َModern terrorism started with the 1979 Iranian Revolution
By Assad Homayoun
SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Tuesday, December 4, 2001
Following are excerpts from a speech, "Iran — the clerical regime and international terrorism," by Dr. Assad Homayoun to the Strategy 2001 Conference on Nov. 30 in Washington, D.C. The conference was sponsored by the International Strategic Studies Association.
One question asked repeatedly after the Sept. 11th incident was and is about the reasons behind the fundamentalists' hate for the United States. A reflection upon the words and the deeds of the clerical regime in Iran will provide the answer. We need to look to the anti-U.S. Propaganda started by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and continued by his faithful followers, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Hojjatoleslam Ali Akbar Rafsanjani and other ruling clerics in Iran. Over the past 23 years, the mullah regime has been supplying fuel to machine of political Islam and spending hundreds of million of dollars annually to instigate Muslims and prepare them to rise against the "Great Satan" the United States of America. Two military organizations-the intelligence section of the Revolutionary Guards (Edarehe Hefazat va Ettelaate Sepah) and QUDS (the Islamic name for Jerusalem) Forces-both subordinate only to the Supreme Leader, are responsible for exporting Islamic revolution and supporting international terrorism. All their covert and often heinous activities are coordinated by the Ministry of Intelligence of the Islamic Republic.
The Iranian Revolution of 1979, was the most important watershed in the campaign of Fundamentalists against the United States. In Muslim countries the Islamists concluded that since radical clerics succeeded in overthrowing the Shah and forcing the U.S. out of Iran, they too could overthrow their regimes and succeed in finally defeating the United States. Over the past two decades, the message of the fundamentalist clerics of Iran disseminated through uninterrupted and malicious propaganda has been phenomenally effective in reaching and impacting the Islamists as well as international terrorists worldwide. And the mullahs have, for the first time, put their money where their mouth is! They have coupled their preaching with sustained financial, political and logistical support for all extremist Islamist groups and organizations worldwide.
The Tehran regime's condemnation of Osama Bin Laden and the Taleban rulers of Afghanistan should not mislead the American public and Administration. The regime has 2 tactical reasons for taking this position today, neither of which has anything to do with the clerics softening their positions towards the United States. First it should be noted that Bin Laden and the Taleban are, from the Iranian clerics' point of view, the "wrong Islamic sect". The Taliban and Bin Laden are Sunni, while the Iranian clerics are Shiite. Secondly, the clerics have always been sympathetic to and supported parts of the Northern Alliance, which included the Shiite Hezareh Afghans as well as Farsi speaking Tajiks. But when all the chips are down, fighting America and advancing the cause of fundamentalist- i.e. primitive-Islam, is the goal shared by the clerics, the Taliban, and Osama Bin Laden.
Another explanation for the Iranian rulers' condemnation of the terrorist acts of September 11 is that they have their own agenda as well as interpretation of terrorism. Their modus operandi has always been to resort to dissimulation and double talk in order to deceive and buy time to pursue their goal of propagating radical Islam. Moreover the clergy regime considers itself the voice of revolutionary Islam and wants to preserve this role. Presently, Many international terrorists including Imad Mughniyeh, Ahmad Moghassel and those involved in the Khobar Tower bombing in Saudi Arabia, are sheltered, supported and apparently receiving extra training in Iran.
As mentioned before, an examination of the 23 years history of the clerical regime will shed light over the thriving state of international terrorism today. With the ascension of Ayatollah Khomeini to power, the revolutionary regime devised a grand strategy that has been characterized by a blend of zeal and pragmatism. Since 1979, the clerical regime's strategy has been expressed through a dual approach of combining the aspiration for a global utopian Islamic empire with pragmatic regional objectives. Ayatollah Khomeini and the Islamic nomenclature reconciled the two objectives when they determined that they would lead the International Islamic revolution, initially at least, in the Near East, and subsequently develop it into a global Jihad against the United States and its allies.
This regional struggle, Tehran emphasized, was a component of a global confrontation with the US. Indeed government sponsored terrorism started in 1979 when the American Embassy in Tehran was attacked, and Ayatollah Khomeini approved the kidnapping of 52 U.S. diplomatic personnel who were held hostage for four hundred forty-four days.
Ayatollah Khomeini was the first to start the verbal war against the U.S. He told the Iranian masses, "America cannot do anything, and if in war with infidels you kill or be killed you will be happy and will go to paradise".
