Conquest Through Sabotage
Do you realize what is truly happening in Iraq today? Are you able to discern how pivotal, how monumental, this moment in Middle East history really is? Most people are not, though the daily news is filled with information about it.
Iraq is exploding in a sequence of events that is dramatically accelerating two of the pillar prophecies signalling the end of our present civilization.
One relates to the U.S., which after a year is still embroiled in an unexpected revolt in the country it seeks to rebuild. The other relates to Iran, which is shrewdly working to ensure that Iraq becomes an Islamic state cast in its own image.
Trumpet readers have been warned repeatedly over the last 14 years that events in this volatile region would take roughly this kind of shape.
Today, news and intelligence outlets are crackling with reports vindicating these warnings.
The evidence is undeniable: Iran is the number-one obstacle to stability in Iraq. As the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq continues to grapple with an expanding guerrilla insurgency, proof of Iran’s responsibility for this plague—of its aggressive and covert meddling—is surfacing daily.
At the same time, Iran has just suffered a political earthquake that crippled its moderates and strengthened its stern Islamic hard-liners (see p. 4). It is bucking pressure over its nuclear activities, sheltering outlaws and hosting terrorist conferences. It is proving itself the most dangerous state in the Mideast—and, short-term, in the world.
For several reasons, Iran should be condemned and reviled by the U.S., and friendless in the world.
But, amazingly, its position and its power among nations—even the U.S.—is the strongest it has been in modern history and only continues to increase. Why?
Do you understand how enormously dangerous this state of affairs is? Bible prophecy indicates that what we are witnessing is essentially the cocking of the gun that will trigger a nuclear World War iii!
America’s Compromised Position
It was a sickening symbol of where the campaign in Iraq has come to: In April, to help negotiate a resolution to a clash with Shiites in Iraq, the U.S. called on the help of an Iranian envoy.
Let’s trace the steps over the past year that led to this shocking development.
From the time of Saddam Hussein’s fall last April until recently, the U.S. was battling mostly Sunni insurgents while Iraq’s Shiites remained relatively cooperative. This kept the situation containable; however, with operations continuing in Afghanistan and other areas, America’s troops have been stretched thin. Frankly, Washington’s strategy for stabilizing Iraq depended on Shiite cooperation.
For several months, the Trumpet has followed the unsteady development of a behind-the-scenes agreement between the United States and Iran (see the November 2003 and February 2004 issues). The gist of it is, in exchange for preventing a Shiite uprising, the Iranian-influenced Iraqi Shiites would be permitted to dominate the new Iraqi government. Naturally, any relationship between “the Great Satan” and a member of the “axis of evil” is bound to be uncomfortable. Nevertheless, in international relations, principle often gives way to politics.
Trouble is, shady business deals come with unpleasant, long-term costs. Witness the awkward truth that the United States once supported Osama bin Laden (to help rid the Soviet Union from Afghanistan) and Saddam Hussein (against Iran)—relationships that came with a heavy backlash.
In this latest deal with Iran, it looks like some of the chickens already may be coming home to roost.
The U.S. is certainly not eager to see an Iran-friendly, Shiite government in Iraq. Thus, when it appeared to be getting a handle on Sunni resistance, it began talking about a more broad-based Iraqi government that would include Shia, Sunnis and Kurds, as well as representatives of other, smaller ethnic groups.
To the Shiites, this was America going back on its word. Iraq’s most prominent Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, pushed for direct elections (which would explicitly favor Iraq’s 60 percent Shiite majority population). The U.S. said no. The Shiites decided it was time to remind the U.S. why it needed to make the deal in the first place.
Thus, in April, the situation exploded.
Violence escalated in Fallujah, Iraq’s most resistant Sunni city. Roughly simultaneously, and much more significantly, tensions with Muqtada al-Sadr, an Iraqi Shiite cleric, boiled over. The radical, Iranian-supported Sadr called on his angry followers (including his armed militia, the “Mahdi army”), which numbered in the tens of thousands and were rapidly growing, to “terrorize your enemy”—the U.S.
Suddenly, it seemed, America was facing the nightmare it had sought all along to avoid: a two-front war with both Sunnis and Shiites. Some analysts wondered if the two groups had planned the uprising together. Signs did emerge of the two fronts coalescing, with Shiites getting behind the Fallujah resistance and Sunnis voicing their support for Sadr. It was also speculated that Sistani had used the fanatical Sadr to send Washington a message.
Within days, U.S. forces decided they were in over their heads. For the first time since entering Iraq, they sought a truce with the guerrillas. Washington pulled American troops back in order to facilitate negotiations with the various Sunni and Shiite factions.
