- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 24, 2004

There are some highly intelligent Islamist terrorist strategists who understand European politics to an extraordinary degree and, more importantly, they know how to exploit divisive issues in European politics like the war in Iraq, with or without suicide bombers.

This statement flies in the face of Fareed Zakaria’s March 15 Newsweek column, “The radicals are desperate.” If Madrid March 11 is an example of their desperation, one shudders to think what the terrorists will do when they become cautious and optimistic.

My view of their political intelligence is based on a March 14 expose in the Italian daily, Il Giornale of Milan, about an al Qaeda pamphlet published last year and discovered on the Web by Israeli and Norwegian investigators.

The headline over the March 14 Giornale story reads:

“The plan of the attack [on Madrid, March 11] was written in a booklet in 2003, in Iraq.”

What the 42-page pamphlet makes clear is that Madrid — remember this pamphlet is dated a year ago — was to be the first terrorist target to be followed by a similar terrorist attack on Italy, both attacks coupled to the anti-American terrorist resistance in Iraq. The objective of the attack was to force both countries to withdraw their troops from the coalition forces in Iraq. That, as we have seen, has already happened in Spain in the aftermath of the March 11 catastrophe.

The pamphlet, titled, “Jihad in Iraq: Hopes and Risks. Analysis of Reality, Prospects and Current State of Jihad in Iraq,” was published by a “Service Center for Mujaheddin,” a name associated with al Qaeda. It was found by the Forsvarets Forskning Institutt, the Norwegian intelligence agency, and the Israeli secret service, according to Il Giornale.

The 2003 pamphlet begins:

“To compel the Spanish government to retreat from Iraq, we must strike powerfully. These attacks will be accompanied by a propaganda campaign on the issue of Iraq. To do this, it is essential to take advantage of the political elections in March 2004. The Spanish government cannot afford more than two or three attacks, after which it will have to retreat under the pressure of popular protest. If, however, the Spanish troops were to remain in Iraq, the Socialists will get elected, precisely on the basis of their explicit promise to bring back the troops.”

The pamphlet then proposes the same destabilizing strategy and cooperation with pacifist movements in Italy, where, it says, the situation is similar to Spain’s. Target No. 3 is Britain.

“The retreat of the Spanish and Italian troops from Iraq,” concludes the booklet, “will create enormous pressure on Great Britain, which Tony Blair may not be able to handle. The dominoes will fall fast. The only problem is the choice of the first piece to hit.”

Well, they chose Spain and won. Next stop? Italy, Britain?

Arnold Beichman, a Hoover Institution research fellow, is author of “Anti-American Myths: Their Causes and Consequences” and is a columnist for The Washington Times.

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