In 1979, a group of armed men, led by a Shiite youth named Mohammad Abdollah, occupied the Grand Mosque in Mecca while there were over fifty thousand worshipers praying. Almost immediately, the propaganda machine of the Islamic Republic went to work announced over radio waves across the Muslim world that it was quite likely that the criminal U.S. imperialists perpetrated the act!
When the U.S. ordered air attacks of Libyan air bases during the Reagan administration, Dr. Ali Akbar Velayati, then foreign minister of the Islamic Republic, visited Libya, and in a joint statement with the Libyans, stated, "the American aggression is a crusade by America and the Zionist enemy against Islam and Muslims. Libya and Iran would confront such a crusade with all their might and seek to mobilize one billion Muslims in this battle to defend their religion."
Again, in 1979, when the U.S embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan was set on fire, and in Rawalpindi and Lahore, when the American Library and cultural centers were attacked, Ayatollah Khomeini said, "…. it is a great joy for us to learn about the uprising in Pakistan against the Americans. It is good news for our oppressed nation."
On January 14, 1980, a group of 120 Pakistani army officers on a pilgrimage to the city of Gom visited Ayatollah Khomeini. The Ayatollah told them, "We are at war against the infidels. Take this message with you. I ask all Islamic nations, all Muslims, all Islamic armies and heads of Islamic states to join the Holly War. There are many enemies to be killed or destroyed. Jihad must triumph."
From the very beginning, the clerics reiterated their commitment to the global character of Islamic Revolution and its export around the world. In a July, 1982 sermon, Khomeini argued "Muslims should unite and defeat America. America and the West's lifeline depends on this regions oil."
The ruling clerics of Iran had a central role in Beirut bombings of 1983-84. The Hezballah of Lebanon, which was founded by these same Iranian mullahs, bombed the U.S. embassy in April 1983, the U.S. Marine barracks in October 1983, and the U.S. embassy annex in September 1984, causing the death of over 200 Americans.
For the last 19 years, the Tehran regime has been supporting and financing Hezballah, and providing them with arms, training, ideological and logistical support. They have also been actively supporting Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and fundamentalist Islamist movements in Eastern Europe and the Philippines.
In his political will, Ayatollah Khomeini referred to America as the most important enemy of Islam. This is one of the reasons why in the last 23 years, Iran has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on propaganda and psychological warfare to instigate the Muslim masses against the United States. Anti-American speeches of Khomeini and other leaders of Islamic republic have been translated to 23 languages and distributed among Muslims all over the world. Also, the Radio of Islamic Republic has been broadcasting in 23 languages including Spanish for Latin America.
Since 1979, the ruling clerics have never stopped attacking the United States in theory or practice. On May 5, 1989, Hojjatoleslam Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, the first so called moderate to come to power in a post-Khomeini Iran, urged students to escalate their anti-US terrorist campaign, specifically killing Americans rather than Israelis, because "the Americans are scattered around the world, they are everywhere." Anti-American speeches and slogans have been continuing by the ruling clerics day by day without interruption.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader who replaced Khomeini, has emphasized repeatedly that terrorist organizations were an integral part of the Islamic regime's long arm!
Hojjatoleslam Ali Fallahian, former Minister of Intelligence of Islamic republic, in summer of 1992, said, "Iranian intelligence has infiltrated the highest levels of some government in some countries." He acknowledged that Iranian intelligence conducted violent covert operations including assassinations all over the world, indicating that those activities were on the increase. Indeed, in the past decades, over 120 Iranian opposition leaders and political dissidents have been assassinated by agents of the Islamic Republic.
Every year, sometimes twice a year, the Tehran regime hosts an international conference on terrorism. On April 24 and 25, 2001, the clerical regime sponsored the "International Conference For support of the Intefada and Islamic Revolution" in Tehran. In this conference, in which representatives from 35 Islamic nations and groups, including Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Hezballah participated, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Ali Akbar Rafsanjai, President Mohammad Khatami and other top clerics promised all necessary support to all who fight for the liberation of Palestine and promotion of revolutionary Islam.
The moderator and secretary of the conference was Hojjatoleslam Ali Akbar Mohtashemipour, who founded Hezballah in Lebanon and supervised the 1983 suicide bombing of US marine barracks that killed 241 Americans in Beirut. Since 1991, the Iranian Supreme Council for Security has been responsible overseeing the escalation of terrorism, bringing terrorism into the Western Hemisphere with the ultimate aim of bringing it to the U.S.
