Secretary of State John “I don’t think we’re stupid” Kerry should think again.
On Tuesday, a branch of al Qaeda executed atrocious twin suicide bombings against Iran’s embassy in Beirut, killing at least 23 people, with more than 140 wounded. Those of us who have urged that the United States should stay out of the Syrian civil war have contended that, deprived of our lightning rod effect, America’s mortal enemies on both sides of the conflict would turn on and thus degrade each other. That is precisely what has happened: al Qaeda, the terror network that is aligned with its fellow America-hating Sunni supremacists, the Muslim Brotherhood, in the effort to oust the Assad regime, has now effectively declared war on Assad’s main Shiite backers, Iran – the world’s chief state sponsor of terrorism – and its Lebanese jihadist militia, Hezbollah.
So what is our secretary of State’s response to this unintended foreign policy coup? (For all policy coups during the Obama administration are unintended.) Kerry actually proclaimed that the attack proves there is common ground between the United States and Iran, with whose jihadist rulers he and President Obama are desperate to make a deal, any deal – as John Bolton explains here, with our Michael Ledeen adding context here. Just like mullahs, Kerry twaddled, “the United States knows too well the cost of terrorism directed at our own diplomats around the world.”
Well, yes, we do. But that’s because, for over 30 years, Iran has aided and abetted terrorists in strikes against American diplomats and other American personnel serving overseas – in addition, perhaps, to attacks on Americans here at home.
As I’ve recounted before, the modern Iranian regime was in fact spawned by Iran’s siege against the U.S. embassy, which began on November 4, 1979. Ultimately, the new jihadist regime held 52 American hostage for well over a year – 444 days, to be exact. Eight U.S. servicemen were also killed during the Carter administration’s botched rescue attempt, undertaken after American diplomats, who sounded very much like John Kerry, were mocked by Ayatollah Ruhollah Kohmeini when they tried to flatter the Iranians and negotiate an end to the crisis.
In early 1982, Iran sponsored the creation of Hezbollah. The dividends were immediate: On April 18, 1983, Hezbollah car-bombed the U.S. embassy in Beirut, killing 63 people (17 of them Americans). Six months later, on October 23, 1983, it attacked the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon with a truck bomb, killing 241 of our military personnel (218 Marines, 20 sailors and three soldiers) – also killing 58 French soldiers in a separate attack the same day.
Less than two months later, on December 12, 1983, the U.S. embassy in Kuwait was bombed, killing six and wounding scores of others. The bombers were tied to al-Dawa, a terror organization backed by Iran that was then leading the Shiite resistance against Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime (with which Iran was at war). Incidentally, the leader of Dawa’s “jihad office” in Syria at the time was none other than Nouri al-Maliki — now the prime minister of Iraq (you know, the “democrat” who will not relinquish power, supports Iran and Hezbollah, despises Israel, and is now helping re-plunge his country into civil war). Dawa was closely aligned with Hezbollah – indeed, the Kuwait operation was led by Youssef Badreddin, the cousin and brother-in-law of the late Hezbollah chief, Imad Mugniyah.
Meanwhile, back in Lebanon on March 16, 1984, Hezbollah kidnapped the CIA’s Beirut station chief, William Francis Buckley. He was whisked to Damascus and then to Tehran, where he became one of the hostages whose detention led to the Iran/Contra affair. Under Mugniyah’s direction, Buckley was tortured for 15 months, dying of a heart attack under that duress. In the interim, on April 12, 1984, Hezbollah attacked a restaurant frequented by U.S. Air Force personnel near their base in Torrejon, Spain. Among the scores of casualties were 18 murdered U.S. servicemen. Then, on September 20, 1984, Hezbollah car-bombed a U.S. embassy annex in Beirut, killing 24 people (two were Americans).
Hezbollah hijackers seized a Kuwait Airlines plane on December 4, 1984, murdering four of the passengers (two Americans). Half a year later, on June 14, 1985, Hezbollah jihadists hijacked TWA Flight 847 following its departure from Greece. While diverting the aircraft to Lebanon, they discovered that one of their hostages was a U.S. Navy diver named Robert Stethem. The jihadists beat Stethem severely, then shot him to death before finally dumping his body onto the tarmac of the Beirut airport.
On February 17, 1988, Hezbollah kidnapped Colonel William Higgins, a U.S. Marine monitoring the terror organization in Lebanon pursuant to a United Nations-brokered truce. The jihadists murdered him.
By the late 1980s, al Qaeda had formed and begun redirecting its global jihad against the United States. One of Osama bin Laden’s stated priorities – as the Justice Department explained in a later indictment – was to put aside differences with Shiites so that they could join forces against the U.S. Consequently, as the indictment against bin Laden elaborated:
Al Qaeda also forged alliances … with the government of Iran and its associated terrorist group Hezballah [sic] for the purpose of working together against their perceived common enemies in the West, particularly the United States.
