Sunday, July 30, 2006

Judgment Day

Yehudit Barsky,
With the international community focused on Iran's quest to develop nuclear weapons, little attention has been paid to Tehran's preparations for a possible showdown with America and its allies. For more than a year, Iran has been preparing, together with terror organizations it controls and finances, for a confrontation code-named "Al-Qiyamah," which is Arabic for "Judgment Day." Hizbullah's unprovoked war against Israel may well be the first step in this Iranian-inspired conflict.

Leading this war effort is Brigadier General, Qassam Sulaymani, who heads the Al-Quds "Jerusalem" Force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards. Based in Tehran, the Al-Quds Force is considered responsible for having trained thousands of operatives from Hizbullah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Now Sulaymani has been tasked with coordinating and providing logistical support to the terror organizations that will execute Iran's plans for a confrontation. The plan reportedly includes suicide bombing attacks on America and British targets in the Middle East, as well as on Arab and Muslim countries allied with the West. READ MORE

Participants in Iran's "Judgment Day" plans include Hizbullah in Lebanon, Hizbullah cells in Europe, North America, the Persian Gulf region, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the leaders of Iraq's insurgency, and the Mahdi Army of Iraq's Muqtada Al-Sadr. Iran's Revolutionary Guards also have reportedly invited operatives from the Mahdi Army to be trained in Iran and have increased its funding to Al-Sadr to over $20 million.

Although Hizbullah is identified as a Lebanese terrorist organization, it was originally created in Iran following the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Representatives of Iran's Revolutionary Guards were sent to create Hizbullah cells in Lebanon and other countries with large Shi'a populations, including Western countries.

Mojtaba Bigdeli, a spokesman for Hizbullah in Iran, recently threatened to carry out attacks globally. "We have 2,000 volunteers who have registered since last year. They have been trained and they can become fully armed. We are ready to dispatch them to every corner of the world, to jeopardize Israel and America's interests," said Bigdeli. "We are only waiting for the Supreme Leader's green light to take action. If America wants to ignite World War Three ... we welcome it."

Meanwhile, Iran has accelerated its supply of arms to Hizbullah during the past few months, sending rockets, missiles, explosives and guided missiles to the terror group's bases in Lebanon. Hizbullah's arsenal of artillery today ranges from the relatively small Katyusha rockets which carry an 18-pound warhead packed with high explosives, Arash rockets which carry 40 pounds of explosives, to the Fajr 3 "Dawn" missile which carries 100 pounds of explosives, the Fajr 5 missile, which carries 200 pounds of explosives, and the Zilzal 2 "Earthquake" missile, with a warhead of more than 1300 pounds. Hizbullah also has been equipped with four types of surface-to-surface missiles.

More than 3,000 Hizbullah operatives went to Iran to be trained in military tactics, including guerrilla warfare, firing missiles and artillery, the operation of unmanned aerial drones, conventional warfare and marine warfare. Iran's outfitting of Hizbullah with military grade weapons over the past six years has transformed it into a militarized terror organization with offensive capabilities resembling that of a state. In tandem with its continued efforts to push for the legitimacy of its nuclear weapons program on the diplomatic front, Iran has been open about its support for Hizbullah. In a recent interview with the Arabic daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, an Iranian official stated: "Hizbullah is part of us and does not need guarantees to be certain the Islamic Republic is with it. We are standing with the Party, in spirit and physically, militarily and financially."

Iran has bluntly expressed its intentions toward America and Israel. In a military parade held in September 2005, during "Sacred Defense Week," Iran flaunted the latest versions of ballistic missiles produced by its military including the Zilzal 1 and 2. The namesake of this missile is a verse in the Qur'an that tells of the final earthquake that precipitates Judgment Day. The missiles were emblazoned with the slogans: "We will trample America under our feet," "Israel should be wiped off the map," "Death to America," and "Death to Israel.".

Based on Iran's public statements and Hizbullah's opening salvo of rockets and missiles over Israel's northern border, this appears to be only the beginning of Iran's "Judgment Day" plans. We would be wise to take them at their word.

Ms. Barsky is the director of the Division on Middle East and International Terrorism at the American Jewish Committee.