A Time for America to Act on Iran
Republished: August 12, 2012
Reza Kahlili Iranian American Spy Author
As a CIA spy, I saw in Iran what the West cannot ignore.
We must defend freedom in Iran soon – or deal with nuclear-armed fanatics later.
Today the West must make one of the most important decisions of our era. Will we defend what remains of democracy and freedom in Iran, or will we succumb to Tehran's murderous government?
It's a question that goes to the heart of our own security. Iran is a thugocracy of Islamic mullahs, and it will soon have nuclear arms. Any misconception about the intentions of fanatics with nuclear bombs will have grave consequences.
I know because I spent years alongside them as a CIA spy working undercover in Iran's Revolutionary Guards starting in the 1980s.
The Guards Corps was set up as a check on the regular Army and to serve and secure the Islamic revolution. Thirty years of Western appeasement hasn't stopped them from terrorizing the West – or Iranians. Today, with Tehran's leaders caught in a power struggle over the June 12 election and the legitimacy of the regime, the Guards, led by zealots, are calling the shots.
The Guards – and the hardliner clerics they protect – are vulnerable, however. This summer's grass-roots uprising have put them on the defensive. A strong Western hand now could tip the balance.
We don't have a moment to lose. If we can't upend the Guards now, how can we do so once they have nuclear bombs?
Washington could lead the way by refusing to recognize President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who earlier today took the oath of office for his second, four-year term. Instead, the United States should demand the freedom – and the freedom of speech – for all who've been arrested and tortured in recent weeks. And we should toughen sanctions to include cutting off Iran's gasoline supplies.
The people of Iran are desperate for a show of support from the West. By standing with them, we can uphold our duty to defend democracy and take a stand for the security of the free world.
Such a stand would mark a radical policy change. For the past 30 years, the West has tried very hard to appease Iran's mullahs.
In the 1980s, I helped make known a secret pact between Iranian mullahs and some European governments. Thirsty for Iranian oil, the Europeans gave the go-ahead to Iranian agents to assassinate opposition members abroad without interference, as long as European citizens were not at risk. Hundreds of dissidents were gunned down.
The US has also been guilty of trying to appease the mullahs. Almost every administration after the 1979 Iranian Revolution has tried in vain to create better relations through back channels. Yet those efforts haven't stopped Iran's rulers from arming terrorists, taking hostages, and suppressing their own people.
The brutal killing of Iranians by their leaders that we're seeing today is nothing new. Ruling clerics have been killing political opponents, along with their families and friends, for 30 years – but inside prison walls.
I've been inside those walls and I've seen teenage girls who were raped before execution so they were no longer virgins and therefore, according to their Islamic beliefs, couldn't go to heaven. I've seen hundreds hung on cranes. I've seen women and men lined up in front of firing squads after being severely tortured; their families would be forced to pay for the cost of the bullets. Western officials were quite aware that this was happening, but they let their thirst for oil blind them.
Today, however, the screams of Iranians young and old calling for democracy and freedom cannot be ignored. The post-election uprising has started the countdown of the end of the thugocracy in Iran. This is the desire of the Iranian people. It should be our desire, too.
So far, the West has kept fairly quiet about Iran's unrest. President Obama and others say they don't want to give credence to Tehran's claims of a Western conspiracy behind the protests. And by not ruffling the regime's feathers, they hope to negotiate improved ties and resolve the nuclear impasse.
But how do you negotiate with a government composed of terrorists?
Right now, the Revolutionary Guards have near-complete control of Iran. This terrorist organization is expanding its power throughout the Middle East. Its ultimate goal is to bring the demise of the West.
With the help of North Korea, the Guards are working on long-range ballistic missiles in tests that are concealed by their space project.
The Guards have also accelerated their production of Sejil, solid fuel missiles, and are working nonstop to improve the range of those missiles. Today they can strike Tel Aviv, Riyadh, US bases in Iraq, and the US Navy's Fifth Fleet headquarters in Bahrain. Their goal is to be able to target all of Europe.
