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Al Qaeda and Hezbollah Plot a Dangerous Alliance
DefenseWatch ^ | 01-01-03 | Tom Knowlton

Posted on 01/01/2003 8:52:49 AM PST by Conservative News Hound

Al Qaeda and Hezbollah Plot a Dangerous Alliance

By Tom Knowlton

In an interview with The Sunday Times of London on Dec. 15, 2002, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat unwittingly provided the U.S.-led coalition against terrorism with a major insight into the evolving strategy of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network.

Arafat asked Times interviewer Marie Colvin, "Why is Bin Laden talking about Palestine now? Bin Laden never, not ever, stressed this issue. He never helped us. He was working in a completely different area and against our interests."

Arafat gave the interview after statements attributed to al Qaeda's "Political Office of Qaeda al-Jihad" were published on the Islamic extremist web sites and, claiming responsibility for November's bomb attacks on an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa, Kenya and an unsuccessful missile attack against an Israeli civilian airliner departing Mombasa for Tel Aviv. The statements also announced the launch of an "Islamic al Qaeda Organization in Palestine" that would "serve as a powerful basis for restoring the rights of our Arab and Islamic people in Palestine."

In today's world arena, Islamic terror leaders such as Arafat and bin Laden utilize false piety and "liberation" movements to attract disciples and mask their own personal aspirations for power. But it seems highly unlikely that these two megalomaniacs, who seem more comfortable performing in front of a camera than behind a gun, could ever amicably share the limelight of the Palestinian "cause."

There is little love lost between the two terror kingpins. Arafat and bin Laden are in fierce competition for the financial backing of Sunni Muslim extremists, a competition bin Laden has been steadily winning since Arafat's support of Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait and his signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 angered jihadist supporters in the Persian Gulf states.

Strategically, there is very little that either Arafat or bin Laden would substantively gain from an alliance. Aligning with bin Laden would only serve to further alienate Arafat and the Palestinian Authority from the United States. And while Palestinian terrorists have shown that they are willing to turn themselves into human bombs, they have not evidenced any of the sophistication and planning that has been the trademark of al Qaeda operations.

Many analysts feel that engaging in the Palestinian "cause" is an attempt by bin Laden to co-opt the movement away from the foundering Arafat and to solidify al Qaeda as a global front for Islamic action in Afghanistan, Kashmir, Chechnya and Israel.

However, Arafat's comments appear indicative of the fact that al Qaeda had not planned the Kenya attacks in coordination with, nor made any overtures to, any of the leading Sunni Muslim terrorist organizations engaged in attacks on Israel.

What appears most likely is that the entry of al Qaeda into the Palestinian fray is a byproduct of growing ties between al Qaeda and the Iranian and Syrian-backed Shiite terrorist organization Hezbollah.

Despite common foes, Sunni and Shiite Muslims are separated by a deep-seated, faith-based animosity and a history of cultural conflict that dates back to a 7th century religious schism in Islam. Hezbollah's close dealing with Sunni Palestinian terrorists has been a noticeable exception.

With a U.S.-Iraq war now becoming a near certainty, the Bush administration has actively courted Iranian cooperation (or at least neutrality), and turned a blind eye towards that rogue nation's own program to develop weapons of mass destruction. Iran has a far more advanced and dynamic nuclear program than its "axis of evil" counterparts, Iraq and North Korea, and an ongoing long-range missile program. However, Iran has not been the focus of military action or international isolation like its counterparts.

This "soft handling" has not gone unnoticed by hard-liners in Tehran and has translated into a proliferation in Hezbollah activity in Lebanon, Israel, Europe and South America. An alliance between Hezbollah and al Qaeda brings to the Intifadah (Palestinian uprising), a level of sophistication, planning, training and global reach that has been noticeable absent from Sunni Palestinian terrorism and significantly raises the operational tempo of terrorist forces arrayed against Israel.

