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A Taste of Their Own Medicine - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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It is not often that I find myself in agreement with the present rulers of Iran. In the past few days, however, I have caught myself nodding in consent when reading or hearing statements by a string of regime dignitaries, starting with the “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei.

These statements had a central message: terrorism is a despicable crime that cannot be justified on any grounds.

The trouble is that those who make such statements belong to a regime that has used terror as a tool of internal and external policies for 30 years.

The regime’s reputation as a Mafia-like outfit is such that some Iranians see the latest terrorist carnage in Baluchistan, in which at least 62 people died, as an “insider job”.

Last Sunday’s terrorist attack, in the village of Sarbaz, close to the Pakistani frontier, cost the lives of at least several senior commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the regime’s ultimate protector.

Was it by chance that at least four of them, including General Nur-Ali Shushtari who was in line to become commander of the IRGC, had attracted some attention thanks to their refusal to endorse President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election last June?

Not surprisingly, the first reaction of most Iranians in the face of such incidents is to suspect the regime itself.

Internally, the regime is suspected of involvement in scores of assassinations, including the murder of dozens of revolutionary figures in the early phases of the Islamic Republic. The history of the past 30 years is full of mysterious incidents in which mullahs, politicians and military figures were removed through “accidents” or incidents presented as terrorist attacks.

Since 1979, when the mullahs seized power, hit squads from Tehran have assassinated 117 Iranian activists in 18 foreign countries, from India to the United States and passing by Britain and France.

Today, 22 Iranians are in prison in eight countries on charges of terrorism. Four top Khomeinist officials, including the “Supreme Guide”, and a former President of the Islamic Republic, have been charged with murder by the Berlin Criminal Court in Germany. Twenty-eight senior Khomeinist officials, including the newly appointed Minister of Defence Ahmad Vahidi, are subject to Interpol arrest warrants on terrorism charges.

Tehran is the only capital in the world where virtually all terrorist groups from across the globe maintain offices and “information centres.” Every year, from 1 to 11 February, the Islamic Republic hosts a series of special events known as “Ten Days of Dawn” in which terrorist figures from all over the world, including atheist and Marxist groups, come together to coordinate what they describe as their global “armed struggle.”

The Islamic Republic has created a special elite force, known as the Quds (Jerusalem) Corps, for the purpose of “exporting revolution” through violence and terror. The Islamic Foreign Ministry also contains a department known as “Office for Exporting Revolution.”

Senior Khomeinist officials have often boasted that their regime was the first to introduce suicide attacks in the Middle East. The “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei, an amateur poet in his spare time, has even committed a number of odes in praise of Hezbollah suicide-bombers who wreaked havoc in Beirut in the 1980s.

To be sure, the Khomeinist regime claims that there is a difference between groups that it backs and those that attack it inside Iran. The Baluch Jundallah, blamed for the latest carnage in Sarbaz, and the Mujahedin Khalq, who have murdered many Khomeinist officials, are described as terrorist agents of foreign powers.

However, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, the Mahdi Army in Iraq, and the Hizb Islami in Afghanistan, are lauded as “resistance movements” because they follow Iran’s policies.

Tehran blames a number of countries, including Pakistan, for allegedly harboring terrorists. When it comes to the terrorists that Iran itself harbors, however, we are told that they are “refugees” or “asylum seekers.”

People in Tehran know that dozens of Taliban, Al Qaeda and Hizb Islami leaders and operatives live in Iran, mostly in a string of villages along the border with Afghanistan in an area sealed by the IRGC.

Afghan authorities are aware of an Iranian scheme to arm tens of thousands of Shiite Hazara fighters to seize control of Kabul when and if the Americans run away and leave the newly liberated nation defenceless.

It is also an open secret that Iran has been funding at least two armed Baluch groups engaged in a rebellion against the Pakistani government.

Also in Pakistan, Iran has recruited, trained and armed dozens of so-called “self-defence” units attached to the Shiite movement Tehrik Jaafari.

In Turkey, 37 people are in prison on charges of plotting or carrying out terrorist operations on behalf of Tehran. In the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan, the authorities have uncovered a series of plots orchestrated from Tehran, and shut down dozens of front organizations.

Neighboring Iraq is also a scene of terrorist activities by the Islamic Republic. Since 2005, Iraqi authorities, including Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, have presented Iran with “a mountain of evidence” on the activities of terror groups linked to Tehran.

“Today, Iran is responsible for 80 per cent of terrorism in our country,” an Iraqi Cabinet minister tells me on condition of anonymity.

There is also ample evidence showing that the current armed uprising in Yemen, known as the Houthi revolt, enjoys massive Iranian support.

Khomeinist officials and media make no secret of the regime’s support for the terror groups mentioned above. In some cases, they even take pride in the tragedies that those groups trigger in so many different countries.

According to the old adage, one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter.

The truth, however, is that one man’s terrorist is every man’s terrorist.

One cannot divide terrorists into good and bad. For no cause or ideal could ever justify random killing of people in no position to defend themselves.

The killing of IRGC officers is as evil as was the mass murder of American and French soldiers asleep in their barracks in Beirut.

Last Sunday’s terror operation gave the Khomeinist regime a taste of its own medicine.

Amir Taheri

Amir Taheri

Amir Taheri was the executive editor-in-chief of the daily Kayhan in Iran from 1972 to 1979. He has worked at or written for innumerable publications, published eleven books, and has been a columnist for Asharq Al-Awsat since 1987. Mr. Taheri has won several prizes for his journalism, and in 2012 was named International Journalist of the Year by the British Society of Editors and the Foreign Press Association in the annual British Media Awards.

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