The Guards are also working on their nuclear bomb project in facilities unknown to the West.
Iran's defense minister, Mostafa Najjar, who oversees the development of missile and nuclear technology, was in charge of the Revolutionary Guards forces in Lebanon that facilitated the attack on the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut on Oct. 23, 1983, killing 241 US servicemen.
The current deputy defense minister, Ahmad Vahidi, who oversees the distribution of arms and missiles to terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and Hamas, was the commander of the Guards' elite Quds Forces and the chief intelligence officer of the Guards in charge of the terrorist activities outside of Iran.
Mr. Vahidi is currently on Interpol's Most Wanted List for the attack on the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires on July 18, 1994 that killed 85 and injured more than 100.
Many Iranian officials have Interpol arrest warrants, and even supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei has been recognized in courts as one who has ordered such acts.
Fanatic radicals such as these are incompatible with a free Iran. This is the best opportunity in 30 years to change course and stop succumbing to thugs. Will we seize it?
A Time for America to Act on Iran
It is becoming increasingly clear that President Obama's policies toward Iran have failed and that disaster is in the offing. President Obama began his relationship with the radical mullahs in Iran determined to show that he represents a new America and that he is truly seeking friendship between the two nations. This has proven to be dreadfully misguided.
The president pursued two tracks at once. First, he initiated the appeasement process by sending his greetings to the mullahs for the Iranian New Year, calling the country "the Islamic Republic of Iran" and therefore legitimizing the rule of the mullahs. He then sent letters to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, stating that he did not intend to interfere with the way the mullahs ruled and that he wished to resolve any issues between Iran and the USA. President Obama then went even farther and ordered the release of five Quds force commanders captured by U.S. armed forces in Irbil, Iraq in 2007. He did this in spite of the fact that those commanders and their organization had successfully orchestrated the killing of hundreds of our soldiers in Iraq. President Obama then refrained from strongly criticizing the regime in its brutal clampdown of its citizens after the fraudulent elections of June 2009 and offered an easy way out for the Iranian regime in the negotiations held in Geneva last October regarding Iran's uranium enrichment activities.
If the first track was the carrot, the other track was the stick. Obama prepared punishments in case the Iranians did not respond favorably to his gestures. He started by scrapping the missile defense shield program in Eastern Europe to satisfy the Russians in an effort to get them to cooperate with him on Iran. He bowed to Chinese demands to give Iran sufficient time to respond to his initiatives and avoid condemning the Iranian government for their treatment of their citizens in the hopes that China would help him if stronger remedies became necessary.
It has been a year since the president began to implement this dual-track policy. The first track has failed because the mullahs have responded by disregarding every deadline set for action, continuing to exert their iron will on their people, rejecting the very generous offer made by the 5+1 in Geneva of our providing nuclear fuel in exchange for their enriched uranium, and for the first time since the start of their nuclear program, they now claim to have enriched uranium to the 20% level and the capability to enrich to a level necessary to make a nuclear bomb. As Ahmadinejad put it, "Iran is now a nuclear state."
The second track has failed because President Obama has not gained the cooperation from China and Russia he sought in dealing with Iran. He has called for crippling sanctions should the mullahs fail to comply with his nuclear demands, but China has not agreed to go along with these sanctions, and Russia is still cautioning against such action. As a result, any U.N. sanctions will be nothing more than a watered down resolution without any serious effect on the Iranian government.
Meanwhile, the mullahs have pursued their own dual track much more successfully: They've managed to continue their uranium enrichment program despite three sets of U.N. sanctions in place, while at the same time keeping the West confused about how to approach them successfully.
It's time for us to take a more aggressive stance. The American flag stands for more than two centuries of struggle, sacrifice, and bravery by courageous citizens in defense of freedom, democracy, and justice. It represents the very principles that make our enemies despise us. Whenever we have stepped back from those principles in the spirit of appeasement or for purely political reasons, we have guided our country and the world into a troubled future. President Carter, for instance, called the Ayatollah Khomeini "a man of God" immediately after the overthrow of the shah, and that man of God responded by seizing the American Embassy and taking the staff hostage. Carter believed that an Islamic regime in Iran would be advantageous to U.S. policies in confronting the Soviet Union. Instead, it fostered the growth of Islamic fanaticism that continues to plague us. However, when we have stood tall and called out evil, we have shaped a better future for all humankind. President Reagan did just that by standing strong against communism, bringing freedom to hundreds of millions of people, and changing the world for the better.
