- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 5, 2006

A major beneficiary of the violence following the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, Iraq — one of the holiest sites in Shi’ite Islam — is the Shi’ite clerical dictatorship in Iran. Within hours of the crime, Tehran began trying to exploit it in an effort to foment violence against the United States and Israel.

“They invade the shrine and bomb there because they oppose God and justice,” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said. He declared that such actions “are the acts of a group of defeated Zionists and occupiers.”

Of course, this is absurd. The primary suspect in the mosque bombing is Abu Musab Zarqawi, leader of al Qaeda in Iraq. Much of the suspicion focuses on Zarqawi, a Sunni Muslim, due to the fact that he declared war against Iraqi Shi’ites and has written of his desire to spark a civil war in that country. But Mr. Ahmadinejad’s assertion still must be taken seriously due to Tehran’s sometime alliance with Zarqawi and its consistent efforts to portray Washington as a force for evil.

One of the most virulent opponents of coalition military operations in Iraq is al-Manar, a television station run by the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah, a group which receives upwards of $100 million annually from the Iranian regime. Less than a week before the start of the war in March 2003, al-Manar, which can be seen in much of the Arab world, broadcast a speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah telling American troops that “our slogan was and will remain ‘death to America.’ ” After the war began, al-Manar broadcast video that ended with footage showing suicide bombers as they blew themselves up and likening President Bush to Adolf Hitler.

Time and again since the war began, U.S. and British officials have pointed to the role of Iran and its allies in engaging in violence and sabotaging postwar reconstruction in Iraq.

In October, for example, Prime Minister Tony Blair said that improvised explosive devices used to kill British soldiers in Iraq were of a type that had been used by Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah. The Revolutionary Guards trained the Badr Brigade, the militia of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, headed by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, who has become something of a Shi’ite political godfather.

The Badr Corps, which infiltrated the country even before the fall of Baghdad, is one of the most notorious of the Shi’ite militias. In November, U.S. forces raided a detention center in Baghdad run by the Iraqi Interior Ministry, headed by Bayan Jabr, a member of Sheikh Hakim’s SCIRI organization, where they found more than 160 malnourished prisoners, some bearing signs of torture. Most were Sunnis.

Earlier this month, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, criticized Iran for its role in providing training and support for Shi’ite Iraqi militias and Sunni terrorist insurgents who target American and Iraqi government troops. Indeed, Zarqawi, after being wounded in combat against U.S. military forces in Afghanistan in 2001, fled to Iran, and subsequently made his way to Syria and Lebanon for meetings with Hezbollah. According to journalist Kenneth Timmerman, Zarqawi has on occasion made his way across the border into Iran when coalition forces in Iraq have come too close for comfort. It would be folly to dismiss the possibility that Iran is supporting both Shi’ite and Sunni mischief in Iraq.

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