And in the midst of these talks, an Iranian envoy, Foreign Ministry Director General for Persian Gulf Affairs Hossein Sadeqi, was called in to help.
It was a crucial, and deeply revealing, moment.
The Trumpet’s primary purpose is to provide advance warning of where current events are leading based on the “more sure word of prophecy” provided in the Bible (2 Pet. 1:19). In the thicket of information about world affairs, among the various seemingly contradictory trends that can appear in a single moment, this biblical perspective gives our readers a compass—an ability to discern true north.
Longtime Trumpet readers will be the first to recognize the real significance of Iran’s creeping influence in Iraq.
Based on prayerful study and comparison of several relevant Bible passages, the Trumpet’s editor in chief, Gerald Flurry, almost 12 years ago pointed to Iran as being most likely to fulfill the end-time role described by the Prophet Daniel as “the king of the south.”
Study Daniel 11:40 through Daniel 12:13: This “king” has a pushy foreign policy that will provoke another, even more powerful “king” into a devastating war that escalates into nuclear world war. The king of the south plays a colossal part in end-time events, so it is vital that God reveal that king’s identity (Amos 3:7).
Evidence within Psalm 83 points to the strong probability of Iraq being allied with Iran in this role. (Read our free booklet The King of South to understand the basis for these conclusions.) Thus, seeing Iraq progressively hobbled by post-Gulf War sanctions, Mr. Flurry deduced that there would be some sort of takeover of Iraq by Iran. His December 1994 Personal, “Is Iraq About to Fall to Iran?”, mulled this probability. “The [Shiites] compose the majority of the population in Iraq,” he wrote. “The Shiite Iraqis have been encouraged to revolt by Iran, which is almost totally Shiite. … Can you imagine the power [the Iranians] would have if they gained control of Iraq, the second-largest oil-producing country in the world? If so, there seems to be little doubt that Iran would lead the king of the south (Dan. 11:40).”
Other prophecies the Trumpet has repeatedly highlighted reveal the fate of the United States in these last days. The Bible portrays a nation possessing power and strength but whose pride in that power will be broken and whose strength will be spent in vain (Lev. 26:19-20)—a cursed condition that presages its eventual downfall. Our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy provides a thorough biblical exposition of what awaits the U.S.
These prophecies have hammer-blow impact when viewed side-by-side with the facts on the ground in Iraq today.
Iran’s Long-Planned Assault
The reality is becoming plain that events in Iraq are fundamentally proceeding according to Iran’s plan.
Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was Iran’s chief enemy in the region—but the majority Shiite population suffering under his oppressive rule was sympathetic to the Iranians. And so—despite the fact that Iran’s mullahs have never been friends of the U.S.—when Hussein was eliminated last spring, an opportunity emerged.
Facts now coming to the surface demonstrate the comprehensive, far-reaching strategic plan Iran has enacted in an effort to mold post-Saddam Iraq into a second Iran. In fact, though these efforts multiplied the moment Saddam’s statue fell in Baghdad’s Firdos Square, the conspiracy to take over Iraq had been devised in the shadows for years beforehand.
Senior fellow Constantine Menges of the Hudson Institute issued a report on April 14 detailing the plan. “Following the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, the Iranian clerical dictatorship has mounted a covert effort to establish an allied Shia Islamist extremist regime in Iraq,” he wrote. “Iran has been preparing to do this for many years and has recruited political, military and covert agent assets among the hundreds of thousands of Shia Iraqis who fled Iraq and have lived in Iran for years.”
The former Iranian intelligence official in charge of activities in Iraq, who defected from Iran late last year, confirmed these facts. In an interview with the London Arabic newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (April 3), Haj Saidi gave a detailed, hair-raising account of the extent of Iran’s penetration. He said that Iranian intelligence agents of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the al-Quds Army, including many Iraqi refugees from the past 30 years, infiltrated back into Iraq long before the war—to the point where “the Iranian presence in Iraq is not limited to the Shiite cities. Rather, it is spread throughout Iraq, from Zakho in the north to Umm al-Qasr in the south ….” Saddam’s fall only made the infiltration easier: “After the war, the Iranian intelligence sent its agents through the uncontrolled Iraq-Iran border; some of them as students and clerics, and others as belonging to the Shiite militias” (as translated by memri, the Middle East Media Research Institute, April 9). To facilitate their activities, these agents had about 2,700 apartments and rooms to use in 14 Iraqi cities.
What did these spies do?
