Obama Should Treat Attempted Iranian Bombing as Act of War

by on August 19th, 2013
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COMMENTARY | FBI and DEA agents have foiled a plot, conducted by what is described as a “faction of the Iranian government,” to blow up the Saudi ambassador to the United States and the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington D.C.

Federal officials, according to ABC news, are approaching the attempted plot as a law enforcement matter rather than what it is: an attempted act of war.

The plot came to the attention of the DEA when Manssor Arbabsiar, an Iranian American from Corpus Christi, Texas, approached a man whom he thought was a member of a Mexican drug cartel but who actually was a DEA informant. Arabasiar proposed that the cartel would carry out the murder of the Saudi ambassador and the embassy bombings for a $1.5 million fee. The FBI was brought in when the terrorism angle became apparent. Arbabsiar is now in federal custody and is said to be cooperating with federal investigators. He has claimed that he was directed by high ranking members of the Iranian government, including a cousin who has been identified as being part of the Revolutionary Guard’s special operations Al Quds force.

Had the plot succeeded, it is very likely that the collateral damage in terms of lost of life would have been terrible. It is therefore a wonder why there is no indication that the Obama administration is not regarding this plot as an attempted act of war.

It is possible that the Obama administration, having identified those in Iran responsible for the plot, will demand that they be turned over. If (when) the Iranian government refuses, the United States could proceed to conduct military operations against Iran. The Obama administration has the precedence of the way the Bush administration handled 9/11. The Bush administration demanded that the Taliban government hand over bin Laden and anyone else who was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. When the Taliban regime refused, the United States and its allies went to war to topple the regime.

Responding to Iran would not mean a full-scale invasion directed at regime change. That would involve a mobilization of American resources that has not occurred since the Second World War. It would involve some military action designed to disrupt Iran’s capacity to commit acts of terrorism including Predator drone strikes against Iranian officials involved in terrorist plots, air strikes against Iranian military installations, and covert operations designed to destabilize the Iranian regime.

The Obama administration has done better than anyone had expected in the war against Al Qaida. It would be a shame if it were to shrink from what is necessary when the threat comes from elsewhere.

Sources: Iran ‘Directed’ Washington, D.C., Terror Plot, U.S. Says, Richard Esposito and Brian Ross, ABC News, Oct 11, 2011

The Al Quds: Iran’s Elite Secretive Guard, Zunaira Zaki, ABC News, Feb 14, 2007

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