Tehran and the Science of Pro Football

March 26th, 2014
It became obvious in early March Iran’s mullahs are not American football fans.

Several years ago, NBC aired the television series “The Science of NFL Football.” One episode, entitled the “Pythagorean Theorem,” explained the math equation confronting players in certain situations where defenders zero in on stopping a ball carrier.

Envision the following scenario:

A ball carrier, on his one-yard line in the far left corner of the football field, needs to run straight down the sideline 99 yards to reach the goal line. A defensive player, on the same one-yard line but in the far right corner, knows he has to intercept the ball carrier before reaching that goal line. This means taking the shortest possible route-the hypotenuse of the right triangle created-to reach the ball carrier short of the end zone. In this instance, the shortest possible route is a straight line.

On March 5th, the Israelis showed they understood this football principle. Playing the role of defense on a field of international intrigue, they took a straight line approach to stop an Iranian offense.

As the crow flies, the distance between Damascus, Syria, and the Gaza Strip is only 175 miles.

Iran’s mullahs-no aficionados of either American football or the Pythagorean theorem-failed to follow the hypotenuse to traverse between these two points. To disguise a sinister intent, they chose to pursue a meandering route to reach their goal line.

A mysterious shipment left Damascus weeks ago to begin a journey by air, land and sea that eventually would cover almost thirty times the necessary straight line distance before its transit was prematurely terminated.

The shipment initially drew the attention of Israeli intelligence analysts late last year when suspiciously, long boxes were observed being transported to Damascus International Airport and later loaded into a cargo plane.

Analysts believed the boxes contained Syrian-made M-302 rockets capable of carrying 375-pound warheads to a target 125 miles away. The shipment was closely monitored as it began a 5000 mile trek demonstrating the shipper’s determination to disguise its final destination.

Once loaded, the aircraft departed Damascus, landing in Tehran. Following a modus operandi often employed by Iran to smuggle weapons (Tehran is the biggest state sponsor of international terrorism-especially in the Middle East), the boxes of rockets were then placed into selected cargo containers and hidden under shipments of legitimate goods, such as cement. For ease of identification by the recipient once the shipment reached its destination, only containers holding the illegal contraband were marked with a white stripe.

The next phase of the journey saw the rockets move overland to Iran’s southern port of Bandar Abbas. There, a civilian cargo ship, the “Kloc C,” awaited their delivery and loading. The ship set sail under a Panamanian flag.

From Bandar Abbas, Kloc C sailed up the Persian Gulf to the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr. This phase of the journey-where most civilian cargo containers are loaded-was for falsification purposes to disguise the shipment’s origin and to wipe clean Iran’s fingerprints. This resulted in a five day delay before the ship departed for Sudan’s Port Sudan.

In the Red Sea, in what was just about a thousand mile straight line intercept, Kloc C was stopped by an Israeli commando force about a hundred miles off the Sudan-Eritrean coastline. The vessel was then escorted to the Israeli port of Eilat for off-loading and further investigation.

Had the Israelis failed to undertake this action, the shipment-upon reaching Port Sudan-would have been further transported through Sudan to Egypt, across the Sinai and into Gaza. There, in the hands of Hamas, the rockets would have been distributed to numerous pre-determined firing positions to be stockpiled for later use both by Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Countless Israeli civilians ultimately would have paid with their lives when Hamas chose next to flip the switch to an aggressive mode.

Code-named “Full Disclosure,” the operation represented the culmination, primarily of Israeli, but also some U.S. intelligence collection efforts. Although the ship had tried to obfuscate the shipment’s final destination transiting the Persian Gulf, the Straits of Hormuz, to Iraq, and then back again, Israel-recognizing Israeli lives were at stake-never took its eyes off the ball.

Despite this latest evidence of Iran’s continuing efforts to stir up trouble in the region as its negotiators smile across the table at ours, President Obama says it will not disrupt efforts to reach an agreement with Tehran on its nuclear program.

Apparently, Obama does not watch professional football either. As Tehran continues its run down the sideline to cross the nuclear goal line, Obama continues to meander, refusing to take a straight line approach to stop the mullahs from getting there.


Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (Ret.), is a retired Marine infantry officer who served in the Vietnam war, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Gulf war. He is the author of “Bare Feet, Iron Will–Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam’s Battlefields,” “Living the Juche Lie: North Korea’s Kim Dynasty” and “Doomsday: Iran–The Clock is Ticking.” He frequently writes on foreign policy and defense issues.

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