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Analyst offers Middle East insights

From his home in Israel, Elliot Chodoff and his four childrenstrapped on gas masks every night in early 1991 and watched SCUDmissiles rain down from Iraq.

He has no problem with America’s controversial decision toinvade Saddam Hussein’s former fiefdom in 2003.

“When you’re facing multiple enemies, killing any one of them isa good thing,” Chodoff said. “You don’t number them one, two, threeand ignore three because you’re busy with one. Targeting the rightguys, for sure.”

Chodoff’s opinion on Iraq is not motivated by vengeance,either.

It’s motivated by good intelligence.

He’s a widely published political and military analystspecializing in Middle East conflict and terrorism; a major in theIsraeli Defense Force reserves; the Deputy Chief of Staff forPopulation for the Northern Region of Israel in Home Front Command;and a professor at the University of Haifa. He consumes andexamines news and intelligence on the region daily, and his opinioncarries weight.

“Saddam’s Iraq was a dangerous country,” Chodoff said. “Thepeople making the general decisions are making good decisions -whether it works in the field or not is another question.”

Traveling the country on a weeklong tour with America’s largestpro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee,Chodoff stopped in Brookhaven Wednesday to speak to a joint meetingof the Lions and Kiwanis clubs. Some things he could discussfreely, others he could not disclose. Chodoff’s address to theclubs was off the record, but on the record questions were allowedfollowing the event.

Chodoff left no doubts in naming the greatest threat to bothAmerica and Israel today – the nation of Iran.

It’s obvious that Israel is threatened by that nation, with itsadvancing race to acquire nuclear power and arms and the jarringpromise by its leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to “wipe Israel off themap.”

But Iran is working against America, too, Chodoff said, usingits agent terrorist organization Hezbollah to slip agents into thecountry across the Mexican border.

“Some of them are being picked up. If you’re finding five,you’re missing 50,” he said. “They’re finding Quorans along theborder, picking up guys with tattoos written in Farsi (language),which comes from Iran.”

Chodoff pointed out classic terrorist operating states are weaknations, not necessarily strong Muslim states. He said Hezbollahhas been operating in the weaker nations of South America fordecades, especially in Venezuela, where President Hugo Chavezcultivates terrorists’ presence.

They’re learning how to speak Spanish and how to infiltrate theborder into the U.S., Chodoff said. And their ways are rubbing offon the Latino criminal world – the method of execution by beheadingthat drug cartels are using along the border these days was pickedup by Hezbollah influences, he said.

“Their intentions? Not good,” Chodoff said. “By the time you seethem, it’s too late. When I speak to police and counter-terroristsI tell them when the terrorist gets to First Street and Main, allyou can do is try to limit the casualities.”

By then, it’s too late.

“You want to stop it? Stop it at the source – Lebanon and Iran,”he said.