Chesler Chronicles

Three Americans Held Captive in Iran: One Year and Counting


Rallies for the release of the American hikers were held all over America yesterday. Today, according to an article in Ha’aretz, it seems that these three American hikers, (“they are like three Rachel Corries” and would have sailed on the Turkish Flotilla had they not been in jail), have long held anti-Israel, pro-PLO, and anti-American politics. Their friend and spokesman, Shon Meckfessel, therefore finds it ironic that they have been held by the Iranians with whom they agree on many things. In fact, Meckfessel is blaming their non-release on a Zionist controlled American media and leadership.

“Meckfessel, who was traveling with them when they were taken captive, is frustrated that so little is being done to get them released. ‘It just does not feel like a priority for the U.S. administration,’ he complains. Is it because they are Americans who were critical of U.S. and Israeli actions? ‘I definitely wonder about that,’ he says.”

I am still saddened by their capture and prolonged detention. But now I really wonder what, if anything, they, their families, and their supporters will choose to learn from it. If they do not “get it” afterwards, it is clear that reality has absolutely no power over left political programming.


One year ago, Shane Michael Bauer/Bower, Joshua Fattal (whose father is of Iraqi descent), and Sarah Emily Shourd, three young American hikers, were arrested by Iranian forces for having wandered too close to the Iranian border. Charged with “espionage,” they remain in the dreadful Evin Prison. Today, Amnesty International has finally demanded their release. Malcolm Smart, Amnesty’s International Middle East and North Africa Program director says:

“It appears clear that the Iranian authorities do not have substantial grounds to prosecute these three individuals, and we fear that they may be held on account of their nationality.”

Has Mr. Smart–have people–forgotten that in 1979, Khomeini’s young Iranian thugs (Ahmadinejad was probably among them) arrested and detained 52 American diplomats and Embassy personnel and held them hostage for 444 days? And that President Carter did not rescue them nor did he seem to understand that this was the outbreak of the Third Wave of Islamic Jihad against the West?

I am haunted by the fate of these three Americans. I have been told that the woman is being kept in solitary while the two men, one her fiancee, share a cell. But what am I saying? All three are in the notorious Evin Prison, (where so many brave Iranian dissidents are being tortured and murdered). a facility which is apparently as hard to penetrate as Iran’s nuclear facilities.

But, I am also haunted by the fates of journalist Daniel Pearl and business entrepreneur Nicholas Berg who were both beheaded for daring to penetrate Islamist space. And neither Pearl nor Berg were “politicals”; they viewed themselves as world citizens who believed that they’d be safe in enemy territory and in war zones.

The Americans being held captive range in age from 27 to 36; they are all graduates of the University of California at Berkeley. They apparently flew to Turkey, entered Iraq, traveled to Sulaymaniyah, a Kurdish capital and, after two nights in a hotel, traveled on to Ahmed Awa, in the mountains, where caves, waterfalls, an unmarked border—and the Iranian police awaited them.

University of California of Berkeley graduates? Oh, let me think a moment…these poor young idealists probably had No Idea that Iraq, Kurdistan, or nearby Iran were potentially dangerous. Their politics were probably liberal, left, and postcolonial; perhaps they viewed American Empire as The Bad Guy and the simple, God-fearing (or sophisticated and warm) peoples of Turkey, Iraq, Kurdistan and Iran as oppressed freedom fighters in a war launched by the Americans, etc.

Make no mistake: Although I may be second-guessing, even misstating their politics, I in no way think they deserve captivity. Whether the captives like it or not, and whatever their politics may be, Iranian leaders probably view all Americans as infidel enemies, spies, perhaps even as “Zionists.”

Where is President Obama on this? Or Secretary of State Clinton? Yes, I know: America has no diplomatic relations with Iran (see above), but the Swiss represent us in Iran.

Gilad Shalit

And, by the way: Why is Amnesty not demanding the release of Gilad Shalit, who has been held in captivity and allowed no Red Cross visits for 1, 496 days—or for more than four years? Where are all the humanitarian flotillas on Shalit’s behalf, bearing food, clothing, letters, medical supplies, newspapers from home, human contact?

Is the world really interested?

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