Review of Yossef Bodansky's

"Target America"


Part Three:

1. What is the scale of the investment that Iran and other states have made in developing their terror networks in the US?

"In the fall of 1992, Turabi decided to further escalate operations in the U.S. Of the some $100 million allocated by Tehran as the initial budget for Turabi's Islamic Popular Arab Congress (Al-Mu'tamar al-Arabi al-Shabi al-Islami), a major portion is earmarked as an investment in the U.S. for consolidation of network and establishment of a center for publication and communication with groups everywhere through faxes and phones. These activities will be conducted through the establishment of a world-wide education and proselytization network under the cover of the Washington-based World Institute of Islamic Thought."

"By the end of the (1980s), Iran and the U.S. were, in effect, involved in a very intense, yet secret, war in the Persian Gulf and Lebanon, where Syria was actively involved...The emerging Iranian-Syrian long-term terrorist strategy for operations in America was for a three-phase strategy based on a gradual escalation of terrorist strikes that would test the extent and effectiveness of the reaction of U.S. of the reaction of American law enforcement authorities. The three phases of the Iranian-Syrian long-term terrorist strategy were as follows:

  1. Use of local expendable assets to carry out operations while creating problems for the local security forces;
  2. Quality attacks by operatives already on-site, living off and gaining operational support from the locally-based dormant networks.
  3. Spectacular strikes, including suicide attacks, by specially placed expert terrorists in order to demonstrate the global reach of the Iran-led Muslim Bloc and to avenge the Muslim world...

2. What exactly is a "terror network?"

" the early 1980's they began a lengthy, prudent, and professional process of consolidating a stable and redundant infrastructure in America based on a myriad of dormant networks and using established methods for the insertion of experts and trigger-men. This approach is derived from, and essentially similar to, the successful terrorist build-up in Western Europe in the 1980's and incorporates many of the lessons learned from the rich operational experience accumulated there."

" the mid-1980s, the Iranian-sponsored Islamist network in the U.S. and Canada had markedly expanded and become better organized. The Islamist infrastructure already included all the components of a mature terrorist support system. These included safe houses in major cities, weapons, ammunition, money, systems to provide medical and legal aid, false identity papers and intelligence for the operative. The network was also large in scale and spanned the United States..".

"The three main components of the tested and proved Islamist terrorist system are:

  1. the Iranian-HizbAllah predominantly Shi'ite network;
  2. the on-site elite operatives network based on various types of "Afghans"; and
  3. the predominantly Sunni Islamist network living among the Islamist community in the U.S. and employing local assets, who were considered expendable."

3. How large are these networks and how long established are they in this country?

"By the early 1980s, there was already a solid, veteran and proven Shi'ite terrorist network in the U.S. based on the Tashayu Sorkh (Red Shi'ism) organization founded in San Jose, California, in 1965 by Mustafa Chamran Savehi."

"More than 100 well-trained Shi'ite terrorists were already deployed in the U.S. in late 1985. Virtually all of them entered the U.S. via Mexico. They were concealed and shielded primarily within the population of students from Muslim countries which, in the mid-1980s, was estimated to be some 60,000 strong."

" early 1989, the Iranian network in the U.S. was the most solid and dangerous of all terrorist networks. The desirable ratio of local Islamists and dormant expert terrorists had been achieved. A comprehensive support infrastructure manned by dedicated individuals was functioning. From among the 30,000 Iranian student population, Iran could count on some 1,000 militants to conduct terrorism. In addition, several dozens of expert terrorists were clandestinely deployed and ready to strike inside America. A few hundred of the militant Iranian students in the U.S. were organized to assist them or participate in such terrorist operations. A network of legal societies and foundations insured the flow of funds from, and safe communications with, Tehran."

"All this time, during the late 1980s, Tehran continued to consolidate and expand its terrorist infrastructure in the U.S. As a result, in early 1989, the Iranian network in the U.S. was the most solid and dangerous of all local terrorist networks. Tehran was able to establish in the U.S. the combination of expert terrorists and Islamist zealots that had proved to be so lethal in Western Europe.

A comprehensive support infrastructure manned by dedicated individuals had already been functioning for several years. Small networks of Iranian operatives and terrorists, with their own stockpiles of weapons and explosives, were already deployed in the U.S., hidden mainly within the 30,000-strong Iranian emigre community, more than half of them "sympathetic" to the cause of Khomeini."