More importantly to Hezbollah, the alliance provides the Shiite terrorist organization with a proxy by which to attack the United States. During this year's annual Jerusalem Day parade in Lebanon, the secretary general of Hezbollah, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, denounced what he perceived as the United States plan to "control the region, to redraw the political map of the region" and criticized the "dangerous and satanic goals" of the United States and Israel.

Clearly, Hezbollah's leadership sees the growing war on terrorism as the first major threat to the radical Islamic stranglehold on Lebanon since the withdrawal of American troops in the 1980s and Israeli troops in May 2000.

Conceivably, it would be in Hezbollah's interest to maintain the focus of the war on terrorism on Sunni extremists. They will likely seek to accomplish this task by putting aside ideological differences and assist in rejuvenating an al Qaeda network - severely hobbled by the loss of bases in Afghanistan - and its surviving financial, logistical and operational cells worldwide.

U.S. and Israeli intelligence sources believe that the guiding hand behind such an alliance would be Hezbollah's Imad Mugniyeh, the alleged mastermind behind the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine base in Beirut, Lebanon, and a key facilitator of Islamic terrorism worldwide.

An alliance with Hezbollah would provide al Qaeda with vital access to one of the world's most prolific drug production and smuggling networks, an ominous development for the United States and the West.

During his January 2002 State of the Union speech, President Bush identified Iran, Iraq and North Korea as rogue nations who constituted an "axis of evil" which provide terrorists "the means to match their hatred." The United States has effectively applied international pressure, the threat of military action, and the implementation of aggressive means of financial interdiction to stymie the flow of resources to al Qaeda from its state sponsors.

However, a network of drug production and smuggling controlled largely by Hezbollah may provide al Qaeda with the means necessary to continue its inhuman campaign against civilization. This network is centered on a transnational triangle of illicit activity conducted from areas of Lebanon, the Balkans, and the "tri-border region" of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.

All three regions have unstable, often corrupt, government structures with weak economic platforms. Their porous borders and largely unsupervised waterways and airfields are highly conducive to the conducting of illicit operations that go undetected.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah utilized the Bekaa Valley region to produce and smuggle opiates and hashish into Europe until international pressure prompted Syria to institute an aggressive counter-narcotics program in 1992. After the U.S. liberation of Afghanistan in 2001, Syria effectively ended its efforts to deter cultivation or to eradicate illicit cultivation.

A U.S. State Department report on drug trafficking released in early 2002 stated that "unlike in recent years, Syria did not use its influence in Lebanon to assist Lebanon in suppressing cannabis cultivation and harvesting in the Bekaa Valley." Moreover, the report identified that this fact "led to a sharp increase in hashish production in Lebanon," and estimated that over 4,010 hectares of land was being used for hashish production.

In the Balkans, a prolific drug-smuggling operation is being conducted along the "Balkan Road" running through the fluid borders of Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia. The "Balkan Road" is considered the doorway to Europe and North America and accounts for over 80 percent and 40 percent, respectively, of the continent's heroin trade.

On Sept. 17, 2002, a Debka-Net-Weekly report (Socialist-Albanian Election Win Leaves Macedonians in Pit of Despair) identified a 1,400-square-mile enclave in Macedonia running from Crna Gora and Sar Plan (near Tetovo) in the north to the divided lake districts of Ohrid and Pripsankso Ezero in the south that is controlled by Islamic drug lords aligned with Imad Mughniyeh. Western intelligence sources believe that Mughniyeh has long viewed the Balkans as the gateway to an Islamic conquest of Europe and utilized Albania and Kosovo as "the main base for Islamic armed action in Europe."

As in Afghanistan, the armed Islamic militants guarding this operation are former U.S. allies, primarily the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) - renamed the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) after the NATO-Serbian conflict in the spring of 1999 - and its Macedonian counterpart, the National Liberation Army (NLA), which both have a long history of smuggling drugs as a means of raising funds for weapons. According to the France-based Geopolitical Observatory of Drugs, the KLA was responsible for smuggling over $2 billion in drugs into Western Europe. Jane's Intelligence Review estimates that the KLA's profit from these ventures is in the "high tens of millions."

