The Islamic Republic of Iran, a designated State Sponsor of Terrorism since 1984, remains the world’s “most active state sponsor of terrorism” according to the U.S. Department of State’s most recent Country Reports on Terrorism. Yet the world continues to turn a blind eye to Iran’s sponsorship of terror, ignoring the suffering of terror victims and the instability sown by terrorist groups acting at the behest of the Islamic Republic of Iran and continuing both threats and attacks throughout the world .
While the United States, Europe and the United Nations have imposed sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran, the world has not stopped Iran’s continued development of its nuclear enrichment program. Sanctions, strong and clear, approved by the United States Congress and the White House, have not done the job. During his tenure as Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flaunted the international community’s repeated deadlines and there is no indication that Iran’s new President or its Ayatollah leadership will stop their drive to achieve nuclear capability. How can the world accept the prospect of a nuclear Iran, with its inherent real-time dangers, including its threats against Israel and the United States, particularly when viewed through the lens of Iran’s continued sponsorship of terrorist attacks? Indeed, separate from and in addition to the justified and crucially important ongoing focus on Iran’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) threat, the time is ripe for the US and the world to take concerted steps to stop Iranian-sponsored terrorism.
Iran’s historical support of terrorist groups is incontrovertible; according to the US State Department, Iran provides money, weapons, training, and other material support to numerous foreign terrorist groups including Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, Arab Palestinian rejectionist groups, and Ansar al-Islam. Malta and Israel a few years ago stopped Iranian ships laden with weapons believed to have been bound for Syria. Iran has moved Revolutionary Guards, munitions, missiles and assistance into Syria and across Syria into the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon. Nothing has deterred this activity. The threat is real as the Islamic Republic of Iran is truly a continuing and dangerous rogue state, providing hundreds of millions of dollars per year to Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and HAMAS, all of which directly threaten Israel on her northern and southern borders and inside Israel itself. Khaled Mashal, HAMAS’ political leader, publicly confirmed Iran has financially supported HAMAS since it won elections in 2006. Moreover, Iran continues to provide safe haven to terrorists wanted by the United States for murdering US citizens. The Iranian Congress’ previously ratified a wanted-terrorist, Ahmad Vahidi, accused by Argentina of direct involvement in the horrific AMIA Jewish center bombing in 1994, as Iranian Defense Minister, and continues to name terrorists to key positions in the Iranian government, further illustrating a regime hell-bent on defying, threatening and harming the free world.
In addition to these despicable acts, Iran has in the past few years test-fired a long-range ballistic Sejjil-2 missile capable of hitting Israel and US bases in the region. These actions further endanger an already unstable region. Mike Hammer, who served as a US National Security Council spokesman, noted at the time in response to the test-firing that “at a time when the international community has offered Iran opportunities to begin to build trust and confidence, Iran’s missile tests only undermine Iran’s claims of peaceful intentions. Such actions will increase the seriousness and resolve of the international community to hold Iran accountable for its continued defiance of its international obligations on its nuclear program.” Iran’s provocative actions are evidence of their continued intent to develop nuclear capability and delivery systems that threaten Israel and others in the region. These threats cannot be countenanced.
Iran’s outrageous deeds are accompanied by its outrageous rantings. While Tehran supports those who threaten the very basis of an open and dynamic civil society, during Ahmadinejad’s term as President of Iran he declared the Holocaust a mere myth and continuously called for Israel to be wiped off of the map. The recent change of Iranian leadership with the election of Rouhani has shown no indication that the Iranian leadership and its regime intend to stand down either on their words or threats of devastating deeds. In fact, they must be taken at their word and held accountable for their hate mongering and for their sponsorship of terror.
As Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu strongly asked before the United Nations: “Will the international community thwart the world’s most pernicious sponsors and practitioners of terrorism?” The answer is clear: Indeed, the world must confront and stop not only Iran’s drive toward nuclear armament, but also Iran’s relentless, murderous support and funding of terrorism.
Evidence submitted to US Federal Courts in numerous cases have resulted in Federal Judges holding Iran liable for varied and repeated terrorist acts, ranging from the bombing of the US Marine Barracks in Beirut in 1983, to various attacks in Israel during the Palestinian Intifada, killing and maiming innocent civilians, to responsibility for their involvement in the 9/11 attack upon the United States in 2001. Iran’s repeated use of proxies in the form of Foreign Terrorist Organizations such as Hezbollah to murder and attack must be stopped.
Today, it is most critical that world leaders not only speak up and make their voices heard; they must take strong action against Iran designed to hold Iran fully accountable for its terrorist conduct. Iran, a state which takes a callous view of human life should not and cannot threaten our global community or the very foundations upon which our free, open and dynamic society is based. The international community must deal with Iran now, before the recalcitrant state gets any closer to crossing the clear red line which Prime Minister Netanyahu drew at the United Nations. Iran cannot be permitted to further develop its capability to have nuclear weapons as it already has no incentive to stop sponsoring terror or threatening the free world.
*Editorial original published in The Louis D. Brandeis Center • August 20, 2013
Copyright © 2013 · Richard D. Heideman. All Rights Reserved.