4. What are the goals of state sponsored terrorist networks in the US?

"The states controlling the Islamist terrorist network, primarily Syria and Iran, are committed to extending their struggle into the U.S. and are willing to withstand the consequences."

"..virtually the entire radical and terrorist supporting apparatus in the U.S. was unified toward facilitating major terrorist operations and withstanding the reaction of the law enforcement agencies in the aftermath of such attacks"

"For Tehran, terrorism is a primary instrument of state policy. The leaders of Iran consider their control over such organizations as the HizbAllah a real strategic asset. Although Tehran understood by 1986 that for the international Islamic Revolution to succeed it must be truly global in scope, it was not until the Iran-Iraq War was over that Iran was able to complete the deployment of a professional and sophisticated network aimed at political subversion and armed terror."

"...Islamist terrorists and the states controlling them consider the U.S. to be their ultimate enemy. Moreover, the sponsoring states are willing to withstand the possible retribution terrorist strikes may bring. Little wonder that the HizbaAllah has always emphasized that the struggle against the U.S. must take precedence over any other objective of the Islamic world: "We are moving in the direction of fighting the roots of vice and the first root of vice is America. All the endeavors to drag us into marginal action will be futile when compared with the confrontation against the United States."

5. What have the Islamist terror states learned is the single most important key for maintaining successful terror networks in the US?

"Ultimately, while Iran, Syria, Sudan and their allies control the most effective international terrorist networks in the United States, the extent of their ability to sustain operations and strike repeatedly largely depends on the Islamist communities with which they seek shelter."

"The presence of a support system in place is the key to the terrorist capability to strike inside the U.S"

"The conduct of sophisticated, effective and lethal terrorist operations depends on the availability of both skilled operatives and a comprehensive support infrastructure. As a rule, the support system is established in the target-country several years in advance."

"One of the most important lessons derived from the clandestine and terrorist activities in Western Europe was the recognition of the crucial importance of a long term presence and a locally-based support infrastructure. Tehran concluded that it was virtually impossible to sustain, let alone run, effective terrorist and intelligence networks without a solid support infrastructure on-site... Therefore, the Islamist terrorist masters decided, and not without reason, that their urgent priority should be the establishment of a solid and redundant support infrastructure.

6. How do the terror networks inside the US work with their state sponsors?

"(The US-based group) collects intelligence, sets up a logistical support network and prepares the conditions for carrying out a terrorist attack. The support network then waits in a dormant state for activation by the leadership, that is, the controlling state. Then the highly skilled operatives arrive on the scene only a short time prior to the specific attacks. They activate the local support network and live off them for the duration of the terrorist operation."

"Meanwhile, the Iranians and the Syrians began testing the waters in the U.S. itself. Because these trial operations had to be deniable, Iranian and Syrian intelligence agencies started with the insertion of terrorist detachments, that if exposed, could not be associated with the Islamist networks."

7. How do Islamist terror states create the kind of communities in the Unites States that are best suited to provide essential logistical support for their terrorist activities

"The emphasis should be on the organization and consolidation of a comprehensive web of support networks that would be able to withstand any police action after major strikes. The experts in Tehran were convinced that such a support system can be safe and secure only if it rises form within a radicalized and activist Islamic community."

"Therefore, Iran and its allies embarked on a twin-track program to further improve their terrorist capabilities in the U.S. and Canada:

  1. Gradually but quickly transform the Muslim community in the U.S., pushing it toward greater radicalization and commitment to Islamist activism that can be exploited and manipulated to support international terrorism.

  2. Prepare numerous cadres of super-expert terrorists who are not merely excellent as operatives but are capable of sustaining operations in the U.S. under the most adverse social conditions..."

"The Iranian analysis of the dynamics of Muslim communities in the West, based on their experience in Western Europe, is that once a community embarks on a path of greater awareness and communal activism, activities that by themselves are innocent and legitimate, a minority within this community is propelled even further to become an activist Islamist community. Subsequently, with proper agitation and organization by the Iranian-controlled mullahs and ulama, some of these activist Islamists can be convinced, recruited and trained to either assist Islamist terrorists as part of the support system or even to commit acts of terrorism themselves."