Apparently the Islamic Republic of Iran was not involved directly or indirectly in the crimes of September 11. Arab allies of the United States have declined to provide intelligence information about Hezballah and Iran's involvement with Osama Ben Laden. They also declined to provide Information regarding Iran's role in the 1996 bombing of the US military barracks in Khobar, Saudi Arabia. We, however, firmly believe that the ecumenical influence of Ayatollah Khomeini, the inflammatory pronouncements of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the call for Jihad against "the Great Satan" by other religious leaders, were decisive factors. Government support of international terrorism started with the Islamic regime in Tehran and can only end with the fall of that regime. The war against terrorism can succeed only if all its root causes are eliminated.
I believe that with the removal of clergy regime from power and the establishment of a secular democratic government in Tehran, a great source of terrorism will be removed. Once Iran becomes stable, I believe that stability will return to the region. A strong secular, democratic Iran could immensely contribute to the stability of the Middle East, the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea region.
Change in Iran is imperative if we really want to defeat terrorism. But I should emphasize that the situation in Iran is different from Afghanistan, Iraq or other such countries. The People of Iran are ready to revolt and remove the clerics from power. Crippling economic pressures coupled with stifling political and social conditions have created a volatile situation ready to erupt. Harsh repression has so far kept the situation in check. All pro-democracy newspapers supportive of the people have been shut down, the editors and writers imprisoned. Student leaders and opposition personalities have been incarcerated and tortured. For the last 23 years, the clerical regime in Tehran has suspended the fundamental rights of the Iranian people and ruined the foundation of Persian society.
In sharp contrast to the regime's behavior, the greater majority of Iranians desperately want good relations with the U.S. Almost all Iranians have condemned the despicable, evil acts of September 11. Even under the pressure of repressive elements of the regime, many Iranians-men, women, especially the students, took to the streets in many cities in sympathy with and support of the people of the United States. A candlelight vigil was held by Iranian youth in front of the Swiss Embassy, which oversees U.S. interests in Iran, for a few nights after the tragic incidents. After the first night, they were forcefully dispersed. Within a week, over 1000 youth were arrested and imprisoned on a variety of trumped-up charges.
Riots and revolt against the regime has been continuing and will continue. The people of Iran have concluded that, for this campaign, they must rely on their own power. They know that the U.S. has its own war with terrorism and for the time being and due to the present circumstances, and geopolitical necessity, has decided to accept and even flirt with the Islamic Republic. But the Iranian people have their own war too, and are determined to fight until the downfall of the government of the mullahs. I think it is important for the U.S. to know that in its war with terrorism, the people of Iran are its natural allies. It is the opinion and the hope of the people of Iran that the U.S. Administration refrain from negotiating with the unstable clerical regime in this historic time. Because in doing so, the U.S. Government will be helping perpetuate the existence of this repressive regime on one hand and neutralizing its own war on terrorist governments and terrorist supporters on the other.
I need to address an important misconception about the various 'factions' of the clerics. Many in the U.S. media as well as some so-called specialists and talking heads have referred to the group of officials around President Mohammad Khatami as "reformers," and those around the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khomenei, as "hard-liners". This is a fallacy. The ruling clerics all share the same common beliefs and goals. They firmly and unanimously believe that Iran should remain a rigid ideological state built around their vision of "revolutionary Islam" which denies fundamental freedom to its own people. They are also resolute in their opposition to the West, which they believe to be 'infidel', and therefore an enemy of Islam. And finally they are unanimous in their call for the destruction of Israel. Many in the United States have not been able to understand the anatomy of the Islamic system, failing to grasp the fact that president Khatami is chiefly, as public relation man of repressive clerical regime rather than a reformist president.
In conclusion, I strongly believe that the people can and will bring about change in Iran. What is very essential to the expedition of this process is the moral and political support of the United States of America. The Iranian people will not need U. S. military action to support them-this will even be counterproductive. They will not need help with covert action. They will not need help with funding struggle. What the Iranian people need and should receive from the international community is enthusiastic, open and direct political support. Given moral and political support to bring about and create their own democratic society, the Iranian people will become empowered to root out the main source and the principal promoter of international terrorism from this pivotal, strategic country of the Middle East.
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