My years with the Revolutionary Guards in Iran taught me that the mullahs believe in a god that hates, who seeks the blood of all non-believers -- including their own citizens -- and who calls for jihad against all non-Muslims. The fanatics in Iran believe that that same god requires them to bring the world to chaos -- where many die and others experience hunger and lawlessness -- so Imam Mahdi will reappear, kill the rest of the infidels, and raise the flag of Islam everywhere on our planet. No Western leader will ever be able to reach accord with people who feel this way. President Obama needs to realize this before an atrocity greater than 9/11 happens on our shores.
The Revolutionary Guards' ballistic missile program already covers all U.S. military bases in the Middle East and all of Israel. All of Europe will soon be within their missile range. The Guards have also successfully tested launching ballistic missiles from ships in pursuit of their nuclear agenda. This could lead to an electromagnetic pulse attack on American soil that could cripple civilian and military communications and take down our very infrastructure.
The radicals ruling Iran are just like suicide bombers, whose only goal is to attain paradise while bringing about our demise. The ruling clerics have a long history of terrorist activities against the U.S. and its interests across the world. The current defense minister of Iran, Ahmad Vahidi, who is in close collaboration with al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups, is the former Quds force commander who masterminded many terrorist activities and is currently on Interpol's most-wanted list.
In this defining moment of history, where Iranians are sacrificing their lives to seek freedom, we should not seek to appease their oppressors. We should call upon our proud history to defeat evil -- and we can do this without firing a single bullet.
Assuming China and Russia will continue to be uncooperative (a safe assumption, given their history), we should work with the heads of Europe to take the following actions:
- Cut all diplomatic ties with Iran, recalling all Western embassy personnel.
- Order all Iranian representatives from embassies, shipping lines, banks, and airlines to leave all Western countries immediately.
- Close all Western airspace to flights going to or from Iran.
- Shut down all Western seaports to ships going to or from Iran.
- Shut down all Iranian government media broadcasts into Western countries in retaliation of their blockade of such broadcasts into Iran.
- Freeze all assets of Iranian rulers and the Guards in Western banks.
- Order arrest warrants for crimes against humanity for all Iranian leaders involved in killing innocent civilians.
We then need to make these demands:
- An immediate stop of all Iranian nuclear activities.
- A free election supervised by the United Nations.
- The release of all political prisoners and a complete halt in the execution of political opponents and religious minorities.
- The right to peaceful demonstration and freedom of speech for all Iranians.
President Obama must accept that what we do today will shape our world in the future -- and waiting until tomorrow might be too late. His dual-track strategy has failed him. He must now take the only track that leads to a free Iran.
Imam says Nuclear Weapons are Forbidden in Islam!
Iran’s leaders say nuclear weapons are forbidden by Islamic law. What I’ve seen suggests otherwise.
Muslims use the word Haraam to describe any act forbidden under the rules of Islam. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, recently declared that Iran could not possibly be working on a nuclear bomb because doing so would be Haraam.
“We have often said that our religious tenets and beliefs consider these kinds of weapons of mass destruction to be symbols of genocide and are, therefore, forbidden,” he asserted in February. “This is why we ... do not seek them.”
At a time when President Obama and Western allies are confronting Iran over its suspected nuclear program, some in the West took solace in the supreme leader’s assurance. Such solace is foolhardy.
First, Mr. Khamenei does not hold a sufficient position to declare any act as Haraam. Only a mujtahid, an Islamic scholar, has such authority.
However, when Khamenei was appointed as supreme leader in 1989, he was not considered qualified to be a mujtahid, let alone an ayatollah. He attained the title of ayatollah virtually overnight amid a highly disputed succession process.
