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The War Against the Terror Masters
By Michael Ledeen
St. Martin's Press
HC, 288 pgs. US$24.95
ISBN: 0-3123-0644-X

The Terror Masters

By Carol Devine-Molin
web posted December 23, 2002

The War Against The Terror Masters"The best way to think of the terror network is as a collection of mafia families. Sometimes they cooperate, sometimes they argue, sometimes they even kill one another. But they can always put aside their differences whenever there is a common enemy." This is just one of many pivotal insights conveyed by scholar Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute in his latest tome, The War Against The Terror Masters.

Since the September 11th attacks and the inception of US war activities, the American public has sought greater perspective and understanding of Islamic terrorism and its inner workings. Ledeen's book is a crash course on the emergence of Islamic fundamentalism over the past thirty five years and the establishment of its terror network that targets America, Israel and other western democracies. More specifically, the author provides cogent analysis of: a) the manner in which militant Islam is being financed and promulgated, b) why we were unprepared for terrorist strikes upon American soil, c) the current status of the "war on terrorism", and d) how the United States and its allies will ultimately prevail against these murderous thugs.

Certainly, it's widely recognized that the FBI, the CIA and other intelligence agencies were terribly inadequate during the run-up to 9/11, failing to perceive the notable threat posed by radical Islamists. And it has been echoed by many that the "intelligence breakdown" was precipitated by interagency rivalries that inhibited crucial information sharing, insufficient numbers of Arabic and Farsi speakers within the ranks of the intelligence community, the enactment of the "Torricelli Rule" (a directive to eschew contact with unsavory characters) that thoroughly undermined efforts to infiltration groups and organizations, and a general reluctance throughout the intelligence community to engage in old-fashioned spycraft and covert activities due to "political correctness."

But it was Ledeen who stands apart for his incisiveness on this particular point: "The intelligence community fought against the notion of a coherent terror network throughout 2001." Apparently, pre-September 11th, the extent of interaction and interdependence among the various terrorist organizations was not really appreciated. For instance, our "experts" thought that the Shi'ite Muslims would never cooperate with the Sunnis. Unfortunately, this type of limited thinking thwarted our intelligence services and prevented them from correctly evaluating the overall landscape. In effect, the US intelligence community harbored counterproductive attitudes, which undermined its ability to grasp the modus operandi of the "Terror Masters" -- how they interacted, how they operated. Actually, the leading terrorist organizations (al-Qaida, Hizbollah, Hamas, etc.) and state sponsors of terrorism (Iran, Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia) regularly aid and abet each other in the terror realm, as well. They are all in cahoots, acting in tandem so to speak, in efforts to pool resources, intelligence, and promote terrorist activities. Today, this dynamic is known and accepted by those in the intelligence community. And it's evident that al-Qaida receives many kinds of state sponsored assistance from the "Big Three" (Iran, Iraq and Syria), in addition to hefty amounts of money from Saudi Arabia, its financial guarantor. Iran created "the model" for transnational terrorism years ago, as the Ayatollah Khomeini regime readily formed alliances with any nation or group that could buttress his Hizbollah organization.

Interestingly, Ledeen notes that Clinton appointee John Deutch was less-than-trenchant as Director of the CIA, and inaccurately predicted in 1996 that "national security" concerns were becoming a thing of the past. Certainly, terrorism had decreased during the early to mid-1990's, but that was primarily because the Soviet Union was no longer around to sponsor and facilitate terrorist activities. In any event, the radical Islamists are now a significant force to contend with, and "Homeland Security" is of high priority. And John Deutch is long gone from the CIA, as is his carefree, clueless attitude. The CIA continues attempts to revamp and reinvent itself in response to emerging threats to our nation.

And Ledeen continues to underscore the larger assessment -- that terrorist groups cannot exist without the help of state sponsors. Therefore, these terror regimes must be brought down. Beyond monies and weaponry, terrorists depend upon cooperative nations to provide safe-haven and training camps, which are vital to their operations.

That said, Democratic politicos now out-and-about the media circuit claiming that we should be concentrating on al-Qaida, rather than shellacking Iraq, are clearly missing the point. We must do both. To reiterate, terrorism cannot exist without the support of state sponsors, so logic dictates that we must either persuade a rogue regime to mend its ways, or exert military force so that "regime change" takes place. Although often repeated, we have to drain the swamps (rogue nations) in order to get rid of the mosquitoes (the terrorists). These terror regimes will inevitably be dealt with one way or another, utilizing whatever strategies are deemed appropriate. My hunch is that liberating Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein will go a long way in convincing other despots to rid themselves of their terrorist connections.

In the case of Iran, Ledeen indicates that more than half of the population is under 25 years of age, and are eager for more freedom. In fact, the majority of the Iranian people are now reportedly fed up with the repressive government. Moreover, there have already been numerous insurrections and demonstrations, signaling that the mullahs are losing control and their days are coming to an end. Ledeen urges that America find ways to support those dissidents seeking the overthrow of the current Iranian regime.

Carol Devine-Molin is a regular contributor to several online magazines.

Buy Michael Ledeen's The War Against the Terror Masters at Amazon.com for only $17.47 (30% off)

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