The Rosett Report

North Korea's Terrorist Ties? Hezbollah's Uncut $100 bills?

In its efforts this year to appease North Korea, the State Department has already engaged in enough contortions to earn Condoleezza Rice and special envoy Chris Hill top billing at the Cirque du Soleil. This includes State’s finagling toward removing Kim Jong Il’s regime from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Now comes a Congressional Research Service report listing fresh open source news “from reputable sources” of recent North Korean support for terrorist groups, including Hezbollah. Among these items, the CRS report cites a French internet publication, Paris Intelligence Online, as reporting in Sept. 2006 on an “extensive” North Korean program which began in the 1980s with Hezbollah cadres going from Lebanon to North Korea for training, and expanded after 2000 with North Koreans coming to Lebanon “to provide arms and training to Hezbollah.” According to this account, the North Koreans helped Hezbollah develop the underground network of bunkers for storing weapons, food, and so forth, which Hezbollah used in the war it launched on Israel in the summer of 2006.

Such stories are hell to prove. And in the rush to please Pyongyang, our top diplomats seem so lost in fantasy these days that I’m not sure facts would sway them anyway. So let’s engage in a bit of whimsy. Given North Korea’s long record of counterfeiting U.S. currency, that story of North Koreans tutoring Hezbollah sure does call to mind an intriguing scene from one of Hezbollah’s strongholds in southern Lebanon, which flashed through the war news in the summer of 2006. Remember that film clip aired by NBC, meant to focus on the destruction wrought by an Israeli attack on Sidon? — except in panning across the debris, the NBC camera also happened to show what looked like a stack of sheets of uncut $100 bills. Opinionjournal’s James Taranto noted it at the time, and Little Green Footballs put up a post with a still-viable link to the film clip.

Do these dots deserve connecting? I don’t know. But if anyone out there wants to write a thriller about this gang, there are the makings here of a pretty good plot.