It is thus no surprise that when Ali Mohamed, a top al Qaeda leader operative, pled guilty in connection with the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, he stated:
I was aware of certain contacts between al Qaeda and [Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the terrorist organization headed by bin Laden’s then-deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri], on one side, and Iran and Hezbollah on the other side. I arranged security for a meeting in the Sudan between [Imad Mugniyah], Hezbollah’s chief, and bin Laden. Hezbollah provided explosives training for al Qaeda and al Jihad. Iran supplied Egyptian [Islamic] Jihad with weapons. Iran also used Hezbollah to supply explosives that were disguised to look like rocks.
Upon combing U.S. intelligence files, the 9/11 Commission learned of several meetings between Iranian officials and al Qaeda operatives, including bin Laden and Zawahiri, particularly in Sudan. Tom Joscelyn of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who may be our country’s most knowledgeable terrorism analyst, has observed that the testimony of Jamal al-Fadl, a former al Qaeda member who became a government cooperating witness, also stressed the close ties between al Qaeda and Hezbollah. Among the top al Qaeda leaders who received Iran-sponsored training was the late Saif al-Adel, who eventually became bin Laden’s operations chief. Adel was a driving force behind aforementioned 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Eastern Africa.
In this regard, the 9/11 Commission report states:
[S]enior al Qaeda operatives and trainers traveled to Iran to receive training in explosives. In the fall of 1993, another such delegation went to the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon for further training in explosives as well as intelligence and security.
That instruction, held at Hezbollah camps, included al Qaeda’s top military committee members and several operatives who were involved with its Kenya cells long before the 1998 embassy bombings.
On June 25, 1996, the government of Iran and its Hezbollah terror wing, almost certainly with assistance from al Qaeda, bombed the American Air Force dormitory at the Khobar Towers complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia – killing 18 U.S. airmen (nearly 400 people, including many Americans, were wounded). Based on overwhelming evidence, a federal judge later concluded that, among other aspects of Iranian orchestration, “the terrorist attack on the Khobar Towers was approved by Ayatollah Khameini, the Supreme Leader of Iran[.]”
It is furthermore worth bearing in mind that the aforementioned Iran-trained Saif al-Adel helped build al Qaeda’s cells in Saudi Arabia. He also built its cells in Yemen, where the U.S.S. Cole was bombed on October 12, 2000, killing 17 American sailors. And … Adel trained some of the 9/11 suicide-hijackers.
That may be far from the limit of Iran’s connection to the latter atrocities, in which nearly 3000 Americans were killed. As the 9/11 Commission summed up the state of play:
[T]here 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 also is circumstantial evidence that senior Hezbollah operatives were closely tracking the travel of some of these future muscle hijackers into Iran in November 2000.
Remarkably, in its never-ending quest for a grand diplomatic deal with America’s enemies in Iran, our government has never followed up with a searching public investigation into Iran’s apparent (or, at the very least, potential) complicity in 9/11 – notwithstanding that Tehran gave safe harbor to top al Qaeda operatives who fled Afghanistan following the U.S. military invasion there. With many in Congress alarmed by the Obama administration’s give-away-the-store approach to negotiations, one wonders why this stone remains unturned.
Iran, moreover, has fueled the anti-American jihadist insurgencies in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Among attacks too numerous to list here, that includes the execution style murders of five American troops in Karbala on January 20, 2007. The Karbala massacre was engineered by Ali Mussa Daqduq, a Hezbollah commander who trained a network of Iran-sponsored jihadist cells. To this day, that network continues to operate in Iraq. In late 2011, while our nation turned its holiday attention away from Washington, the Obama administration quietly transferred Daqduq to Iraqi custody, well aware that this would result in his being freed to return to Lebanon and more Hezbollah dirty work.
Secretary Kerry studiously ignored this history in making his offensive claim that the United States and Iran share a bond and common concerns when it comes to being targeted by violent jihadists, including al Qaeda. He also ignored the most recent compilation his own department has published on state sponsors of terrorism. The State Department report begins this way:
Designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1984, Iran increased its terrorist-related activity, including attacks or attempted attacks in India, Thailand, Georgia, and Kenya. Iran provided financial, material, and logistical support for terrorist and militant groups in the Middle East and Central Asia. Iran used the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and militant groups to implement foreign policy goals, provide cover for intelligence operations, and stir up instability in the Middle East. The IRGC-QF is the regime’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad.
The report goes on to implicate Iran in a plot to murder Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States; the training of Taliban elements waging a jihadist war against American troops in Afghanistan; the arming and training of Shiite terror cells in Iraq; the wholesale support (funds, weapons, training) of the Assad regime in Syria (also a state sponsor of terrorism); the ramping up of military capabilities of terrorists in Yemen; and the harboring of al Qaeda.
In late 2005, when he was among the leading Senate Democrats to join the hard Left’s campaign against the American war effort in Iraq, John Kerry slandered U.S. troops: accusing them of “terrorizing” Iraqi women and children. Now, when Kerry looks at the jihadist regime in Iran – actual terrorists who have for three decades made mass-murder their tactic of choice in both foreign and domestic policy – his reaction is empathy.
What a disgrace.