Setting the Record Straight on Saddam Hussein and Terrorism

On Friday, a speech by Donald Trump revived the old question of the Iraqi dictator’s support for terrorism. As Kyle Orton points out, in addition to his links to the perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, murkier ties to al-Qaeda, and well-known policy of providing money to the families of suicide bombers, Saddam Hussein also harbored and abetted some of the most notorious Palestinian terrorists:

[The Palestinian] Sabri al-Banna, [better known as] Abu Nidal, had many paymasters and agendas in his career as the most infamous international terrorist before Osama bin Laden, but in preparation for that career and for long stretches of it he was sheltered by Saddam. . . .

Al-Banna departed Iraq to Assad’s Syria in 1979, but returned to Saddam’s realm in March 1982. . . . It was from Baghdad that al-Banna attempted to murder Shlomo Argov, Israel’s ambassador to London, sparking Israel’s invasion of Lebanon . . .

[In addition], Muhammad Zaydan (Abu Abbas) led the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) and directed the taking of hostages aboard the Achille Lauro on October 7, 1985. During the assault, the PLF shot and killed the wheelchair-bound Leon Klinghoffer because he was a Jew, and threw his body overboard. When Italian authorities caught up with Zaydan they had to release him because he was traveling on an Iraqi diplomatic passport—despite being neither Iraqi nor a diplomat. Zaydan [then] moved to Saddam’s Iraq and remained there until he was captured five days after the fall of Saddam’s regime.

Read more at Syrian Intifada

More about: Al Qaeda, Donald Trump, First Lebanon War, Palestinian terror, Politics & Current Affairs, Saddam Hussein


Iran’s Options for Revenge on Israel

On April 1, an Israeli airstrike on Damascus killed three Iranian generals, one of whom was the seniormost Iranian commander in the region. The IDF has been targeting Iranian personnel and weaponry in Syria for over a decade, but the killing of such a high-ranking figure raises the stakes significantly. In the past several days, Israelis have received a number of warnings both from the press and from the home-front command to ready themselves for retaliatory attacks. Jonathan Spyer considers what shape that attack might take:

Tehran has essentially four broad options. It could hit an Israeli or Jewish facility overseas using either Iranian state forces (option one), or proxies (option two). . . . Then there’s the third option: Tehran could also direct its proxies to strike Israel directly. . . . Finally, Iran could strike Israeli soil directly (option four). It is the riskiest option for Tehran, and would be likely to precipitate open war between the regime and Israel.

Tehran will consider all four options carefully. It has failed to retaliate in kind for a number of high-profile assassinations of its operatives in recent years. . . . A failure to respond, or staging too small a response, risks conveying a message of weakness. Iran usually favors using proxies over staging direct attacks. In an unkind formulation common in Israel, Tehran is prepared to “fight to the last Arab.”

Read more at Spectator

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria