A new report details the horrific exploits of “Unit 190,” an even more shadowy unit of the already-shady Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. Unit 190, according to Western intelligence sources quoted by Fox News, has for many years been smuggling arms to terrorist groups in conflict zones across the Middle East, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and the new masters of Yemen, the Houthis.
It is a fairly small operation, with only about two dozen employees, but its influence has been considerable. They slip their shipments past international monitors by “packing RPGs, night-vision equipment, and long-range rockets in powdered milk, cement, and spare vehicle parts.”
For an extra added dose of outrage, the buyers proceed to complain that they do not have enough supplies, such as powdered milk, cement, and spare vehicle parts. Hamas is especially big on making such claims of poverty while it shovels millions of dollars into the acquisition of murder weapons and the construction of terror tunnels.
The general goal of asymmetrical warfare (i.e., terrorism) is to alter the course of legitimate politics and diplomacy by illegitimate means. The terrorist cheats, gaining an enormous advantage over adversaries who feel obliged to play by the rules. Victory for the terror state comes when it is granted the mantle of legitimacy despite its dark deeds – rewarded with the respect that should be reserved only for lawful nations. As the situation stands today, Iran is history’s outstanding example of playing this twisted game successfully.
Unit 190’s deception tactics don’t always work. Among the seizures of arms provided by the group mentioned in the Fox News piece are the 2007 capture of 122mm mortar shells destined for Hezbollah by Turkey, the U.S. Navy intercepting 40 tons of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles headed for the Houthis in January 2013, and an illicit weapons cache in Khartoum that exploded in 2012 when the Israelis apparently bombed it before the stockpiled munitions could be distributed to the Gaza Strip and other hot spots. Loads of Syrian and Iranian long-range rockets bagged by the Israeli navy before they could reach Gaza in 2011 and 2014, mortar shells pinched by Nigerian security forces before they could reach Gambia in 2010, and a Russian ship packed with Iranian explosives intercepted in the Red Sea by the U.S. Navy in 2009 were also seized. In that last incident, the captured explosives accidentally detonated and killed a Cypriot naval officer who was inspecting the ship.
Western intelligence services have evidently been on to Unit 190 for quite some time. They have been able to pinpoint the ostensibly “civilian” hangar at the international airport in Tehran used by the unit as a warehouse, as well as the Persian Gulf islands used as waypoints in their shipping network. Sanctions applied by the U.S. government against what appear to be private business entities in Iran are often targeted financial strikes against Quds Force front companies.
Using such covert techniques to destabilize adversarial governments makes it easier for Iran to expand its influence as a Middle Eastern hegemon. Creating an atmosphere of perpetual bloody chaos across the region makes it more likely that Western democracies will throw up their hands and back away from the whole mess, perhaps even convincing themselves that Iran would be acceptable as a unifying regional power that will crush psychotic Sunni Muslim groups like ISIS and do business with the West. It is a cold-blooded strategy, but it looks to be paying dividends, as the outline of the new Persian Empire is easier to see through the smoke and fire of the Middle East with every passing week.