Second, Khamenei ignores the fact that, in the mid-1980s, Mohsen Rezaei, then chief commander of the Revolutionary Guards, got Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s permission to develop nuclear bombs. As a CIA agent in the Revolutionary Guards then, I learned of this nascent effort and reported it to my handlers. The Iranians approached several sources, including Abdul Qadeer Khan, father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb. His account of Iran’s bid to buy atomic bombs from Pakistan was reported very recently.
Say one thing, do another
That Khamenei has chosen to conceal Iran’s nuclear program shouldn’t be surprising. He also claims that the Iranian government doesn’t condone torture, that the recent Iranian election was just and proof that his nation is a real democracy, and that Iran is not involved in terrorism.
Islamic teaching considers the spilling of blood during the Islamic month of Muharram to be Haraam. Yet that didn’t stop the regime’s troops from slaughtering unarmed protesters last year on Ashura, one of Shiite Islam’s holiest days.
Khamenei considers the Koran to be the ultimate source of guidance. One Quranic tenet is that you should deceive your enemies until you are strong enough to destroy them. Khamenei is employing this when he makes his declarations to the West.
Within Iran, radical Islamists have grown in power since Grand Ayatollah Khomeini’s death in 1989. Even Khomeini – an extremist by any reasonable definition – saw them as too fanatic and tried to keep them in check.
These radicals belong to a secret society called the Hojjatieh. It’s essentially a cult devoted to the reappearance of the 12th imam, Mahdi, and Islam’s conquest of the world. To achieve that end, the radicals believe they must foment chaos, famine, and lawlessness that they must destroy Israel, and that world order must come to an abrupt halt.
Long ago, my best friend and commander in the Revolutionary Guards reminded me of a hadith, a saying from the prophet Muhammad, about Imam Mahdi: “During the last times, my people will be afflicted with terrible and unprecedented calamities and misfortunes from their rulers, so much so that this vast earth will appear small to them. Persecution and injustice will engulf the earth. The believers will find no shelter to seek refuge from these tortures and injustices. At such a time, Allah will rise from my progeny a man who will establish peace and justice on this earth in the same way as it had been filled with injustice and distress.”
The Hojjatieh see any movement toward peace and democracy as delaying Mahdi’s reappearance.
Although he strenuously denies it, Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi reportedly sits at the top of this secret society. He is an influential member of the Assembly of Experts (the body that chooses the supreme leader), an adviser to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the founder of the Haghani School that teaches the most radical Shiite beliefs.
The teachers and students of this school run some of the most important political and security institutions in the Iranian government, including the Ministry of Intelligence, which is involved in organizing death squads against the opposition and coordinating terrorist activities against the West.
Ayatollah Janati, the powerful chairman of the Guardian Council, is also associated with the school. Yazdi, Janati, and Mojtaba Khamenei (Ayatollah Khamenei’s son) were central to President Ahmadinejad’s fraudulent reelection last June and the suppression of the opposition, and they are directing the supreme leader regarding the nuclear program.
A wake-up call for the West
It is difficult for the West to understand this ideology. We find it astounding that Iranian leaders seem to be instigating an international confrontation. But we can’t afford the luxury of confusion.
We can’t allow Khamenei’s statements to deceive us. Whether it is Haraam or not, Iran is almost certainly developing nuclear weapons and an Islamic Republic of Iran with atomic bombs would strongly destabilize the world.
The choices are clear: We can either rise up to our principles and defend the aspirations of the Iranian people for a free and democratic government, or we can continue with our vacillation and indecision, allowing Iran to become a nuclear-armed state.
Instead of counting on watered-down United Nations sanctions, the West should cut off all diplomatic ties with Iran, close down all airspace and seaports going to or from Iran, sanction all companies doing business with Iran, and cut off its gasoline supply. We should then demand an immediate halt to all Iranian nuclear and missile delivery activities and the right to peaceful demonstration and freedom of speech for all Iranians. And if that fails, a military action should be in the cards.
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