Terrorism: January 28, 2003

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During the 1991 war, Iraqi military intelligence dispatched forty teams, each of two men, to conduct sabotage and terrorist missions against the US around the world. Saddam would not enlist outside terrorist groups, preferring to keep the operation under strict government control. The problem was that the would-be terrorists were hopelessly inept. One team hid their bomb so poorly it was found and disarmed by the embassy gardener; another team blew themselves up with their own bomb. Once the US became aware of the campaign, it quickly established that all of the teams were working out of the local Iraqi embassy (which had been under close surveillance) and all 80 of these commandoes had sequentially-numbered Iraqi passports (making them easy to identify and track). All but a few of them were rounded up in short order; a few were able to return to Iraq after abandoning their missions. What could be expected in a new war? Will Iraq continue to use only military intelligence officers operating out of embassies (for internal political reasons) or will Iraq enlist foreign mercenaries and independent terrorists that it cannot strictly control? In the end, it will be Saddam or his sons who make that decision, and it is anybody's guess if they can or will "think outside of the box" and use agents who are harder to track but harder to control. --Stephen V Cole



 

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