The "tri-border region" of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, has been identified by the U.S. State Department as "a focal point for Islamic extremism in Latin America" and represents a major hemispheric threat to the United States. Hezbollah has maintained an active and growing presence in the region and is believed responsible for at least two attacks in Buenos Aires; the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy and the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center.

The Latin American center of Hezbollah's narco-terrorism is the Paraguayan city of Ciudad del Este, under the operational command of successful businessman Assad Ahmad Barakat. Barakat's chief aide, Sobhi Mahmoud Fayad, was arrested in 1998 for an alleged conspiracy to bomb the U.S. embassy in Paraguay, and again in 2002 for alleged participation in a money-laundering ring.

Drug-trafficking routes through the tri-border region have brought Hezbollah into close contact with the powerful drug lords throughout the Andean region of Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. Virtually all of the world's cocaine production is conducted in these three countries and it is believed that collective synergies have been developed between Islamic terrorists and Latin American narco-terrorists such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and Peru's Shinning Path.

Ali Mohamed Mukhlis, a member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and closely linked to top al Qaeda lieutenant Ayman al Zawahiri, heralded an al Qaeda presence in the "tri-border" region when he was apprehended by Uruguayan authorities in 1999 in connection with a plot to bomb the U.S. Embassies in Paraguay and Uruguay. Authorities linked Mukhlis to an operational cell in Ciudad del Este.

The combination of illicit narcotics and terrorism is an alluring proposition for al Qaeda.

First, the financial windfall of the drug trade is highly lucrative. The Golden Crescent countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan, bin Laden's former lair of choice, are the world's largest producers of heroin, growing in excess of $50 billion in street value annually - over 70 percent of the world's heroin supply. The al Qaeda-Taliban regime had actually formalized the revenue-generating aspect of opium production in Afghanistan by imposing a ten percent zakat (tax) on all opium transactions.

Denied access to their former Afghan bases and with state sponsorship of terrorism aggressively scrutinized and financial institutions being closely monitored, drug trafficking presents a viable alternative form of financing for al Qaeda.

Second, there is a highly synergistic effect in an alliance between terrorists and drug lords. Traffickers and terrorists have parallel logistical needs in terms of weapons, fraudulent documents and the covert movement of operative, shipments and funds.

The smuggling routes through Lebanon, the Balkans and South America traverse highly volatile regions and face the increasing specter of government interdiction. Drug traffickers benefit from the military expertise and equipment that terrorist organizations are able wield in defense of these coveted routes

On March 13, 2002, Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Rand Beers provided testimony on the benefits to terrorists from this symbiotic relationship before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and Government Information.

Beers explained that not only do terrorists gain a source of revenue, but also equally important, they acquire a means of "illicit transfer and laundering of proceeds from illicit transactions." Moreover, the drug trade often ensnares corruptible officials who can provide access to fraudulent documents, including passports and customs papers.

Officials at the U.S. Immigration and Nationalization Service have expressed concern that a growing Islamic presence in Latin America may lead to ties with criminal organizations in Mexico that have proven highly successful in smuggling people and materials undetected into the United States.

Finally, al Qaeda would seek to strategically weaken Western society through the flooding of North America and Europe with illicit drugs.

Western analysts believe that Hezbollah, which receives significant amounts of overt military and financial aid from Iran and Syria, is involved in drug trafficking predominantly for the purpose of the facilitating the fall of the West through drug addiction.

Osama bin Laden has on several occasions advocated the use of opiates to weaken the West. It is this strategy that wreaked havoc on the Soviet military during the Soviet-Afghan War and strongly contributed to their defeat.

By the end of the Soviet-Afghan War in February 1989, the Afghan guerilla groups were producing more heroin than major illicit drug producers Iran and Pakistan combined. The result was a flooding of the Soviet Union and Europe with high quality, low-cost narcotics. Soviet Afghan War veteran Lt. Col. Yuri Shvedov claimed the Soviets had found significant evidence that this was the product of a "systematic program." Rampant drug addiction in the Soviet forces in Afghanistan translated into a dramatic drop in morale and operational efficiency that later led to a crippling drug problem within the Soviet Union itself.

