Iran: The leading state sponsor of int´l terrorism (JERUSALEM POST OP-ED) By IRWIN COTLER 03/19/12)
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There is increasing – and compelling – evidence of Iranian footprints
in a series of recent aborted terrorist attacks in India, Georgia,
Azerbaijan and Thailand.
The Indian police have just reported that the Iranian connection to
the bombing of the Israeli Embassy car has been “conclusively
established” and that the bombing was connected to a botched attack
targeting Israeli consular staff in Bangkok.
Thai officials have now detained three Iranian nationals in
connection with the plots, while a fourth has been detained in
Malaysia. Similarly, an Indian journalist with close ties to Iran’s
notorious Quds Force was also arrested last week for facilitating the
New Delhi attack. An Indian court has now issued arrest warrants for
three other Iranian nationals in connection with the bombing.
Two other Iranian nationals suspected of involvement in the Thai
attack, including the alleged mastermind who is presently in Iran,
Moreover, Thai investigators have released photos of unexploded bombs
found in the home of one of the suspects, which are strikingly
similar to those used in the Georgian and Indian attacks. And in what
is perhaps the most shocking – albeit least reported – development
yet, Azerbaijani police are reporting that they are detaining nearly
two dozen people for allegedly plotting attacks on the country’s U.S.
and Israeli Embassies and other Jewish and Western targets. According
to initial reports, a number of the operatives were trained in
Iranian military camps and armed by its intelligence agency.
Given the evolving evidence of Iranian involvement, these attacks
constitute a major Iranian escalation in its state sponsorship of
international terrorism and in the systematic targeting of diplomatic
missions in defiance of preemptory norms of international law.
Such an escalation dovetails with the converging Iranian fourfold
threat – nuclear, incitement, terrorism, massive domestic repression –
and its corresponding incendiary rhetoric which finds increasing
expression in the regime’s serial use of terrorist violence as a
central tenet of its foreign policy.
Indeed, the recent web of attacks comes in the aftermath of ominous
warnings by Gen. Masoud Jazayeri, the spokesman for Iran’s Joint
Armed Forces Staff that “the enemies of the Iranian nation,
especially the United States, Britain and the Zionist regime have to
be held responsible for their activities.” Senior Iranian officials
have also recently warned of their intention to strike Israeli and
Jewish targets worldwide.
In particular, since the fraudulent election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
in 2009, Iran’s escalating rhetoric has been accompanied by
increasingly brazen terrorist acts and attempts. In what has become
an annual tradition, Iran was once again designated by the US State
Department’s Country Report on Terrorism as “the most active state
sponsor of terrorism.”
The United States’ recent indictment of senior Iranian officials,
accused of orchestrating an elaborate plot to assassinate the Saudi
Ambassador in Washington is but the latest example.
Indeed, as part of the same plot – though this has gone largely
unremarked – the indicted Iranian officials also conspired to bomb
the Israeli Embassy in Washington and the Saudi Embassy in Argentina.
By striking at diplomatic targets – indeed, all four of the February
attacks targeted Israeli Embassy and consular officials – Iran
demonstrates not only its hatred and rejectionism of Israel but its
violent rejection of the principle of diplomatic immunity, a
foundational principle of international law.
It should be noted that the notorious Quds Force has been at the
forefront of Iranian state terror, and has been implicated in the
planning, arming or carrying out of attacks against civilians in
Iraq, Afghanistan, Europe, the United States and Asia. Indeed, the
IRGC remains the epicenter of threats to international peace and
security – to regional and Middle East stability –and is now involved
also in the brutal Syrian crackdown on its people, in the beatings,
killings and torture, constitutive of crimes against humanity.
US officials have recently acknowledged that aid from Iran to
Syria “is increasing, and is increasingly focused on lethal
assistance.” Syrian army defectors tell of Iran’s involvement in
summary executions, torture and other atrocities carried out against
civilians, including the torture of hospital residents.
WHAT IS more, the Revolutionary Guard Corps has been at the forefront
of a long-standing global campaign of terror against perceived
opponents of the regime. The Iran Human Rights Documentation Center
has linked senior regime officials to the extrajudicial murder of at
least 162 political activists in 18 countries from East Asia through
Western Europe to the United States. In a particularly brazen
incident, Iranian agents assassinated four Kurdish activists at a
Berlin restaurant in 1992.
A Berlin court concluded that “Iran’s political leadership ordered
By its ongoing and escalating statesponsored terror on foreign soil,
Iran is in standing violation of every cannon of domestic and
international law. Iran also continues to act as chief patron of
Hamas and Hezbollah. These groups are not just terrorist entities,
though this would be bad enough. But they have an objective which is
genocidal – an ideology which is anti-Jewish – not because I say so
but because their charters proclaim it – and where terrorism is an
instrument for the implementation of their objectives. The recent
attacks – all of which targeted Israeli and Jewish institutions –
also bore the hallmark of Hezbollah, and follow the January arrest of
one of the Hezbollah operatives suspected of planning the attacks in
Bangkok. Hezbollah has also been accused of acting at the behest of
Iran in the escalating terrorism in Homs, Syria.
The spate of violence is particularly worrying given the recent and
incendiary pronouncements by Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, to
the effect that Israel is a “cancerous tumor” that must be
eradicated, and will be eradicated.
Lest there be any ambiguity as to the genocidal intent of Iran’s
clerical and political leadership, the supreme leader explained in a
subsequent interview that there is a “jurisprudential justification
to kill all the Jews and annihilate Israel and that Iran must take
By training, arming, financing and instigating groups like Hezbollah,
the Iranian regime gives violent expression to the genocidal
narrative of its leadership.
Indeed, the convergence of Iranian state-sanctioned incitement to
genocide and its state-sponsored terrorism has not suddenly emerged
in the context of the current standoff with the West over the Iranian
nuclear weaponization program. Rather, since the early days of the
Islamic Revolution, Iranian terrorist threats have materialized into
attacks against civilians around the globe.
The regime’s anti-Jewish brutality was witnessed most vividly on 18
July 1994, when a bomb tore through Argentina’s Jewish Community
Center (AMIA) in Buenos Aires. The Argentinean minister of justice
advised me that “this was the worst terrorist atrocity in Argentina
since the Second World War.”
The Argentine Judiciary concluded that the attack, which killed 85
people and wounded 300 others, was planned, orchestrated and
implemented at the highest echelons of the Iranian leadership,
including both the office of the president and the Iranian Embassy in
Argentina – yet no Iranian official has been brought to justice for
On the contrary – and reflective of the culture of impunity that
reigns in Iran – Ahmed Vahidi, wanted by Interpol for his role as an
organizer of the Argentinean bombing, currently serves as Iran’s
Defense Minister, and was appointed in 2009 – Ahmadinejad’s defiant
response to Obama’s “outstretched hand” during his year of engagement
In a particularly chilling reminder of Iran’s no-holds-barred
capacity to engage in state-sponsored terrorism in association with
the most deadly of terrorist groups, a New York Federal District
Court ruled in December that Tehran materially and directly supported
al-Qaida’s devastating September 11 attacks on the United States.
The court’s findings included:
• Proof that a Revolutionary Guard contingency plan for
unconventional warfare against the US included a plan to crash
hijacked airlines into the World Trade Centres and the Pentagon.
• Proof of coded messages from an Iranian government official during
the weeks before 9/11 to the effect that the aforementioned plan had
• Evidence that Iran facilitated the escape of al-Qaida leadership
from Afghanistan during the US invasion.
• Evidence that Ali Khamenei was aware of the 9/11 attacks as early
as May 2001.
• Evidence that senior Hezbollah operatives met with the 9/11
hijackers in the months leading up to the attacks.
Given the evidence of the escalating Iranian state sponsorship of
international terrorism – and the increasing targeting of diplomats –
all states have the responsibility to invoke the legal, diplomatic,
economic and political instruments at their disposal to confront
Iranian terrorist aggression. These instruments include, but are
certainly not limited to: increasing bilateral and multilateral
diplomatic and economic sanctions; the mobilization of political
pressure to isolate the Iranian regime as a pariah among nations; and
invoking legal remedies against the Iranian regime and its terrorist
Specifically, State Parties to the Genocide Convention should
initiate interstate complaints before the International Court of
Justice (ICJ) against Iran – also a state party to the Genocide
Convention – for its incitement to genocide, a violation of the
Similarly, states may bring Iran before the ICJ for its attacks
against diplomats, pursuant to the Islamic Republic’s obligations
under Article 13 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment
of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including
Diplomatic Agents, which it ratified in 1978.
States should also list the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, an
organization that has been at the vanguard of the Islamic Republic’s
campaign of state terrorism, as a terrorist entity. The Argentinean
Judiciary’s decision – and resulting Interpol arrest warrants –
should be enforced. Civil suits should be instituted where
appropriate against Iran and its terrorist agents for its
perpetration of acts of terror; and the principle of universal
jurisdiction should be invoked to hold Iran’s leaders – under
indictment for war crimes and crimes against humanity – accountable.
Ahmed Vahidi, such an indicted criminal, should not be able to travel
freely with impunity.
Simply put, the recent wave of terrorist attacks must serve as a wake-
up call for the necessary action to be taken by the international
community to combat this culture of incitement, terror and impunity.
Indeed, history teaches us that a sustained and coordinated
international response is required in combat such grave threats to
peace and security. We must act now to hold Iran’s state-sanctioned
terror to account, lest more lives be lost. Such Iranian
statesanctioned terror is a chilling warning of what dangers await
the international community should Iran become a nuclear power.
Irwin Cotler is a member of the Canadian Parliament, emeritus
professor of law at McGill University and a former minister of
justice and attorney-general of Canada. He is the Canadian
representative on the International Parliamentary Coalition Against
Terrorism and has initiated a series of civil and criminal remedies
to combat terror. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 03/19/12)
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