Iran has implemented its strategy covertly and overtly on several fronts. It has used Iraqi Shiite clerics to sway their followers to Iran’s causes. It has established as a political party the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and created an attendant paramilitary group (which currently numbers around 30,000).
It has also bought off Iraq’s radio and television airwaves. Iran is now the source of fully 74 of the 100am, fm and television broadcasts heard in Iraq (by contrast, the U.S.-supported Iraq Media Network broadcasts on one tv station and two radio stations). Haj Saidi says these media outlets employ over 300 reporters and technicians who are members of the al-Quds Army and the Revolutionary Guards Intelligence units.
Iran has flooded Iraq with Hezbollah agents to recruit for future terrorist attacks against the U.S. and worked with Hamas agents for the same purpose. Haj Saidi disclosed that Iranian intelligence is operating at least 18 Shiite charities in Iraq which, under the pretense of offering medicine, food and clothing for the poor, are recruiting new spies and stirring broad support to launch a nationwide revolt. Another source, a member of the al-Quds Army known in Iraq as “Abu Hayder,” says al-Quds and the Revolutionary Guard Intelligence are responsible for many of the attacks on coalition forces (memri, April 9).
In addition, Iran has sponsored and cooperated with a swarm of other Shiite terrorist groups to intimidate the leadership within Iraq’s Shiite community into complying with Iran’s wishes. When Iraqi Shiite cleric Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim was assassinated last August, Mr. Flurry pieced together that the act was likely directed from Iran because of Hakim’s willingness to work with U.S. forces. In April, Haj Saidi and Abu Hayder both confirmed that the murder had in fact been carried out by the al-Quds Army because of Hakim’s opposition to the concept of “the Rule of the Jurist”—that is, Ayatollah Khomeini’s style of government. Hakim’s assassination was simply the most prominent example of this policy of intimidation. (Read the related story on page 1 of this issue.)
Menges says Muqtada al-Sadr, who has close ties to both the Revolutionary Guards and the al-Quds Army, has been used as the point man in Iraq for these activities: “Iran is working covertly with Iraqi extremist Muqtada al-Sadr to use political and coercive means, including murder, to intimidate and take over Shiite leadership in Iraq. The murders of several prominent Shiite clerical leaders who favored democracy and cooperation with the coalition repeats Iran’s covert actions in post-Taliban Afghanistan, where a number of moderate Muslim clerics also were killed” (op. cit.).
To thicken the soup of intrigue, Sadr is also on close terms with former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani, who now leads Iran’s Expediency Council. During a recent visit to Iran, he met with Rafsanjani, as well as the al-Quds Army leader, the Revolutionary Guard leader, and other government officials and religious leaders.
Iran has gone so far as to construct and operate three training camps on the Iran-Iraq border for Sadr’s Mehdi army, according to Abu Hayder. memri paraphrased London’s Al-Sharq Al-Awsat as saying, “[Hayder] estimated that about 800-1,200 young supporters of al-Sadr have received military training including guerilla warfare, the production of bombs and explosives, the use of small arms, reconnoitering and espionage” (op. cit.).
All in all, Iran is spending about $70 million per month on its pet project in Iraq. More than $80 million has gone to Sadr alone, not counting the cost of training and equipping his followers.
This is what is truly behind the ruckus created by Sadr’s recent incitement of Iraq’s Shiites to violence. This is no small problem that will go away when the U.S. tries to turn over control of Iraq on June 30. It’s only a hint of a colossal nightmare that is about to get about 100 times worse.
The Italian Military Intelligence Service (Sismi) has come to this very conclusion—that, in the words of the Wall Street Journal, “the war being waged by Shiite militants throughout Iraq is not just a domestic ‘insurgency,’ but rather a coordinated, planned assault among local factions tied to an Iran-based ayatollah, Kazem al-Haeri” (April 16, emphasis mine throughout). Grasp this! Haeri appointed Sadr as his deputy in Iraq last year. He is also a close ally of the Ayatollah Khamenei. In other words, Haeri is the link between Sadr and the highest levels of the Iranian government.
The Wall Street Journal continued, “The strategic goal of this revolt, says Sismi, was ‘the establishment of an Islamic government of Khomeinist inspiration.’”
And, just as Iran can turn on the tap of violence in order to pressure the U.S., it can turn it off at a moment of its choosing. When the Iranian envoy came to Iraq last month, Sadr yielded to the negotiations and, in the process, also recognized Sistani’s leadership. The level of coordination between Sistani and Sadr is unknown, but in a very real sense it does not matter. Sistani too has clear ties to Iran (he was born and brought up in Iran, and most of his charitable and religious activities are based there).
