The global terrorist enterprise headed by al-Qaeda's revamped leadership structure has developed a tiered strategy for terrorist attacks, each with different time horizons, different target objectives and different players from within the team to execute their plans.
First-tier attacks, like the September 11th attacks, have a long time horizon (measured in years), and are meant to cause catastrophic damage against human life and/or economic interests. The maritime threats I described a few weeks ago, which could easily incorporate WMD, are an example of that.
Second-tier attacks have time horizons measured in weeks or months (like the wave of attacks taking place in Iraq now), and are designed to simply create havoc and loss of innocent life (chaos terrorism vs. structural terrorism).
Third-tier attacks (nuisance terrorism) are planned at low levels by ad-hoc groups that affiliate with al-Qaeda cells and behave more like criminal gangs, but with al-Qaeda financing and philosophical overlay.
|The Iranians have clearly established supply routes into Iraq using al-Qaeda cells, like Ansar al-Islam's operations in the north and Shiite sympathizers in the south.|
I do not believe al-Qaeda has functional WMDs available to carry out a first or second-tier attack. Local terrorist groups which are today carrying out second and third-tier attacks in Iraq...are increasingly backed by Iran's intelligence services, Syria's pro-Hafiz al-Assad generals...and to a much lesser extent by the remnants of Saddam's Baathist enterprise inside Iraq.
It is highly unlikely that U.S. forces will encounter biological or chemical weapons in the present-day guerilla warfare because these types of weapons are hard to construct without sophisticated labs and are harder to handle for the long periods of time that it takes to secretly transport them from one venue to another. However, with Iran's enriched uranium program now up and running, and the resolve of Iran's fanatical mullahs to help drive the U.S. out of Iraq, it is not inconceivable that Iranian nuclear materials could be deployed in dirty bomb attacks (with Iranian plastic explosives being currently used in the homicide bombing missions) throughout southern Iraq first, and then possibly in and around Baghdad. The Iranians have clearly established supply routes into Iraq using al-Qaeda cells like Ansar al-Islam's operations in the north and Shiite sympathizers in the south. And don't believe a word of the Iranian pledges to open up facilities to nuclear inspections or shut down uranium enrichment facilities.
It is conceivable that key elements of biological and chemical weapons programs were transported out of Iraq, but probably not to the obvious countries in the local area (Syria, Sudan, Jordan, etc.). We know, for example, that officials in the U.S. Government have expressed serious concerns about what role Cuba may have played in assisting Saddam to take biological and chemical weapons laboratories and equipment out. To the extent that those efforts by Saddam were successful, Cuba, and other countries adverse to U.S. policies in the Western Hemisphere, could pose intermediate term threats to American citizens.
The types of terrorists that are planning and executing attacks in Iraq are inhuman, and incapable of living in peace. If we pulled out tomorrow, the rationale for continuing attacks would revert to the battle between Sunni Islam and Shiite Islam. If that were resolved, it would revert to tribal warfare, and so on. These are people who know nothing about peace and prosperity and want to die in jihad to meet their maker. We can never appease them, and we can never negotiate with them - period.
Mansoor Ijaz is a FOX News Channel foreign affairs and terrorism analyst and founder and chairman of The Crescent Partnerships, a series of New York-based private equity partnerships focused exclusively on the development of national security technologies. As a private American citizen, Ijaz negotiated Sudan’s counterterrorism offer to the Clinton administration in April 1997 and proposed the framework for a cease-fire of hostilities in Kashmir between Indian security forces and Muslim separatists in August 2000.