A tragicomedy of errors

By CRAIG UNGER  |  November 20, 2007

President Bush had argued, “If we were not fighting and destroying this enemy in Iraq, they would not be idle. They would be plotting and killing Americans across the world and within our own borders.” But the London bombing proved that exactly the opposite was true. According to a study published in Mother Jones by Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank, research fellows at the Center on Law and Security at the NYU School of Law, the net effect of the Iraq War was that it increased global terrorism by a factor of seven. “The rate of terrorist attacks around the world by jihadist groups and the rate of fatalities in those attacks increased dramatically after the invasion of Iraq,” said the study. “A large part of this rise occurred in Iraq, which accounts for fully half of the global total of jihadist terrorist attacks in the post–Iraq War period. But even excluding Iraq, the average yearly number of jihadist terrorist attacks and resulting fatalities still rose sharply around the world by 265 percent and 58 percent, respectively.”

Four days after London, a suicide bomber in Baghdad killed 23 people outside an army recruiting center in Baghdad. Among other victims that day were nine members of a Shi’ite family. It was all but official. As Iraq’s former interim prime minister Ayad Allawi now asserted, Iraq was facing a civil war, and the consequences would be dire not just for Iraq but for Europe and America. A long-time ally of Washington, Allawi said, “The problem is that the Americans have no vision and no clear policy on how to go about in Iraq.”

As if the situation in Iraq were not enough, the neocons still had their eyes on Iran. To that end, in July 2005, House intelligence-committee chairman Peter Hoekstra (R-Michigan) and committee member Curt Weldon (R-Pennsylvania) met secretly in Paris with an Iranian exile known as “Ali.” Weldon had just published a book called Countdown to Terror: The Top-Secret Information That Could Prevent the Next Terrorist Attack on America . . . and How the CIA Has Ignored It, alleging that the CIA was ignoring intelligence about Iranian-sponsored terror plots against the US, and Ali had been one of their main sources. But according to the CIA’s former Paris station chief Bill Murray, Ali, whose real name is Fereidoun Mahdavi, fabricated much of the information. “Mahdavi works for [Iranian arms dealer and intelligence fabricator Manucher] Ghorbanifar,” Murray told Laura Rozen of the American Prospect. “The two are inseparable. Ghorbanifar put Mahdavi out to meet with Weldon.”

In a similar vein, in a speech before the National Press Club in late 2005, neocon Raymond Tanter, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, recommended that the Bush administration use the MEK [the Mujahideen e-Khalq, the Marxist-Islamic urban guerrilla group of Iranian dissidents who had been designated as a terrorist organization by the United States] and its political arm, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), as an insurgent militia against Iran. “The NCRI and MEK are also a possible ally of the West in bringing about regime change in Tehran,” he said.

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