Iran is orchestrating the whole thing.
But why isn’t Washington speaking out? “[T]he State Department still doesn’t believe—or won’t admit publicly—that there’s a connection between Sadr’s uprising and Iran’s mullahs,” concluded the Wall Street Journal (ibid.). “Just last week, State’s deputy spokesman, Adam Ereli, told reporters that ‘We’ve seen reports of Iranian involvement, collusion, provocation, coordination, etc., etc. But I think there’s a dearth of hard facts to back these things up.’”
A dearth of hard facts?
Washington may issue some occasional tough-sounding talk against Iran. But watch its deeds. Contrast its handling of this “axis of evil” member with its handling of the last one. Its silence over what is really happening in Iraq is a deafening sign of just how compromised its position is.
When Saddam fell, Iran rejoiced—and pounced. Now, a year later, we can see more clearly how precisely their long-held strategy for reshaping Iraq is working out to their advantage. Using Iraq’s Shiites as leverage, Iran is holding the U.S. to heel. It is growing in strength and in confidence.
It is, in fact, reasserting an old pattern in its foreign policy: That of the calculatedpush.
Iran’s Nukes—America’s Response
Once you recognize the tremendous advantage Iran’s hard-liners have over the U.S., it becomes much more clear why they have been so brash lately regarding their nuclear activities—and why America’s response has been so weak.
Several damning allegations and reports have surfaced over the past year, raising the concern of not just the United States, but also Europe, the United Nations and the UN atomic watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (iaea). Iran’s conservatives relented, agreeing last November with Britain, France and Germany to open their nuclear facilities to international scrutiny.
But then in February came two bombshells. First was the revelation that Abdul Qadeer Khan, founder of Pakistan’s successful and highly publicized nuclear program, had sold nuclear secrets and technology to Iran, among other countries. Then came the iaea’s announcement that it had found evidence of Iran’s efforts to develop an advanced p-2 centrifuge that can enrich uranium to bomb-grade levels; it also found traces of highly enriched uranium at two of its nuclear facilities, polonium (a radioactive element used to trigger a nuclear bomb), and an experimental program to make an isotope used primarily in manufacturing nuclear weapons.
It was clear evidence of evasion and deception on Iran’s part—a perfect moment for the U.S. to get tough. But what did Washington do instead? It responded by saying it had “serious concerns.”
Stratfor wrote, “Washington’s light attitude is a far cry from the previously bellicose stance against a nation Bush at one time declared part of the ‘axis of evil.’ If the United States was really interested in doing so, with the new evidence in hand it could easily push for the iaea to take Iran before the UN Security Council, where it could face sanctions. There have been no efforts in this direction” (February 20).
Washington did push for a condemnatory statement from the iaea, but the moment it was issued, Iran balked on its earlier agreement and refused to allow inspectors into the country. Meanwhile, Iran’s foreign minister announced that Tehran would resume enriching uranium as soon as the issue with the iaea was resolved.
For a country under so much scrutiny and with so much to hide, Iran has been pretty bold. One can’t help but conclude that they must have good reason to feel confident the United States doesn’t pose much of a threat.
Roughly concurrent with these events has been a series of announcements coming out of Iran publicizing its ongoing military and trade ventures. The Islamic regime is charging ahead with plans to boost its clout within the region and beyond, and many countries are unalarmed and willing to help.
If Washington dislikes these developments, its doubts are being ignored. But indications are, in some cases, that it is giving its tacit approval.
In January, Iran’s defense minister declared that Iran would launch its own satellite, using its own booster technology, within 18 months. “Iran will be the first Islamic country to enter the stratosphere with its own satellite and its own, indigenous launch system,” Iran’s official news agency, irna, quoted him as saying (January 5).
Notice it: These are the words of a country with ambition. Pakistan beat it to the claim of being the “first Islamic country” with nuclear weapons. But Iran does not want to lose additionally the Islamic space race. Why? As the Trumpet has reminded our readers on several occasions, Iran’s long-held objective, stretching back to even before the 1979 revolution, is to become the undisputed leader in the region.
In pursuit of this goal, Iran is seeking to expand its military cooperation with Syria and Lebanon over the next five years—two other terrorist-harboring states on the international fringe.
This, however, is merely business as usual for the Islamic state. When America and Britain entered Libya at the end of 2003, they found proof of almost 100 military-related contracts Qadhafi had made with Iran, including missile development and other conventional and nonconventional weapons. “Iran has used Libya as a laboratory for Tehran’s defense industry,” an intelligence source quoted by Middle East Newsline said. “The United States found evidence of Iranian involvement in virtually every major Libyan weapons program” (March 3).
