A little-noticed train accident in Turkey last month offered new clues about alleged Iranian efforts to stir up trouble in the Mideast. The train was carrying two shipping containers of explosives and small to medium-size weapons like rocket-launcher pads, according to U.S. officials and a Turkish news report. Three U.S. officials familiar with current intel, who asked for anonymity due to the sensitive topic, told NEWSWEEK they believe the train was ferrying the equipment from Iran to Syria; from there, they believe, it would have been sent to the Lebanese movement Hizbullah, a longtime client of Tehran. Authorities believe the train derailed after Kurdish separatists blew up the tracks.
One of the U.S. officials said that during last summer's war between Hizbullah and Israel, Iran air-freighted munitions to Lebanon via Damascus. Since then, two of the officials indicated, intel agencies believe Tehran has sent several trainloads of weapons to its Lebanese allies; the train that crashed is the first such shipment ever intercepted. Intel officials see mounting evidence that Iran is arming anti-American forces. Iran has sent weapons to Shia militias in Iraq, and there's some evidence that Iranian operatives have also sent arms to Sunni insurgents, as well as to resurgent Taliban forces in Afghanistan. Two of the U.S. officials said that many U.S. analysts believe someone high up in the Tehran regime must be authorizing the arms deliveries. But one U.S. and two British officials (who, concerned about diplomatic sensitivity, also asked for anonymity) said there was no smoking-gun intercept or document proving the ayatollahs' complicity.