, this terrorist tyranny has been at
war with America.
It bears repeatingespecially as Washington dispatches emissaries
here and there to negotiate with Tehran over its outlaw nuclear
programthat the Islamic Republic was born amidst an act of ter
rorism: the assault on the U.S. embassy and consequent hostage
crisis. Ever since, Irans mullahs have funded, fomented and carried
out terrorism, often using proxies like Hezbollah to do their bid-
Tehran funnels at least $100 million to Hezbollah annually, and while technically independent, Hezbollah swears allegiance to Irans
Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Describing Iran as the most active state sponsor of terrorism, a recent State
Department report on global terror notes that Tehran has assisted Hezbollah in rearminghas provided hundreds of millions of
dollars in support to Hezbollah in Lebanon and has trained thousands of Hezbollah fighters at camps in Iran.
Bob Graham, former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, revealed in 2005 that Hezbollah has the largest number of agents in the U.S., many more than al Qaeda. Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, added more detail to the Iran-Hezbollah mosaic this year, reporting that hundreds or thousands of Hezbollah agents are in the U.S. The American intelligence community, he grimly concluded, believes we are very much at risk for an attack by Iranian operatives, which would be Hezbollah.
It pays to recall that Hezbollah already has American blood on its hands. From Beirut to Flight 847 to Khobar Towers, this sleeper-
cell army has played a role in the murders of some 300 Americans. Its worth noting that before September 11, Hezbollah had k illed
more Americans than any other terrorist group on earth.
But Hezbollah is just one of Irans terrorist tentacles. Indeed, Iran has done far more damage to American interests and Amer ican
lives through its proxies in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Asked in 2004 about U.S. concerns over Iranian meddling in Iraq, a high-level Iranian official responded with a vague threat: They
know that if Iran wanted to, it could make their problems even worse.
Eight years and countless casualties later, we know Tehran wasnt bluffing. At the height of its proxy war in Iraq, Iran was pouring
hundreds of millions in cash and equipment into Iraq annually to support thousands of militia fighters. Irans army of guerillas used
IEDs, snipers and asymmetric attacks to expand Iranian influence and bloody the U.S. The numbers are not precise, but its
estimated that Iranian-made IEDs killed or wounded hundreds of American troops. Those weapons going in from Iran, Defense
Secretary Leon Panetta conceded last year, really hurt us.
Page 3 Peace through Strength
Specifically, Tehran provided what State describes as lethal support, including weapons, training, funding and guidance, to
Iraqi Shia militant groups that target[ed] U.S. and Iraqi forces. That lethal support included rockets, sniper rifles, automatic
weapons, and mortars. The mullahs even enlisted their Hezbollah partners to help the cause: The Qods Force, in concert with
Lebanese Hezbollah, provided training outside of Iraq as well as advisors inside Iraq for Shia militants in the construction and
use of sophisticated improvised explosive device technology and other advanced weaponry.
On the other side of Iran, in Afghanistan, Irans leaders have made common cause with the Taliban. State reports that the Qods
Forcean elite wing of Irans Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)has provided training to the Taliban on small unit
tactics, small arms, explosives and indirect fire weapons, such as mortars, artillery, and rockets. Since at least 2006, Iran has
arranged arms shipments to select Taliban members, including small arms and associated ammunition, rocket propelled
grenades, mortar rounds, 107mm rockets, and plastic explosives.
Those mortars, those RPGs, those artillery shells, those sniper rifles are killing American troops, eroding Americas will and
strangling the Afghan government. And now it appears that Tehran is making a lunge into the Western Hemisphere. During a
recent trip to South America, Panetta expressed concerns about efforts by the IRGC to expand their influence, not only
throughout the Middle East but also into this region. Not coincidentally, Hezbollah is raising funds across South America
through drug trafficking, counterfeiting and pirated goods.
Irans bizarre plot to subcontract out the assassination of a U.S.-based Saudi diplomat to Mexicos Zetas drug cartel is further
evidence of Irans increasing recklessnessand decreasing restraint. In what sounds like something out of a paperback novel,
high-ranking members of the Iranian government, according to U.S. officials, recruited an Iranian-American to serve as a con
duit between Iran and what they thought was a member of the Zetas cartel. Elements of the Qods Force promised $1.5 million
for the assassination of the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. According to Attorney General Eric Holder, this terrorist hit on
American soil was conceived, sponsored anddirected from Iran.
Learning from Reagan
It is this blood-soaked past and commitment to terror that makes Irans neighbors so anxious about its nuclear-armed future.
Make no mistake. The purpose of Irans nuclear program is to build a nuclear bomb. Iran does not need nuclear energy. It has
proven oil reserves of 130.8 billion barrelsenough to meet its current energy demands for 256 years. To think that the
regime that rules Iran could somehow be deterred or contained once it possesses nuclear weapons is to ignore the history of
the Islamic Republic.
So what should the U.S. do? Reagans presidency offers some helpful ideas.
In 1979, speaking about the Soviet tyranny, Reagan argued that a little less dtenteand more encouragement to the
dissenters might be worth a lot of armored divisions. In other words, Washington should publicly and forcefully press for an
opening of Irans political prisons, an end to the dictatorship of the mullahs and the beginning of an Iran that is free and self-
We know the Iranian regime is politically vulnerable. After all, the anti-autocracy revolutions of the Arab Spring arguably began
in the Persian nation of Iran. In the summer of 2009, Irans Twitter Revolution nearly toppled Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and
the mullahs. Although the Wests failure to support the Persian Spring of 2009 was inexplicable and indefensible, there still
may be an opportunity to encourage the dissenters. A recent RAND study notes that Iranians are highly reliant on state-
controlled media and educational sources. RAND suggests that Washington could promote U.S. broadcasts to Iran and the
provision of anti-filtering technology to Iranian web users.
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Moreover, just as Reagan sent Stinger missiles to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan and fax machines into Poland to aid Soli
daritys struggle against Moscows puppets, the U.S. should se