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Saturday, May 13, 2006

Pakistani General to Iran: Take Israel Hostage

Today, eight Islamic leaders, including the leaders of Iran and United States 'ally' Egypt met on the terror-stricken island of Bali to discuss ways to boost economic and political cooperation, alleviate poverty and restructure debt, and ended up issuing a statement backing the 'right of states to develop nuclear energy' for 'peaceful purposes.' Today, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinadinnerjacket said that he is willing to discuss his nuclear program with anyone except Israel and "countries who hold bombs over our heads." And also today, the Associated Press issued a report of an interview with the former Chief of Staff of United States 'ally' Pakistan, who advised Iran to take Israel hostage in the event that the United States attacks its nuclear facilities.

Retired Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg said he suggested their government "make it clear that if anything happens to Iran, if anyone attacks it - it doesn't matter who it is or how it is attacked - that Iran's answer will be to hit Israel; the only target will be Israel."

Since then, echoes of Beg's thinking have been heard in Iran, though whether they result directly from his advice isn't known.

Mohammad Ebrahim Dehghani, an Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander, was quoted last week as saying that if "America does make any mischief, the first place we target will be Israel." The threat was disavowed the next day by Brig. Gen. Alireza Afshar, deputy to the chief of Iran's military staff, who said it was Dehghani's "personal view and has no validity as far as the Iranian military officials are concerned."

The AP continues:

In the AP interview that took place several weeks before these threats were exchanged, General Beg said a delegation from the Iranian Embassy in Pakistan had come to his office in January, seeking advice as Western pressure mounted on Iran to abandon its nuclear effort. Beg said he offered lessons learned from his experience dealing with India's nuclear threat.

He said he told the Iranians, whom he did not identify, that Pakistan had suspected India of collaborating with Israel in planning an attack on its nuclear facilities. By then, Pakistan had the bomb too. But both countries had adopted a strategy of ambiguity, he said, and Pakistan sent an emissary to India to warn that no matter who attacked it, Pakistan would retaliate against India.

"We told India frankly that this is the threat we perceive and this is the action we are taking and the action we will take. It was a real deterrent," he recalled telling the Iranians.

He said he also advised them to "attempt to degrade the defense systems of Israel," harass it through the Hamas government of the Palestinian Authority and the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon, and put second-strike nuclear weapons on submarines.

I'm sure you will all recall that it was Pakistan - through A. Q. Khan - that sold Iran the centrifuges that they used to develop the bomb.

Khan has been pardoned by President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, and Pakistan has refused to hand him over to the United States or to the IAEA for questioning.


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