The mounting evidence of an al Qaeda-Hezbollah alliance should be of paramount concern to the Bush administration. The synergies created by the alliance will significantly raise the operational capabilities of terrorist forces and infuse bin Laden's global terror cooperative with crucial funding. Already in the fall of 2002 we have seen the reemergence of a reinvigorated al Qaeda manifested in attacks in Indonesia, Kuwait, Yemen and Kenya.

The lines between traditional terrorism and drug trafficking are becoming increasingly blurred, signaling a possible convergence of the drug war and the war on terrorism. Islamic terrorists are forming symbiotic relationships with narcotics traffickers in urban and quasi-urban regions in the Third World such as Lebanon, the Balkans and Latin America, where Western governments have been traditionally reluctant to enter into military action.

As retired Vice Adm. Arthur Cebrowski pointed out during an interview with The Navy Times on Nov. 12, 2002, by not engaging terrorists in these regions we are "essentially providing them with sanctuary, which is unacceptable."

TOPICS: Announcements; Breaking News; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Free Republic; Front Page News; Government; Mexico; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: albania; alqaeda; argentina; balkans; brazil; campaignfinance; hezbollah; hizbollah; imadmugniyeh; lebanon; macedonia; mugniyeh; paraguay; syria; terrorism; triborder
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All the more reason for us to take the fight to Syria and free Lebanon from Assad! We've late Hezbollah skate for too long. I think a day of reckoning for the Beirut Marine bombing should be on the top of the top of teh list of the Bush Administrations New Year's resolutions!
1 posted on 01/01/2003 8:52:49 AM PST by Conservative News Hound
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To: Conservative News Hound
Who thinks action will first take place in Syria/Lebanon/Iran before - and if - action is taken in Iraq?

Quite a grand illusion could be in the making.

2 posted on 01/01/2003 9:00:12 AM PST by Principled
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To: Conservative News Hound
Hezbollah may be Iranian backed, but they are Syrian controlled. Guess who the head of the UN Security Council is this cycle?
3 posted on 01/01/2003 9:18:11 AM PST by cardinal4
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To: Conservative News Hound
Lebanon DEFINITELY needs to be reckoned with. This article states nothing but the obvious, but it does need to be stated. Often. For too long the media has protected and enabled terrorists by being their propaganda mouthpiece.

Yasser DOES have something to gain by allying with Binny - or Binny's successor: many of his own terrorists are members of al Qaeda as well as the PLO, Hezballah, al Aksa, etc. His potential enemies are WITHIN his own regime. If Yasser doesn't do what al Qaeda wants him to do, all al Qaeda has to do is give the word to it's operatives: instant Pali "uprising" against Yasser's regime. Yasser, being a coward like all terrorist dictators, has to be fully aware of this fact.

Conversely, Yasser stands to lose if he allies with al Qaeda: American pounding of him in the process of pounding al Qaeda in the PA territores and HAS to go hand in hand. No sense in pounding Pali terrorists if we don't simultaneously pound Lebanon, because the Palis will just run for Lebanon, which will continue to protect them.

Yasser's obvious solution to this little problem: insist in public his terrorist regime has no ties to al Qaeda, while SECRETLY allying with them..or just giving them the nod and letting them continue to operate in his territories.

Yasser knows this solution will work: look at all the public support he gained by insisteng he wants peace with Israel, that Israel is the aggressor and denouncing Pali murder of innocent civilians...while encouraging it and having his state controlled media constantly telling Palis that there ARE no innocent Israelis, so kill them all. Heck, some idiots are even convinced the PA isn't a terrorist organization. Al Qaeda is most definitely NOT working against Pali terrorist interests: one of it's stated goals, like Yasser's stated goal, is the annihlation of the state of Israel, and the birth (for the first time in history) of a state of Palestine. Yasser hates America too...he's just too cowardly and small minded to attack us openly yet.

4 posted on 01/01/2003 9:32:45 AM PST by cake_crumb
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To: cardinal4
"Hezbollah may be Iranian backed, but they are Syrian controlled. Guess who the head of the UN Security Council is this cycle?"

