You are sending a link to...
Islamic Terrorism In Kabul and the Negotiations In Vienna
by Hugh Fitzgerald
Ben Cohen reports on the Kabul airport attack and recent high-ranking appointments in Iran of criminals wanted by Interpol here: “Islamism’s brutal face is back on display,” by Ben Cohen, Israel Hayom, August 29, 2021:
Any notion that the worst days of Islamist terrorism are long behind us was brutally shattered at Kabul Airport on Thursday, as twin bombs ripped indiscriminately through Afghan civilians and US and other foreign servicemen trying to complete the desperate evacuation of thousands of people for whom Taliban rule represents the most terrible fate.
Gen. H.R. McMaster, a former US national security advisor who served as deputy commander of the international force in Afghanistan, put it succinctly in the hours that followed the bloodshed in Kabul. “Maybe this moment is the time that we can stop our self-delusion that these groups are separate from one another and recognize that they are utterly intertwined and interconnected, and what we are seeing is the establishment of a terrorist, jihadist state in Afghanistan,” McMaster, a visceral critic of the US withdrawal strategy pursued by both the Trump and Biden administrations, observed in a BBC interview. “And all of us will be at much greater risk as a result.”
His underlying argument is that talking up divisions between the Taliban and fellow Islamist fanatics – such as ISIS-K, the Afghan branch of the Da’esh terrorist organization in Iraq and Syria that carried out the Kabul Airport bombing – elides the point that these groups are united in their fundamental worldview. On the ideological front, the late Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden’s promise of a war against “crusaders and Jews” still holds firm, which means terrorism against Western interests and Western targets, most of whom will be defenseless civilians. It also means, for those unfortunate enough to live under the direct rule of the Islamists, that ordinary Muslims will continue to be their principal and most numerous victims.
Islamic terrorist groups — Hezbollah, Hamas, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, ISIS and its just-identified offshoot ISIS-K — may disagree on tactics, timing, and the prioritization of targets, but they agree on the essential: the need to make war on Infidels until the whole world submits to Islam. General McMaster, who has many faults but is correct in this, describes these groups as “interconnected and intertwined.” The best example of this is the aid given by the terror state of Shi’a Iran to the Sunnis of Hamas, while long before that, Shi’a Iran provided refuge to Sunni terrorists of Al-Qaeda – a discovery that at first puzzled the Americans, who had assumed that Shi’a Iran would never help the arch-Sunnis of Al-Qaeda. Not only has Iran given shelter to Al-Qaeda members, but Iran helped the terror group to reconstitute itself from 2010 to 2017. Osama bin Laden’s son was even married in Iran. In OBL’s lair in Abbottabad, the Americans found, among other documents, a 19-page agreement between Iran and Al-Qaeda. It is worth noting that Abu Muhammad Al-Masri, Al Qaeda’s No. 2, was gunned down in the streets of Teheran in November 2020; he had been living safely for years in Iran.
The “intertwined” connections described by McMaster inside Afghanistan can be seen in the region more broadly. At the same time as the Taliban have finished conquering Afghanistan, reimposing their Islam-prompted terror regime, Iran has appointed a new cabinet composed of men with a direct, personal role in terrorism, torture, and other systemic violations of human rights, and who have extensive connections with Iran’s regional proxies, including the Houthis in Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
In the past, many analysts have scorned the contention that there could be a strategic connection between the austere Sunni Islam adhered to by the Taliban and the Shiite millenarian Islam that defines the Tehran regime. It is also true that the Taliban and the Iranians have come to blows in the distant past, as evidenced in the Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif in 1998 following the kidnapping of a group of Iranian diplomats by Taliban fighters.
Even so, what unites them is, in the last analysis, more important than what divides them. Taliban delegations have visited Iran on at least two occasions this year, in January and in July, with the outgoing foreign minister Javad Zarif recently praising their “noble … jihad against the foreign occupiers.” In part, the Iranians are simply betting on the right horse, correctly deducing that further conflict with the Taliban is unnecessary given that the Taliban are once more the masters of Afghanistan. But more significantly, they share the common goal of banishing the United States and its allies from the region, including the State of Israel and, one assumes, those conservative Gulf Arab states [the U.A.E., Bahrain, and less openly, Saudi Arabia] that have made their peace with the Jewish state.
The Iranian regime welcomed the victory of the Sunni Taliban as one more step in pushing the Americans out of Muslim lands and, especially, out of their very neighborhood, where an American military presence in Afghanistan constituted for twenty years a constant worry for Tehran.
This brings me back to Iran’s new cabinet. It is not surprising that the Islamic Republic’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi – a sadist who, as a regime prosecutor in the 1980s, supervised beatings, rapes and mass executions of prisoners – would appoint a bunch of thugs to his cabinet. But what is alarming is the silence of Western states on the unmistakable message that this cabinet sends. For this is not an occasion to defer to the principle of not commenting on political appointments in other countries.