"Sheikh Umar Abd-al-Rahman began preaching in the Masjid al-Salam in Jersey City, New Jersey, in May 1990, just about the time Al-Sayyid Abdulazzi Nossair was beginning to prepare for the killing of Rabbi Kahane...The transformation of the Islamist communities in New York and New Jersey since the fall of 1990 because of Sheikh Umar Abk-al-Rahman, emerges as a textbook case of Islamic network building and consolidation...

During this period funds began to flow to al-Rahman from Iran via Germany... They took advantage of the main lesson learned from the Kikumura operation, namely, that one can get everything in the U.S. A major sabotage operation can be carried out with little or no need for smuggling tremendous amounts of explosives, especially the tell-tale plastiques...Most important was the identification, recruitment, and manipulation of the expendables, the local zealots who would actually carry out the operation and be sacrificed in the process. The preparation of expendables is a lengthy process, for it requires thorough psychological tempering and conditioning. The primary candidates are desperate drifters within the Islamic community who are yearning for revenge, overcommitted to the cause in principle. They must be susceptible to the influence of the spiritual leaders such as Sheikh Abd-al-Rahman."

By October 11, I hope to have a review of the entire book posted to the web. Thanks to all those who have helped so far and I encourage everyone reading this to pitch in as well:

The more help we receive from you, the more people will have access to this important material.

8. If the terrorist network currently in place in the United States is so large and long established, why were there no terrorist attacks on the US during the Gulf War?

"Within the context of the Iranian-Iraqi agreement on launching a terrorist campaign at the time of the Gulf Crisis, Tehran insisted on virtual control over the operations in the U.S. and Canada. Indeed, during the fall of 1990 there were active preparations inside the U.S. by several organizations sponsored by Iran and Syria, including the HizbAllah, for the launching of a "wave of terrorist strikes" once the war with Iraq ended. However, in early 1991, Tehran decided to disengage from the joint terrorist campaign and concentrate instead on furthering Iran's own interests. Consequently, terrorist strikes inside the U.S. by assets controlled by Tehran and Damascus were called off."

9. Why was the US virtually free from Islamist terrorist attack until 1993? What changed?

"... the virtual safety enjoyed by America during the 1980's should be attributed primarily to the restraint exercised and imposed by the then-dominant states, primarily the U.S.S.R. and Cuba. Both countries were motivated by higher priorities, namely, preparations for World War III as well as the benefits and profits derived from narco-terrorism.

With diverse covert operations going on, the KGB, the GRU(Soviet Military Intelligence), and the DGI (Cuban Intelligence) were afraid of the negative ramifications that tightened security in the aftermath of a terrorist strike might have on their ability to operate in the U.S. Therefore they would not let the terrorists they controlled operate in America.

Thus, although leftist Arab terrorists have been present in the U.S., most elements have been passive and, with few exceptions in the early 1970's, did not commit acts of terrorism."

10. What are some of the ways that Islamist terrorist organizations fund their activities in the US and Europe?

"... the involvement of Syria, Iran and their clients in the drug trade had also turned into a primary instrument for bringing international terrorism to the U.S. itself. While the Syrians were interested in the immense financial gains in the drug trade, Iran and the HizbAllah also had ideological motives and fatwas were used accordingly by the Shi'ite leadership. "We are making these drugs for the Devil; the Devil is America, Jews, et al. We cannot kill them with guns so we kill them with drugs," the HizbAllah explained.

The most important development in the expansion of terrorism into the U.S. was the "crack-for-terrorist" deal reached between Damascus and the Columbian drug cartel. Syria had long been eager to meet the growing need in Western Europe for cocaine. However, it proved virtually impossible to grow coca plants in Lebanon. Therefore, there emerged a need to import coca "base" and the appropriate know-how to produce "American style" crack."

