As to Ahmadinejad's Intentions, It's "Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign"

by LT. COLONEL JAMES G. ZUMWALT, USMC (RET) February 15, 2011
 
According to the findings of a recently released US Senate report investigating the November 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage that claimed 13 lives, accused murderer Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan’s words and actions prior to the attack created warning signs that went unheeded. Concerning the acts and deeds of Iranian president Mohmoud Ahmadinejad, we should ask whether those same signs have gone unheeded—with much greater consequences in store for us if we continue not to take them seriously.  
 
The report made clear the FBI and the Army failed to recognize warning signs the Army psychiatrist had transitioned into an Islamist extremist who was a “ticking time bomb.” Released by the Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Independent Senator Joe I. Lieberman, and Republican Senator Susan Collins, the report determined both the Department of Defense and FBI failed to act on sufficient information that Hasan had been so radicalized.
 
Just like the chorus line from the 1971 hit song “Signs,” there was a “Sign, sign, everywhere a sign” that Hasan was going jihadi on us. His radicalization was on “full display” for all to see. Despite concerns expressed by several co-workers comparing him to a “ticking time bomb,” no action was taken. Such references, along with poor performance evaluations, were sanitized. Overlooked too was the significance of Hasan’s communications with known terrorists, such as US-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. But, not only were all these signs ignored, the man went on to be promoted by the Army.  Political correctness trumped all telltale signs an Hasan train wreck was in the making.
 
The report concluded the Fort Hood massacre should have been prevented—but for a tragedy of errors. As Collins pointed out, “This is not a case where a lone wolf was unknown to the FBI, unknown to the military officials, until he struck.” The report determined DOD personnel were uninformed and trained on how to recognize Islamic extremists as opposed to those engaged in the peaceful practice of Islam. Islamic extremists were the enemy and must be specifically identified as such.
 
In 2004, as newsman Tom Brokaw was retiring, he was asked if he had any regrets about stories he had failed to report. He responded his biggest regret was in failing to do a story “connect(ing) the dots on terrorism” prior to 9/11. Because no one else made the connection either, a 1998 declaration of war against the US by a little known terrorist named Osama bin Laden received no attention. Only after 9/11 were all the dots connected.
 
With the history of 9/11 and the Fort Hood massacre now behind us, we should be paying much closer attention to connecting the dots of terrorism to predict future actions. But after more than three decades of acts and declarations of war against the US by Iran, we still seem unable, or unwilling, to connect these dots. As a result, that country’s current president is undeterred in his jihad to do us harm by means of a cataclysmic event he envisions visiting upon us in the near future. He is encouraged to this end by recent events in Egypt which he believes brings him closer to fulfilling his religious destiny and bringing on America’s apocalypse.
 
Iran is a country that has been at war with the US ever since religious extremists hijacked a democratic revolution there in 1979 and converted it into an Islamic one. What followed were acts tantamount to declarations of war, including the seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran, the 1983 bombing of the US Embassy and Marine barracks in Lebanon, the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia, Iranian special force operations into Iraq that have killed US soldiers, Tehran’s provisioning of explosive devices to militants in both Iraq and Afghanistan that have claimed more American lives than have engagements with the enemy, etc. While America has slept, Iran has been inflicting an ancient Chinese torture on us of “death by a thousand cuts.”
  
But the torture of the past 32 years is nothing compared to what Iran’s current president envisions for our future. And he worries little about the warning signs he leaves everywhere upon which “the Great Satan”—as the US has been tagged by Islamic extremists—can reflect. To understand the signs he leaves, one must first understand his mindset.
 
 
Ahmadinejad is a man on a religious mission to see the entire globe subjected to Islamic domination. As such, it matters not who falls victim during this journey to fulfill his destiny. Whether it is a fellow Persian, a fellow Muslim, a woman, a child or, his priority target, Westerners, is not important—for, in his mind, his actions are all justified by extremists’ interpretation of the Koran. He knows too the US will not submit to Islam, so it has to be intimidated into doing so. His life has been a game plan executed to effect the ultimate US intimidation.
 
When the Islamic Revolution infected Iran, Ahmadinejad, then 23, became a member of an ultra-conservative faction of the Office for Strengthening Unity (OSU) Between Universities and Theological Seminaries, established by a minion of Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini to organize Islamist students against a rapidly growing opposition group.  OSU was the group that formulated the idea of seizing the US Embassy in Tehran.  Interestingly, when the seizure was proposed, Ahmadinejad suggested the Soviet Embassy be seized as well—an idea rejected by others fearing a more forceful response from the Soviets than from the Americans.  Nonetheless, the suggestion provides an early insight into Ahmadinejad’s thought process in taking aggressive action against enemies, either without rational reflection on the consequences of those actions or with a total lack of concern for same. 
  
In 1980, Iraq started what would be an eight year war with Iran. Ahmadinejad, then unknown to the outside world, was a member of the Qods Force—a special forces arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC). It was in this capacity a window into Ahmadinejad’s soul was opened, providing a most telling insight nothing is there.
 
