Iranian Assassination Plot:

by LT. COLONEL JAMES G. ZUMWALT, USMC (RET) October 28, 2011
 
As details were released of the Iranian sponsored plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US in Washington and of a secondary plot targeting Israel’s ambassador, the undertone of the US media was one of disbelief. Directed by Iranian agents, a naturalized US citizen from Iran tried to recruit a Mexican drug cartel hit man to do the job—a hit man who turned out to be a US government informant. In announcing that one conspirator had been arrested last month, even US government officials suggested the plot sounded like something out of a Hollywood script. The official was partially correct—there is a script involved, but it is one that has been written thousands of miles away from Hollywood and, more importantly, is not fiction.
 
A disconnect exists between how we wish to perceive the theocratic government that has ruled Iran for 32 years and the reality of that leadership’s rationality. Through their appeasement policies, every US president from Jimmy Carter, who opened the door to Iran’s Islamic extremist takeover by pressing the Shah to leave and ushering in Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, to Barack Obama, who led us to believe he could talk to the Iranians, is guilty of contributing to the American perception that eventually Tehran’s mullahs would exercise reason. That has been far from the case. The Iranian leadership is devoid of rationality, only using the time that has been wasted to realize this to create a much more dangerous world. And, according to the script written in Tehran, the worst is yet to come for non-believers!
 
Iran’s theocrats view their rise to power in 1979 and their increasing global influence, coupled with the fall of US influence and our economic woes, as part of Allah’s grand design. The fact the West has done little to check Iran’s march to become a global threat by which Islam will be imposed upon the rest of the world is also part of this design. So too was the US invasion of Iraq and the Arab Spring sweeping through the Middle East. As Allah’s design allegedly plays out, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad earlier this year produced a documentary film to educate Iran’s clerics on what lies ahead.
 
The film reveals Ahmadinejad as one of three players on a world stage where chaos will soon run rampant. Other players include Iran’s current Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Hezbollah (the terrorist group in Lebanon serving as Iran’s puppet) leader Hassan Nasrallah. How this all plays out in Allah’s design is the focus of the Iranian leadership’s cultist prophecy. (Ironically, as Iran moves closer towards fulfilling this prophecy, rather than focusing on this violent cult’s religion, US presidential politics focus on raising allegations a candidate’s nonviolent religion is a cult.) But, understanding the Iranian cult’s prophecy is critical to understanding why the Saudi ambassador in the US was targeted. Ahmadinejad’s film suggests an answer—and makes clear the doom fast approaching for the West he seeks to impose.
 
Ahmadinejad is a “Twelver”—as are 90% of Iran’s Shiite population. Twelvers believe in the twelve divinely ordained imams. The twelfth supposedly disappeared as a child in the ninth century while attending the funeral of the eleventh. It is believed he ascended into a state of occultation where he remains until, like a genie in the bottle, he is released to descend to Earth.
 
However, the “stars must be in alignment” as certain events need occur before the Twelfth Imam (also known as the “Mahdi”) returns. Two of these events should be of particular concern to non-believers.
 
First, the world must be engulfed in chaos. The vast majority of Twelvers believe this chaos will evolve naturally with Mahdi returning to ease the suffering. But a small sect known as the “Hojjatieh Society” believes man can initiate the necessary chaos, thus triggering Mahdi’s return, after which he will subject the world to Shariah law and rid it of non-believers. Since Hojjatiehists yearn for Mahdi’s return, they also believe any means possible is justified to precipitate the chaos.
 
In 1984, the Society’s views were so worrisome to the late Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini—a brutal leader in his own right—that he outlawed the group. But, understanding the Hojjatieh mindset explains Ahmadinejad’s determination to possess nuclear weapons and his “end of the world” scenario, documented in his film, yet to come for non-believers.
 
This is not something we should dismiss lightly as we do with radio evangelist Harold Camping who is constantly revising the date of his “end of world” prophecy. Camping poses no threat to mankind for he leaves fulfillment of his prophecy to a Greater Power. But Ahmadinejad believes he is part of a Greater Power ordained by Prophet Muhammad to carry out his prophecy. He only awaits development of the “means” to rain chaos upon the world—and, in Ahmadinejad’s cultist world, he firmly believes the end does justify the means by which he seeks to accomplish it.
 
According to the film, the Twelfth Imam’s return is “very close” to happening. This comports with statements Ahmadinejad has made to various Middle East leaders that the return will occur before he leaves office as president in 2013. He has claimed, after speaking at the UN in 2006, his divine role in the prophecy’s fulfillment was suggested as he found himself surrounded by an aura that left all listeners spellbound. Unsurprisingly, no one else observed it.
 
Ahmadinejad has been preparing for Mahdi’s return for years. As Tehran’s mayor before becoming president, he ordered some city streets widened to accompany parades to commemorate Mahdi’s eventual return.
 
Not to be out-done by Ahmadinejad, Ayatollah Khamenei asserts Mahdi has already visited him. During this visit, the Twelfth Imam supposedly shared his return plans, telling Khamenei it would occur while he was still Supreme Leader.
 
Second, another star that must align to signal Mahdi’s return is one which might shed light on the plot to kill the Saudi ambassador.
 
 
Ahmadinejad’s film reveals Saudi Arabia factors into Mahdi’s return in two ways.
 
The first way involves the two nations’ sectarian rivalry. Because Iran and Saudi Arabia represent two different sects of Islam, Shia and Sunni respectively, religious tensions have long existed between them. For this reason, Shiites resent the fact Sunni Saudi Arabia is guardian of Islam’s two most sacred cities, Medina and Mecca.
 
