Investigative reporter Joseph Trento believes there had been a warning going as far as 1995 that Islamic terrorists might use commercial planes to stage attacks, and that this information was basically ignored. Now in his column for the National Security News Service, titled When the Enemy of My Friend is My Customer(1), Trento is sounding the alarm for another danger. It concerns a souped-up anti-ship missile called the C802, which has been sold on the world market to countries like Iran.
"Iran, with its tiny patrol boats and toy navy, now controls naval access to the Persian Gulf," Trento writes of the country that he suspects has greatly expanded the number of C802 missiles it owns. The cruise missiles launched from land, sea or air could place all shipping lanes in the Persian Gulf at risk, and Trento says that the US Navy has not been able to develop an effective defense against them. Further he writes that an arms dealer told him that "last year's attack on the USS Cole was carried out by a boat loaded not with ordinary explosives but with a warhead taken from a C802."
As the war against Iraq begins, the US may have a far more formidable challenge with Iran, should war in the region spread. Three times the size of Iraq in both size and population, Iran's army is reported to be 450,000 strong. "Western naval analysts are perhaps most concerned about Iran's five submarines, which given the constricted nature of the waterways in the region could close ship lanes," writes Peter Grier in Air Force Magazine(2).