View Full Version : The Hour of the Knife

04-30-04, 06:15 AM

From the Editor:

The Hour of the Knife

By Ed Offley

Since the mainstream news media has all but ignored the story, I feel obligated to announce that the debate over whether or not Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction has probably ended. So too has apparently been resolved the long argument over whether or not Saddam Hussein’s Sunni population would work hand-in-hand with al Qaeda terrorists.

But this is not good news.

Lost in the inevitable mass coverage of the insurgent uprisings in Fallujah and Najaf this month were two terrorist incidents that should have dominated the news but which were largely overlooked or deliberately ignored by most major U.S news organizations. They both involve planned terrorist attacks involving chemical agents.

The first incident – which was not disclosed for several days – occurred in Jordan, where border security guards on March 31 intercepted a cargo truck coming from Syria. The vehicle, which had been altered so that it could allegedly ram through security barriers, was loaded with 20 tons of explosives and a still-unidentified chemical agent. One news organization, the Israeli-based website DebkaFile.com, has reported that the terrorists were a team of al Qaeda operatives and Hamas fighters under the control of al Qaeda operative Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is believed to be coordinating terrorist strikes against the coalition and Iraqi civilians inside Iraq.

British authorities broke up the second incident, potentially as lethal as the first, when they arrested five Muslim extremists in London on April 2. In that case, police and counter-terrorism agents seized more than a half a ton of ammonium nitrate explosive and an industrial chemical called osmium textroxide. While the chemical has a legitimate scientific use, it is highly destructive to peoples’ eyes, lungs and skin, experts warn. Released in a confined space, it can result in deaths.

In Jordan, the alleged plot was publicly confirmed this week on Tuesday by the televising of videotaped confessions from two of the captured terrorists, Azmi al-Jayousi – believed to be the chief of al Qaeda in Jordan – and Hussein Sharif Hussein, an auto mechanic who admitted altering several vehicles so that they could punch through security barriers before exploding.

Jayousi admitted meeting with Zarqawi in Afghanistan in 1999 – two years before the ouster of the Taliban regime in late 2001 – and later in Iraq. He said Zarqawi had given him $170,000 to finance the attacks by a ten-man team, four of whom were reportedly killed by Jordanian officials as they broke up the plot in a series of raids.

Hussein said Jayousi had told him they would be “carrying out the first suicide attack to be launched by al Qaeda using chemicals” and striking at Jordan and its royal family and “launching war on the Crusaders and nonbelievers.” Their targets reportedly included the U.S. Embassy, the Jordanian prime minister’s office and Jordanian intelligence headquarters. Other reports indicated the plotters were also targeting deluxe hotels and shopping centers.

The Jordanian bombing was to have been an act of revenge against Israel and its allies, Jordan and the United States, for Israel’s killing of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in the Gaza Strip on March 22, the terrorists said.

Fewer details have emerged from the London plot investigation, primarily because officials there are safeguarding evidence to use in trying the terrorists. It is not yet known whether the accused were an actual al Qaeda sleeper cell in the United Kingdom, or home-grown “wannabees” seeking to emulate al Qaeda strikes on their own.

But two inescapable conclusions jump out from the little-publicized incidents.

First, while the leadership of al Qaeda as it existed on 9/11 has largely been suppressed, the overall terror threat remains high because new leaders have taken over after their superiors were killed or arrested.

State Department counter-terrorism coordinator J. Cofer Black on Apr. 1 told a House International Relations subcommittee that while 70 percent of al Qaeda’s senior leaders have been killed or detained, and the 30 percent or more known terrorist leaders are on the run, “a new cadre of leaders” has emerged, complicating efforts to contain and roll back the network. Moreover, new terrorist groups only loosely connected with al Qaeda have appeared, striking targets in Casablanca, Istanbul and Madrid.

Second, while no government has yet officially confirmed it, there appears to be a strong likelihood that the Jordan plot involved Iraqi chemical agents that had been smuggled into Syria before the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. As The Wall Street Journal noted today, Gen. James R. Clapper Jr., the Pentagon’s satellite intelligence chief, said last fall there had been an unusual amount of vehicle traffic between Iraq and Syria in the days before the war began. DebkaFile.com quoted Jordanian sources as saying that the captured terrorists had admitted Syrian border guards had been instructed not to search their vehicles as they crossed the border into Iraq.

From the Jordan plot alone, we see a confluence of al Qaeda and former Iraqi officials in the ongoing insurgency, and the strong possibility that Iraqi WMD weapons not only exist, but also have fallen into the hands of terrorists with the complicity of the Syrian government.

From both the London and Jordanian plots, we see the reality that al Qaeda and its Islamo-fascist allies are still dedicated to terrorist attacks against the West and its Muslim allies using weapons of mass destruction.

Too bad the American news media is more interested in playing “gotcha” politics and covering Donald Trump, instead of making Americans better aware of the severe terrorism threat we still face.

It is 2½ years after 9/11, and it is still the hour of the knife.

Ed Offley is Editor of DefenseWatch. He can be reached at dweditor@yahoo.com. Please send Feedback responses to dwfeedback@yahoo.com. © 2004 Ed Offley.