Accordingly, the film mentions a military commander who will form an army to march into Mecca. That commander is Hezbollah’s Nasrallah. He will invade Saudi Arabia to wrestle Mecca from Sunni control.
 
Some Iran critics suggest the reason for the assassination plot was Tehran’s desire for retribution for Saudi Arabia’s interference with its efforts to destabilize pro-US governments in Bahrain and Yemen. The interference even prompted some of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commanders to call for military action against Saudi Arabia. But, according to the film, another reason may well exist.
 
The second way Saudi Arabia factors into the prophecy is that no invasion can occur until after Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has died. At 86 and ill, Abdullah may be close to death’s door. But having an uncertain timetable for launching world chaos and, as an Hojjitieh cultist believing he can cause a date certain for Abdullah’s demise through assassination, Ahmadinejad may have sought the King’s “symbolic” death by seeking to assassinate his personal representative in the “Great Satan’s” capital of Washington DC.
 
The US Treasury Department designated as terrorists four ranking members of Iran’s special operations Qods Force—a paramilitary unit under the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps which also is designated by the US as a terrorist organization—for their involvement in the assassination plot. Also designated was the naturalized US citizen, Manssor Arbabsiar. Arbabsiar, as well as one of the Qods leaders, were indicted. Only Arbabsiar is in custody with the others believed to be in Iran. One of these four is known to have masterminded a 2007 raid in Karbala, Iraq, responsible for killing five American soldiers, four execution style after being kidnapped.
 
While Iran denies involvement in the assassination plot, taped telephone conversations between co-conspirators—referring in code to the assassination as “buying a Chevrolet”—prove otherwise. Cooperating with investigators, Arbabsiar reported the plan called for using an explosive device outside a restaurant to kill the Saudi ambassador, with no concern for innocent bystanders.
 
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the plot “crosses a line.” Such a statement ignores other transgressions by which Iran’s terrorist activities have repeatedly crossed that line. Each time Iran has crossed it, Tehran has done so without fear of US retaliation. The 1979 seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran, the 1983 bombing of the Marine Barracks in Lebanon, the 1996 bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, support for the 9/11 terrorists, responsibility for the deaths of thousands of US troops in Iraq and Afhganistan by providing militants with IEDs, and the aforementioned 2007 Karbala raid, all involved Iran.
 
Before retiring as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen testified, “Iran is very directly supporting extremist Shiite groups which are killing our troops. There is no question they are shipping high-tech weapons in there…that are killing our people. And the forensics prove that.” Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has denounced this support by Iran, stating, “We cannot sit back and simply allow this to continue to happen. This is not something we’re going to walk away from. It’s something we’re going to take on head-on.”
 
The failure of the US to ever take action against Iran for the above acts has only emboldened Tehran to continue to cross the line. Although US Attorney General Eric Holder reported unspecified action would be taken for Iran’s involvement in the assassination plot, once again Tehran’s line crossing is not deemed serious enough to warrant retaliation. A senior defense official has indicated the plot “is not a trip wire for military action in Iran.” As to taking international action against Iran, a former US National Security staff member is skeptical, stating, “It is one thing to put together an international coalition in the aftermath of a terrorist attack; it’s quite different when the attack has been foiled, especially when, as in this case, it was a sting operation.”
 
Iran’s charter to wage war against non-believers anywhere in the world without regard for a nation’s territorial integrity has been evident ever since 1979. It is a war sanctioned at the highest levels, as evidenced by the 1994 suicide bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina. Evidence revealed involvement by Iran’s president at the time, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, leading to a warrant being issued by the Argentine government. Although, for political reasons, Interpol would not issue a warrant for Rafsanjani, it did issue warrants for his co-conspirators.
 
Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism. Its constitution mandates the exportation of the Islamic revolution beyond its borders. Therefore, it has no reservations as to how it does so, including covert assassination, as was intended in this case, or more openly, as evidenced by Iranian Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini’s 1989 assassination order for author Salman Rushdie after publishing “The Satanic Verses.”
 
If Tehran has not hesitated to undertake such aggression against the US without a nuclear weapon in its arsenal, we can only imagine what aggression is planned once it is so armed. Meanwhile, we naively ignore the threats of a nuclear holocaust upon us by a madman who denies an earlier Holocaust ever occurred.
 
Ahmadinejad’s film indicates the trio composed of him, Khamenei and Nasrallah will wage war against the enemies of Islam—i.e., the US, its Arab allies and Israel—and it will be a war the trio, not their enemies, seek out. When the nuclear chaos intended for the West occurs, will the line crossed finally be sufficient to trigger a US military response?
 
Ahmadinejad’s film is very telling. By definition, a movie “based on a true story” follows a past event in time.  However, should Iran not be stopped from acquiring nuclear weapons, it may be the first time a movie “based on a true story” precedes the event upon which it is based.
 
Iran is hellbent on releasing the Mahdi “genie” from its bottle by visiting chaos upon the US and Israel. Reality tells us the return of the Mahdi Ahmadinejad so desperately seeks to trigger will never occur. But based on Ahmadinejad’s cultist beliefs, reality should also tell us—if not stopped from arming with the capability to do so—the nuclear chaos he seeks to inflict will.
 
 
Family Security Matters Contributing Editor Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (ret) is a retired Marine infantry officer who served in the Vietnam War, the US 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" and frequently writes on foreign policy and defense issues.
 

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