U.S. BELIEVES FORCES ARE UNDER THREAT FROM LITTLE-DISCUSSED TERROR ORGANIZATION IN SOUTHERN IRAQ, INTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL TELLS TIME

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New York – The U.S. believes its forces are under threat from the Mujahideen-e Khalk, a little-discussed terrorist organization that operates in southern Iraq opposed to the government in Tehran, a senior intelligence official told TIME. "That will be an important thing to watch," says the official. "They’ve been generously supplied and supported by the regime."

The U.S. has what it considers credible evidence that some Scud missiles have eluded detection in western Iraq, within striking distance of Israel, TIME’s Romesh Ratnesar reports in this week’s issue. "We’re not out of the woods yet," a senior U.S. intelligence official tells TIME. Saddam may have "a Scud or two that he’s saving for the right moment," the official adds, noting that coalition forces are hunting the western desert for missile launchers, TIME reports.

U.S. military officials believe the Iraqi command circulated copies of the movie Black Hawk Down before the war, as a manual for defeating the Americans. The film tells the story of 18 U.S. Army Rangers who were killed by Somali mobs in an attempt to rescue comrades from two helicopters downed in Mogadishu in 1993, TIME reports.

The standoff in Basra underscored a central dilemma facing the war planners as they plot their final assault on Saddam’s regime: the longer the allies remain handcuffed by their desire to limit collateral damage, the longer the conflict will be—and, perhaps, the deadlier for coalition troops. "The war ultimately will boil down to how many of our soldiers we are willing to sacrifice to keep dead Iraqi civilians off al-Jazeera," says an officer on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, TIME reports.

Online at http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1101030407-438861,00.html # # #