It has been a busy month for Iran in its ongoing conflict with the United States. First, the Iranian government displayed what it said is a crashed U.S. drone discovered in Iran. Then, the nation’s deputy oil minister admitted that U.S. sanctions against Iran are inflicting damage on its economy.
As a result, the rogue state announced that it will hold war games along key shipping lanes and that any further U.S. sanctions would result in the closing of the most important of those lanes, the Strait of Hormuz—the pathway for more than 20% of the world’s oil supply. Next, the trial of American-born Iranian Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, whom the Iranians claim is a U.S. spy, began this week.
Finally, in a federal district court in Manhattan, Judge George B. Daniels ruled just days ago that the Iranian government, along with the terrorist group Hezbollah (the self-proclaimed “party of god”), provided material and direct support to al Qaeda in its attacks of September 11, 2001. The suit had been brought before the court in Havlish, et al. v. Usama bin Laden, et al., on behalf of the families of some of the victims of 9/11, and lends convincing proof that Iranian hostility towards the U.S., which reached an apex during the 1979 revolution, has by no means ebbed.
In a press release, attorneys representing the plaintiffs “emphasized that Iran, Hezbollah, and al Qaeda formed a terror alliance in the early 1990s.” The argument was rooted in findings put forth by the 9/11 Commission, which stated in its final report that, “In sum, there is strong evidence that Iran facilitated the transit of al Qaeda members into and out of Afghanistan before 9/11, and that some of these were future 9/11 hijackers. There is also circumstantial evidence that senior Hezbollah operatives were closely tracking the travel of some of the future “muscle” hijackers into Iran in November 2000.” Though the Commission was careful to say that this could be merely a coincidence, it concludes its short exploration of the Iran-Hezbollah-al Qaeda alliance with the words, “We believe this topic requires further investigation by the U.S. Government.”
The plaintiffs’ attorneys took up this investigation and made a compelling case, including the presentation of testimony and affidavits from intelligence and national security experts as well as key staffers from the 9/11 Commission itself. Perhaps most importantly, the plaintiffs were able to secure the testimony of Abolghasem Mesbahi, a former Iranian spy, who provided information that was cited by Judge Daniels in his findings. Incredibly, Mesbahi testified he was part of a task force made up of members of Iranian Intelligence and the Revolutionary Guard which drafted plans for strikes against the U.S., code-named “Shaitan dar Atash” (“Satan in Flames”). These plans included crashing hijacked passenger aircraft into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the White House.
Judge Daniels also found that Iran assisted with the escape of key al Qaeda figures from Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks; provided safe-haven for some of them; used front companies to obtain Boeing flight simulators (which are banned in Iran); and allowed the entry into Iran of Ramzi Binalshihb, a “coordinator” of the 9/11 attacks. Further, the judge found that Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, was aware of the impending attacks.
If this information was known to Americans on September 12, 2001, a great hue and cry would have arisen calling for strikes against Iran, and it’s not a stretch to believe that the Bush Administration would have taken such a course. Instead, President Bush’s declaration of an Axis of Evil (which rightly included Iran) was typically scoffed at by the left. We now see just how right he was. What is hard to imagine is what the state of the nation and, indeed, the world would be today had we known then all of what we see now.
Remarkably, neither the evidence presented in this case nor the judge’s ruling has elicited substantial coverage in the media. Considering the recent controversy regarding revelations about the progress of Iran’s nuclear program, one would think that this would be front page news, but it is not. It’s as if the media has lost its taste for fighting terrorism and threats from afar. Perhaps the on-going economic woes are to blame, but it’s a worrisome trend.
The lack of attention to the court’s finding is unfortunate, because what the facts of this case do tell us is that the theocratic Islamic Republic of Iran is actively and aggressively seeking to do harm to the United States, and this, coupled with President Obama’s ill-timed withdrawal from Iraq, could mean an even darker road ahead than most realize for American-Iranian relations. One can only hope that President Obama will finally admit the folly of his naive 2008 campaign stance that he need only sit down and talk with Iran to stabilize the situation. How many gauntlets will he watch being thrown down?