Iran’s new defense minister is Ahmad Vahidi, who is returning to the post for the second time in his career, having previously occupied it during the term of the Holocaust-denying former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The vice president for economic development is Mohsen Rezaei, a fierce devotee of the Islamic Republic’s founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, and the commander for 17 years of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Both Vahidi and Rezaei are fugitives from justice – specifically, for their roles in the July 1994 Iranian-sponsored bombing of the AMIA Jewish Center in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires, the bloodiest act of anti-Semitic terrorism in more than half a century, in which 85 people lost their lives and more than 300 were wounded.
Both of them were among the subjects of six “red notices” that were issued in connection with the AMIA atrocity by Interpol, the international law-enforcement agency, in 2007. More than a quarter of a century after the AMIA bombing, Vahidi and Rezaei sit in Tehran, secure and stony-faced, serving a daily reminder that justice has never been delivered to those who died or lost their loved ones on that terrible morning in Buenos Aires….
President Raisi is himself known as the “Butcher of Tehran” for his role in condemning more than 5,000 political prisoners to death in 1988. He has expressed no remorse, but only pride in his work of, as he put it, “defending” Iran from its enemies.
The appointment of Vahidi and Rezaei to high-ranking positions shows yet again the Iranian regime’s defiance of the international order. Both men are on Interpol’s list of most wanted terrorists – they have been the subject of six “red notices” for their roles in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in which 85 people were killed and 300 wounded. It is not surprising that Ebrahim Raisi would as president appoint mass-murderers just like himself– Vahidi and Rezaei – to the cabinet, Vahidi as Minister of Defense and Rezaei as vice president for economic development. They proved, in their terrorist mass-murdering past, to be men after Raisi’s own stone-cold heart.
What is alarming is that no Western states have bothered to condemn these two appointments by Raisi; it’s not every day that a government appoints to high office men wanted by Interpol for taking part in an act of mass terrorism. Why the silence? Could it reflect an indifference because the victims of their terrorism were only Jews? Or might the West’s silence reflect a desire not to anger Iran while there is still hope that the negotiations in Vienna about a return to the J.C.P.O.A. may lead to an agreement?
Ten years ago, there were 125,000 American troops in Iraq; now there are only 2,500. In Afghanistan there were 100,000 troops ten years ago; now, after Aug. 31, there will be none. The American military presence has virtually disappeared. The debacle in Afghanistan, where the Americans, in the chaos and confusion of their ill-planned departure, are leaving behind thousands of Afghans who had helped them, has dealt a tremendous blow to faith in the American ally. The Taliban has given the Americans assurances that it has changed from the way it was 20 years ago, and that there will be no retribution against those who had helped the Americans; nor will women again be treated as they were in the previous Taliban regime. But already we have heard the reports of Afghan interpreters and other helpers being executed, as well as the lashing, and sometimes murder, of Afghan women who were deemed Islamically incorrect in their dress.
The Americans have proven as gullible with the Taliban as they have with been with Iran. Let’s remember that when the J.C.P.O.A. deal was in place, and ever since, Iran has been deceiving IAEA inspectors, and racing to build a nuclear bomb which by now it would have had not Mossad repeatedly set back the nuclear project. Yet the Americans in Vienna, led by Robert Malley with his long pro-Iranian record, have been making concession after concession to Iran, that pockets those concessions but offers nothing in return. The Iranians insist they will only return to the 2015 nuclear deal, exactly as written, without meeting the American demand to “lengthen and strengthen” the agreement by having it revisit that “sunset” provision that would allow Iran to build a nuclear weapon in 2030, as well as addressing Iran’s ballistic missile program and its regional aggressions in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza.
The Biden Administration should now declare the talks in Vienna over, since the Iranians refuse to seriously negotiate and, in fact, have not returned to the negotiating table they left in late June. They have insisted uncompromisingly that they will return to the 2015 deal without the slightest change, and no doubt will continue to violate that agreement as they have been doing ever since its inception, at nuclear sites they had kept hidden from the IAEA inspectors and that were only revealed when Israel in 2018 seized the contents of Iran’s entire nuclear archive.
Instead of waiting for the Iranians to return to the atrocious 2015 nuclear deal, the Americans should put more sanctions on Iran until it agrees to modifications in that agreement, especially in eliminating that “sunset clause” that at present allows Iran to acquire nuclear weapons in 2030. America should also insist, as Biden and Blinken once promised they would (and then appeared to forget that promise), that Iran agree to limits on its ballistic missile program, and commit to changing its behavior, through its support of such proxies and allies as the Houthis in Yemen, Kataib Hezbollah in Iraq, and Hezbollah in Lebanon, that has unsettled so much of the Middle East.
Is there a chance of the Bidenites agreeing to follow through on any of this? Don’t be silly.
First published in Jihad Watch.