Exactly. Anyone who honestly believed that Syria would act in the best interests of ANYONE but Syria's terrorist-enabling regime is a totol idiot.

5 posted on 01/01/2003 9:43:27 AM PST by cake_crumb
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To: Conservative News Hound
What kind of a story is this? The title doesn't match the contents.

A complete waste of time.

6 posted on 01/01/2003 9:44:39 AM PST by robertpaulsen
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To: robertpaulsen
I am interested in hearing more about al Qaeda using Hezbollah drug havens in Albania/Macedonia and the tri-border region
7 posted on 01/01/2003 10:58:52 AM PST by Conservative News Hound
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To: Conservative News Hound
The mounting evidence of an al Qaeda-Hezbollah alliance should be of paramount concern to the Bush administration.

I believe that the Arabs will work hard to create unity among various terrorist factions. In fact, I believe it is their first priority. Attacks on US may not come this year or next, until the Islamofascists gain majorities in all Muslim countries, at which point they will think they're unstoppable.

The core of the terrorist movement is, in my opinion, the Saudi princes' will to world financial domination.

8 posted on 01/01/2003 2:34:12 PM PST by PoisedWoman
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To: Conservative News Hound
A personal note on Lebanon drug growing: A prominent, wealthy American Lebanese Druze family I know (they endow hospitals, etc.), would like nothing more than to see drugs legalized here so they can clean up the profits. Legally. I won't even venture a guess about any connection to terrorists, but another ME friend says that the Druze are well-known for doing anything and everything for money.

As noted above, I think the entire Islamofascist movement is about financial domination. Allah is just a convenient ploy to enlist stupid muslims in the terrorist cause.
9 posted on 01/01/2003 2:43:25 PM PST by PoisedWoman
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To: Conservative News Hound; Destro
CNH in #7: I am interested in hearing more about al Qaeda using Hezbollah drug havens in Albania/Macedonia and the tri-border region


Way back when...there was a FR link with a series of threads about this. I think it was entitled Bin Ladin Gate.

I can't find the link in my notes. Do you remember what I'm talking about?

10 posted on 01/01/2003 3:28:21 PM PST by Lion's Cub
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To: Lion's Cub
11 posted on 01/01/2003 3:32:56 PM PST by Destro
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To: Conservative News Hound; Principled; cardinal4; cake_crumb; robertpaulsen; PoisedWoman; ...
Argentina's Menem, who has ties to Syria (who back Hezbollah) had been asked by the Clinton Administration to break the UN embargo for the Former Yugoslavia in support of covert American operations on behalf of the Bosnian Muslims. The operation ran weapons mostly of Iranian origin through Croatia to the Bosnian Muslims who are allied with al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups like Iranian and Syrian backed Hezbollah. Croatia (an old WW2 Nazi ally to the Peronistas) kept a percentage of the smuggled weapons as a transit fee. It seems the jihadis (at around this time the Indian govt. reported an alliance had been brokered between al-Qaeda, Iran, Hezbollah and other jihadist groups) used the Argentine arms smuggling network to do what it does best, it used access to Argentina to carry out terror attacks that fell on Argentinian Jews. The Argentinian bombings remain unsolved.

Argentina's Menem to be freed in arms case (Clinton used him to smuggle arms to Bosnian Muslims)

This week, Menem, who was placed under house arrest because he is 70, was supposed to be honeymooning in his parents' native Syria with his second wife, Cecilia Bolocco.

In statements last weekend, Menem seemed to indicate that if such a deal had happened with Croatia, it happened with the knowledge of the State Department. A Washington Post article in 1996 outlined U.S. knowledge of arms smuggling to Croatia from countries that included Argentina. However, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher denied Monday that Washington had prior knowledge or gave support to any Argentine weapons deal with Croatia.

12 posted on 01/01/2003 3:58:10 PM PST by Destro
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To: Incorrigible; TopQuark
13 posted on 01/01/2003 4:00:45 PM PST by Destro
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To: PoisedWoman
>>The core of the terrorist movement is, in my opinion, the Saudi princes' will to world financial domination.

