Picture Berlin in late 1939 -- a meeting between Adolf Hitler and Hideki Tojo, at which the German and Japanese strongmen declare their contempt for FDR and Churchill, their determination to hang on to their conquests in Czechslovakia, Poland and China, and voice their disdain for resolutions passed by the League of Nations. Picture Tojo beaming as he meets with a procession of German Brownshirts, members of the Romanian Iron Guard, Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Palestine and other neo-Nazi and Japanese collaborators, all of them mouthing platitudes about fascist "solidarity."
That would be roughly analogous to what took place in Damascus on Thursday and Friday, when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Syria for meetings with President Bashar Assad and a veritable who's who of local terrorist organizations. With the fall of Saddam Hussein and Libyan boss Moammar Gadhafi's decision to relinquish his weapons of mass destruction, Iran and Syria are arguably the region's only remaining rogue states today: Syria for its sponsorship of terrorism and its role in the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and Iran for its refusal to come clean about its nuclear program and its own role in sponsoring terror. With Mr. Ahmadinejad at his side, Mr. Assad endorsed Iran's defiance over its nuclear program and its refusal to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency and its inspectors.
One of the terrorist leaders who met with Mr. Ahmadinejad was Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, the former University of South Florida professor who has now served for more than a decade as the head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The day before Mr. Shallah met with Mr. Ahmadinejad in Damascus, a suicide bomber affiliated with Mr. Shallah's organization detonated a bomb in Tel Aviv which wounded more than 20 Israelis. Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz charged that Iran had funded the attack, while operational orders for the bomber were issued from PIJ headquarters in Damascus to operatives in the West Bank city of Nablus.
Also present at the meeting with Mr. Ahmadinejad, according to Maher al-Taher, who heads the Damascus-based PFLP, were Hamas leader Khaled Meshal and Ahmed Jibril, leader of the PFLP-GC. According to Mr. Taher, the assembled terrorists "discussed the issue of pressure against Syria, Iran and Lebanon and confirmed the need to form a front that groups all the forces that opposes (sic) the Zionist-American schemes in the region."
It would be easy to dismiss all of this as nothing more than the empty rhetoric and idle posturing of thugs. But that would be a dangerous mistake. The terrorist parley that occurred in Damascus last week is directed primarily at the United States, Israel and the European democracies: in particular the "European Union 3" -- Britain, France and Germany -- who have spearheaded the failed effort to negotiate a settlement to the dispute over Tehran's nuclear weapons program. It sends Washington, the Europeans and Israel a warning about the consequences of supporting economic sanctions or even military action against Iran or its junior axis partner in Syria.
In fact, this is nothing new. Time and again during the past few years, Iran and Syria have behaved in ways that should be seen at least in part as a warning of what is in store for anyone who challenges them.
Syria, of course, is the main transit point for terrorist insurgents crossing into Iraq, and Iran is also active in working to sabotage efforts to build a new Iraq. We know that Tehran and Damascus have, at various times harbored Abu Musab Zarqawi. The Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah (which could not not operate without the financial backing, weapons and logistical support it receives from Iran and Syria) has been training and smuggling weapons to Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank and Gaza. Local terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad also get their support from Iran and Syria.
And this is just a partial list of what has occurred during a time when Tehran presumably lacked nuclear weapons. Once Iran crosses this threshold and is able to add more atomic weapons to its arsenal and perfect the warheads necessary to carry them to their targets, its ability (and likely that of Syria) to menace its neighbors and deter other nations from responding grows exponentially.
Iran and its terrorist proxies realize this, and Hamas has threatened to step up attacks on Israel if the Jewish state attempts to target Iranian nuclear sites. "If we assume that Iran has a military nuclear program, what is wrong with that?," Hamas's Mr. Meshal said while visiting Tehran last month. He vowed that Hamas would defend Iran's "right" to a nuclear weapon, and praised Mr. Ahmadinejad's comments calling the Holocaust a myth.
Meanwhile, trivialization and denial of the Holocaust appears to be on its way to becoming a regular feature of Iranian public discourse. On Jan. 5, for example, Iran's Channel 2 ran a panel discussion suggesting that "Zionist leaders" have committed Holocaust-like crimes of their own against the Palestinians. (For more information, see www.memri.org).
This combination of Islamofascist ideology, atomic weapons and terrorism has the potential to make the world a much more dangerous place in the very near future.
Joel Himelfarb is the assistant editor of the editorial page of The Washington Times.