"...Major progress toward an arrangement was made in a series of meetings in Larnaca between a senior family member of the Pablo Escobar Colombian Medellin drug cartel and a very senior member of the Keyrouz family, a Lebanese clan very close to the Syrian intelligence and military leadership, long associated with the Syrian drug trade. In 1989, Escobar met Rais' Assad (Rifa't Assad's son) and senior Syrian military and intelligence officials in Larnaca to discuss the expansion of their cooperation... As a direct result of Escobar's visit to Larnaca, a "factory" for crack was set up in the Biqaa in January 1990 using raw material provided from Columbia (and elsewhere in Latin America), initially to satisfy the growing demand in Western Europe and the Far East.. Ultimately, to take a good part of the drug infrastructure away from the reach of U.S. forces... The Medellin Cartel was quick to put into action what it learned from the Syrians. On November 27, 1989, An Avianca Boeing 727 exploded in mid-air five minutes after taking off from the Bogota, Columbia airport, killing 101 passengers and crew members. Investigation disclosed that a Middle-Eastern style bomb made of SEMTEX was planted by the Medellin Cartel, and that the detonator was similar to the one used to blow up Pan-Am flight 103."

11. Mechanically speaking, what are some of the ways funds are transferred from overseas to support terror networks in the US?

"Financial support for organizations and individuals is channeled through various Islamic charities, some of which, like the Mostazafan Foundation in New York, acknowledge their relationship with both the Iranian Government and local Islamist organizations such as the Muslim Students' Association of the U.S. and Canada."

"A few hundred militant Iranian students in the U.S., funded by Iranian scholarships, were expected to actively assist them or directly participate in such terrorist organizations. Organized support for the entire Iranian network was conducted via the Islamic Society of North America and the Mostazafan Foundation. For routine activities, The Islamic Society was the primary instrument of communication with Tehran, while the Mostazafan Foundation was the main channel for providing the funds."

"Money was wired from Germany, a classic point of transfer from Iran, to New Jersey...."

"During this period funds began to flow to al-Rahman from Iran via Germany.."

"A network of legal societies and foundations insured the flow of funds from, and safe communications with, Tehran."

12. How are Islamist terrorists able to travel from the US and Europe for ongoing training in Middle East terror states and back again without being identified?

"In 1989, Mir Aimal Kansi made an unusual trip to Germany. He stayed there for only a month. This trip might have been a cover for a classic back door movement to Iran of highly sensitive cases. Since 1985, numerous Iranian agents/terrorists used this route to reach Iran. They would enter West Germany legally and then make an undocumented trip to Berlin. After crossing into East Berlin by subway, they would board a flight to Damascus and go on to Tehran without any need for travel documents. They would return to the West in the same manner."

Islamic cultural institutions in West Germany provided alibis for some of the more important agents/terrorists. Mir Aimal Kansi could have travelled to Syria and Iran in the same way, possible in order to receive advanced training in preparation for U.S. operations."

"More than 100 well-trained Shi'ite terrorists were already deployed in the U.S. in late 1985. Virtually all of them entered the U.S. via Mexico. They were concealed and shielded primarily within the population of students from Muslim countries which, in the mid-1980s, was estimated to be some 60,000 strong. Tehran also made an effort to improve the terrorist skills of some of the sleeper networks. Several Iranian "students" in the U.S., all sustained by scholarships from Tehran, were ordered to return to Iran on a periodic basis in order to receive military training..."

13. How difficult is it for Islamist terrorist states to find volunteers for suicide attacks?

"In late 1985 and early 1986, Qaddafi completed the organization of suicide squads for terrorist strikes inside the U.S. Part of the dynamic that made this possible was the maturation of the first generation of Libyans who had grown up completely under Qaddafi's rule...According to Libyan officials, the list of applicants for "martyrdom" was far longer than anything the training system could accommodate."

14. Do Islamist terrorist organizations approach and attempt to involve disgruntled Americans in their activities?

"In early 1986, Iran began approaching and ultimately recruiting prisoners who were still incarcerated. Iranian-supported front organizations made contact with disgruntled Black Muslim prisoners in all the major prisons in the U.S.

Shi'ite charities established small communes in various cities, including Washington, D.C., ostensibly for prisoners' rehabilitation, where recruitment is finalized. After brain-washing, the ex-prisoners swear allegiance to the Ayatollah Khomeini and volunteer for Jihad. They are then sent to Pakistan for training with the Islamist mujahideen and the ISI. The more promising are identified and sent for additional training in Pakistan, Lebanon and Iran."

Remember: This material was available in a mass market paperback in 1993.

Text Copyright: Yossef Bodansky, 1993
Question and Answer format: Copyright: Ken McCarthy, 2001

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