Cut off the head of the snake! Remember that? What happened? /rhetorical....
14 posted on 01/01/2003 4:06:57 PM PST by swarthyguy
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To: swarthyguy
Always remember this from November 2002:

Statement Warns of More Attacks (Stop support for Israel, Russia, and convert to Islam or else) Yahoo! ^ | Nov. 16, 2002 | ALAA SHAHINE

Posted on 11/16/2002 9:15 PM CST by Michael2001

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - A statement attributed to al-Qaida threatened more attacks in New York and Washington unless America stops supporting Israel and converts to Islam, an Arab TV reporter who received the unsigned document said Saturday.

Yosri Fouda, correspondent for the satellite station Al-Jazeera, told The Associated Press he received the six-page document on Wednesday. That was a day after the TV station broadcast an audiotape purportedly made by Osama bin Laden (news - web sites).

Fouda, who is known for good contacts within al-Qaida, would only say that the statement came from his sources with the group. But he insisted he was certain it came from the terrorist movement's leadership.

Fouda, speaking by telephone from London, said the statement called on Americans to stop supporting Israel and other governments that "oppress" Muslims or face more attacks. The statement also called on Americans to convert to Islam, he said.

Fouda quoted the statement as saying: "Stop your support for Israel against the Palestinians, for Russians against the Chechens ... for corrupt leaders in our countries ... (and) leave us alone or expect us in Washington and New York."

He added the statement demanded U.S. troops leave the Arabian Peninsula, and justified the killings of American civilians because they pay taxes that finance military operations.

There was no immediate reaction from Washington. No officials were available for comment at the Pentagon (news - web sites) or the National Security Council Saturday afternoon. A report on the statement as described by Fouda was carried in The Sunday Times of London.

Fouda is a prominent Arab television journalist who has broken several important stories about al-Qaida. In September, Al-Jazeera broadcast Fouda's interviews with two top al-Qaida operatives hiding in Pakistan, Ramzi Binalshibh and Khaled Sheik Mohammed.

Binalshibh was arrested in Karachi, Pakistan, shortly after the broadcast and was transferred to U.S. custody.

Fouda said the statement also referred to the crisis between the United States and Iraq as one more reason to attack Americans.

"You are placing Muslims under siege in Iraq, where children die every day. Oh, how weird that you don't care for 1.5 million Iraqi children who died under siege, but when 3,000 of your compatriots died, the whole world was shaken," Fouda quoted the statement as saying.


15 posted on 01/01/2003 4:41:55 PM PST by TexKat
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To: cardinal4
"Damascus shall no longer be a city.."
16 posted on 01/01/2003 6:04:38 PM PST by sheik yerbouty
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To: Destro
Thank you--that thread has some great links--but I guess I got it confused with some threads from the time of the war. We must not have indexed them into a group. I remember people pointing out things like the KLA drug running at the time we were bombing Serbia.
17 posted on 01/01/2003 6:30:00 PM PST by Lion's Cub
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To: Lion's Cub; Destro
Here’s one.
18 posted on 01/02/2003 6:35:51 AM PST by Gael
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To: Lion's Cub; Destro
Here’s another.
19 posted on 01/02/2003 7:07:48 AM PST by Gael
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To: Principled
Quite a grand illusion could be in the making.

I concur.

Right now and for many years the power and politics of the Middle East has been in stasis, though with a distinct momentum toward the Islamists.

The removal of Saddam will (predictably) upset the status quo and power balances of the entire region, which I believe is the main purpose (e.g., the Saudi dominance in oil, financing of terrorism and "martyrdom", the slide of Iran to a more democratic government).

Arabs correctly see the removal of Saddam as a move to disrupt the entire region. But the reason for disrupting their status quo is primarily to stop the Islamists.

As Christopher Hitchens notes, a side benefit of removing Saddam is that it will wipe the smirk off of Saudi faces.

20 posted on 01/02/2003 8:43:12 AM PST by angkor
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