The Sunday Telegraph (London) ran a damning article exposing the fact that Iran has been training Libyan dissenters—in order to blackmail Qadhafi into withholding secrets about Iran’s nuclear program and involvement in international terrorism (Con Coughlin, February 29). After the article came out, Iran expelled the terrorists.
It appears Iran seeks also to dominate the field in its support not only of terrorist-sponsoring nations, but of terrorist groups as well, if its hosting of a 10-day anti-U.S./anti-Israel conference in February is any indication. Iranian officials invited groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, the Islamic Jihad of Palestine and al-Qaeda allies such as Ansar el Eslam to “discuss strategy against the United States and its allies, particularly Israel and the best ways and means to increase military, financial and propaganda support for Palestinian groups fighting Tel Aviv” (www.iran-press-service.com, February 6). The conference was ordered by Khamenei to commemorate the 25th anniversary of his predecessor the Ayatollah Khomeini’s return from exile before the 1979 revolution.
Amazingly, however, this outlandish behavior doesn’t seem to be harming Iran’s status internationally.
The European Union says it still wants to expand its political and economic cooperation with Tehran. In the words of Asia Times, Germany, the EU’s most powerful nation, is already “Iran’s main trade partner and political supporter” (February 24). A railway connecting Berlin to Tehran will be running freight trains in August. Though awaiting a green-light from the iaea based on Iran’s cooperation over its nuclear program, diplomatic relations remain strong as these two entities contemplate a deeper friendship.
Russia continues to collaborate with Iran in developing its billion-dollar nuclear reactor project in Bushehr, disregarding U.S. concerns. It is also planning to build railroads into Iran, which, according to the Russian Railways press service, “should dramatically change the way oil and oil products are presently being shipped in the Middle East” (Interfax News Agency, April 4). China has just agreed to buy $20 billion worth of liquefied natural gas from Iran over the next 25 years, ignoring U.S. energy sanctions. According to the Middle East Newsline, “China, which imported 12.4 million tons of crude oil in 2003, has become a major energy client of Iran and plans to develop Iranian energy fields” (March 20).
Japan, too, has just signed a $2 billion contract to explore and develop Iran’s colossal Azadegan oil field. Notice Stratfor’s analysis: “Washington has blocked this deal under the aegis of the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ilsa) for nearly a decade. Washington would allow it to proceed now only if it were willing to invest in a long-term, constructive relationship with the Islamic republic. In response to the Azadegan deal, U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, ‘We remain deeply concerned about deals such as this and disappointed that these things might go forward.’ The Japanese media, on the other hand, reported that Tokyo went ahead with the deal after the United States softened its stance on Iran” (op. cit.). Yes—America’s softened stance on Iran is being noticed, and it is having a ripple effect.
The Boomerang Effect
As has happened historically when America has compromised its long-term security in favor of short-term advantage, the U.S. appeasement of Iran—the world’s foremost state supporter of terrorism—is bound to boomerang in a spectacular way.
America hoped the war in Iraq, at least in part, would give it some bargaining power in the Middle East and serve to put pressure on Islamic nations in its war against terror. We can already see, however, that despite U.S. successes in Iraq and its pressuring of Libya, Saudi Arabia and other countries to be more cooperative, ironically America has actually handed Iran major tools of leverage in the process.
The benefit to Iran has been two-fold. First, as other Middle Eastern countries bow to U.S. demands and weaken, Iran by comparison is waxing strong. Second, with the Butcher of Baghdad gone, a major enemy that had checked Tehran’s ambitions has been simply eliminated, and with a Shiite-dominated government about to assume power in Iraq, Tehran gains a sympathetic neighbor, too weak to ever be a competitor—and glutted with oil.
This is a critical time for Iran. Its newly strengthened conservative leadership knows it. The mullahs are seizing the moment. They warrant our closest scrutiny.
It was 14 years ago that the Trumpet first began pointing its readers to the prophecy of an end-time king of the south. These latest events within and surrounding the Islamic republic of Iran seem to be moving inexorably toward the fulfillment of this prophecy. Armed with this biblical understanding, you can grasp the big picture in the day-to-day developments within this powder-keg region.
To learn more about the explosive events about to be ignited from within Iran—to see the backlash that will follow on from the United States’ duplicity—to understand how even Europe is prophesied to become embroiled in the situation very soon—request today a free copy of our booklet The King of the South.