During the Iran/Iraq war, Iraqi military positions on the battlefield were defended by mine fields the Iranians were unable to penetrate absent sacrificing the lives of experienced soldiers. Khomeini decided the Koran justified sacrificing Iran’s youth instead. He encouraged children to volunteer for duty on the front, where they formed an unarmed human wave moving through minefields to clear a path for Iranian soldiers to follow. The policy was fully implemented, without hesitation, by Ahmadinejad. If such a leader lacks compassion for the innocent lives of his nation’s own children, it should be taken as a very ominous sign to his enemies as to the fate that awaits them at his hands.
 
Later, as a senior commander of Qods (a group now conducting operations in Iraq against US forces), Ahmadinejad directed assassinations of Iranian dissidents in the Middle East and Europe.  He went on to serve as governor of cities in northwestern Azarbaijan province. He eventually returned to university life as a teacher, before being appointed mayor of Tehran in April 2003—in which position he reversed many progressive changes made by his predecessors. 
 
Ahmadinejad is an ardent believer in the “Hidden” 12th Imam—a five year old child who disappeared in the ninth century, hidden by God and only “awaiting the time that God has decreed for his return” to Earth. He believes the Hidden Imam’s return will mark Islam’s ascendency to greatness and world domination.
  
Ahmadinejad’s belief in the Hidden Imam’s return was evidenced by his actions as Tehran’s mayor. He ordered the city’s streets be widened to enable the returning Imam to "tread spacious avenues."  It has also been evident in his discussions with world leaders such as India's foreign minister, to whom he predicted the Imam’s imminent return.
 
There is a trigger for the Hidden Imam’s return to which Ahmadinejad adheres as well—it will only occur in the aftermath of world chaos.  While most adherents believe such chaos must evolve naturally, Ahmadinejad is part of a minority cult that believes man can be THE catalyst in creating it.  Driven by this belief, it should come as no surprise why Ahmadinejad, as president, has sought now to arm himself with the tools—nuclear weapons—to enable him to create that chaos.
 
When Ahmadinejad became president in 2005, he was the first non-cleric in 24 years to occupy the office as Supreme Leader Ali Khameini decided he no longer wanted to share leadership with a spiritual competitor. The perception of Ahmadinejad by Iranian voters was a populist who promised to improve the economy and care for the poor; the reality—he has neglected both, committing resources to pushing forward with Tehran's nuclear weapons program to the detriment of the nation's economy. The people’s treasury has further been plundered by his funding of numerous anti-Western terrorist groups.
 
 
Uranium enrichment facilities near Qom.
 
Prior to speaking to the UN in September 2005, Ahmadinejad was overheard praying to the Hidden Imam for his return. Later, back in Iran, he represented to clerics he found himself, while speaking in front of the world organization, engulfed in an “aura”—one that made it impossible for listeners to even blink as they were mesmerized by his words. Such a “vision” has led Ahmadinejad to believe that, when the Hidden Imam returns, Ahmadinejad will become heir to the Prophet Muhammad.
 
In 2006, Ahmadinejad sent two somewhat rambling letters to President Bush and the American people, the purposes of which, to Western readers, were unclear.  However, a close reading by those familiar with Islamic tradition suggest a sinister motive—i.e., offering an enemy, before effecting his destruction, the opportunity to embrace Islam which, if refused, then justifies such destruction—again suggesting Ahmadinejad envisions nuclear war as triggering the Hidden Imam’s return. 
 
As president, Ahmadinejad has made numerous statements that war with Israel and the West is not far off. He has urged Iranians to prepare for this “great war,” claiming “Israel should be wiped off the map.”   Signs that he is gearing up for such a conflict are evident by his actions in purchasing 18 BM-25 long range, land-mobile missiles from North Korea—missiles only capable of accommodating nuclear warheads; by his actions in positioning Iranian proxy forces (Hezbollah) in Venezuela where they are linking up with Mexican drug gangs to access US borders; and by a recent agreement between Tehran and Caracas to locate Iranian missiles at Venezuelan military bases under Hezbollah control. He even views the recent uprising in Egypt as evidence of influence by the Hidden Imam paving the way for what is soon to come.    All of this—the pre-positioning by Ahmadinejad of Iranian assets, the unrest in the region, etc.—is part of a grand scheme that will leave a madman’s hand on the trigger of a nuclear holocaust aimed to intimidate US submission to Islam.
 
The message is clearly visible: “Sign, sign, everywhere a sign:” Ahmadinejad has his sights set on nuclear war with the US. Just as the signs were there for the Fort Hood shooter, they are there for Ahmadinejad. Just as Hasan made known his intentions, so too has Ahmadinejad. There should be no confusion here, as there was with Major Nasan, that, in Ahmadinejad, we are dealing with a serious radical extremist threat. The dots can all be connected to show, like Hasan was then, Ahmadinejad now is a “ticking time bomb” waiting to go off. But this time, unless action is taken to cut the fuse beforehand, the big difference will be when the time bomb goes off, it will be of nuclear proportion. 
 
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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