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SHOWDOWN WITH NUCLEAR IRANRADICAL ISLAM'S MESSIANIC MISSION TO DESTROY ISRAEL AND CRIPPLE THE UNITED STATES
By MICHAEL D. EVANS JEROME R. CORSI
NELSON CURRENTCopyright © 2007 MICHAEL D. EVANS with JEROME R. CORSI PH.D.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTHE REVOLUTION BEGINS
"Islam makes it incumbent on all adult males, provided they are not disabled and incapacitated, to prepare themselves for the conquest of other countries so that the writ of Islam is obeyed in every country of the world." - Ayatollah Khomeini, 1948
"Iran has joined the club of nuclear nations...." - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, April 2006
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You have just read a fictionalized account of events that could happen around the globe in the very near future. Much of what I've presented in the preceding prologue is based on facts gathered from decades of work as a confidant to Israeli leaders and as a journalist working in the Middle East. With Iran's long history of contempt for the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the timetable for an apocalyptic event could accelerate at any moment.
The modern-day Islamic revolution was born on April Fool's Day in 1980 as Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini proclaimed it the "first day of the government of God" in Iran. That same year I wrote Israel: America's Key to Survival. The premise was that terrorism was spreading like a plague and that America would soon be in the hot zone.
I interviewed many of America's top generals. One of the most memorable interviews took place just outside of Washington DC, at the home of Air Force General Robert Huyser, who was deputy chief of staff for Plans and Operations. Huyser was sent to Iran on a fool's errand for President Jimmy Carter, a scheme to destabilize the Shah's government.
Huyser was a man of principle and moral clarity and believed that his mission was to support Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar and Iran's generals. Carter promised that the US would protect and provide all assets needed to shore up the government, which was increasingly endangered by violent protests against the regime of the Shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. Despite America's history of support going back to World War II, Carter had no desire to see a pro-Shah regime in power. He preferred the Ayatollah, whom he seemed to regard as a Gandhi-like figure. The comparison made sense to a point: the Ayatollah opposed the Shah, who had a terrible record of human rights abuses. But that's where the comparison breaks down. Gandhi was nonviolent. The Ayatollah was anything but.
Huyser awoke when he realized what was really going on. His orders did not reflect the president's real intentions. While Carter was pressuring the Shah to make what he called "human rights concessions," the president was actually working through the US Embassy and the State Department to put Khomeini in power. At that point, Khomeini had been in exile in France for fourteen years.
On the ground in Iran, things only worsened for the government. Bakhtiar urged the Shah to leave. On 16 January 1979, the Shah and his family fled to Egypt as the protests brought the regime to its knees. They would never see their home again.
As for Khomeini, his exile was nearly over.
THE AYATOLLAH RETURNS
It is Thursday, 1 February 1979, and over one million people fill the streets of Tehran. The hordes are organized to greet a triumphal Khomeini as he returns to Iran. Roads for twenty-five miles around the airport are impassible, clogged with people and cars. Millions more are glued to televisions, awaiting the Ayatollah. All are hoping for a glimpse of the holy man.
A military guard at the airport stands ready to receive Khomeini, with the full support of President Jimmy Carter. After five and a half hours of flight from Paris, the Air France plane settles to the ground and taxies down the tarmac. The Ayatollah's bodyguards, a motley crew of thirty to forty highly-trained Libyans, deplane first, followed by Khomeini himself. As he steps onto Persian soil for the first time in fourteen years and into the bright Iranian morning, this is the dawn of more than just another day.
The Ayatollah boards a blue and white Chevrolet and joins a motorcade that pushes its tumultuous way through the heart of Tehran. His trip is anything but aimless. Khomeini tells his driver to take him to the Behesht-e Zahra cemetery, the resting place of many martyrs, victims of Iranian Army troops under the Shah. Supporters, some of whom assembled there as early as 3:00 AM, wait in eager anticipation. Khomeini's car stops, and he delivers a speech that changes everything.
"I must tell you that Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, that evil traitor, has gone," he says. "He fled and plundered everything. He destroyed our country and filled our cemeteries. He ruined our country's economy. Even the projects he carried out in the name of progress pushed the country toward decadence. He suppressed our culture, annihilated people and destroyed all our manpower resources."
But Khomeini's goal isn't to merely demonize the Shah. The Ayatollah is here to lay down the law. "We are saying this man, his government, his Majlis [parliament] are all illegal," he continues with profound authority. "If they were to continue to stay in power, we would treat them as criminals and would try them as criminals. I shall appoint my own government. I shall slap this government in the mouth. I shall determine the government with the backing of this nation, because this nation accepts me."
It's a declaration of war on the government of Prime Minister Bakhtiar, whose days are now officially numbered. Khomeini plans to establish a cleric-dominated theocracy with himself as chief spiritual and political leader, and there is no place in that scheme for a Westernized leader like Bakhtiar. The mullahs had been preaching the need for an Islamic theocracy for over twenty years. Khomeini's speech is a clear decree that their time has arrived.
A grim scene quickly unfolds. Many of the generals who worked to stabilize the country are soon assassinated. Slower on his feet than the Shah, Bakhtiar flees to France but does not escape the revolution. Khomeini's assassins murder him in his new home-a token of another, more troubling reality. The Ayatollah's plans for Islamic revolution will not be contained by Iran's borders. The revolution's destiny is to spread across the globe, often by blood and terror.
Taking a cue from the French Revolution of 1789, hasty show trials pave the way for politically and religiously motivated executions. No opposition is brooked. Heretics and dissidents are imprisoned and killed. Mothers even turn in disloyal sons, which the Ayatollah publicly applauds.
Iranian students overrun the US embassy on 4 November 1979, taking fifty-two American diplomats and citizens captive. The hostages are held for 444 days through delicate political negotiations and an ill-fated and abortive attempt by the Carter administration to rescue them.
Considering his regrettable involvement, it is fitting that America would remember President Carter's performance amidst the crisis. He refused to solicit our allies' support to stop the Ayatollah from returning to Iran. He refused to give material support to Bakhtiar's government. And most devastating of all, he refused to publicly condemn Khomeini. His grand scheme of undermining the Shah exploded in his face. The events in Iran would ultimately destroy his political career and contribute to the birth of our current crisis with radical Islam. They would also pave the way for one of the world's most serious nuclear threats since the Soviet Union.
DREAM OF THE AYATOLLAH
There is a photograph of Khomeini on that historic flight back to Iran. Traveling through the night, Khomeini sat off by himself, in a comfortable first-class seat. The picture shows him in a moment of satisfied meditation. A deep inner joy appears to emanate from his face. In this instant, Ayatollah Khomeini is savoring the approaching moment when his life-long aspirations are finally about to be realized.
His eyes look down and to the right, distantly as if into the past, maybe into the future. He is seventy-nine years old, but he appears venerable, by no means senile. A trademark black turban sits on his head, his visage distinguished by a flowing white beard, his often fierce dark eyes highlighted by arching eyebrows. His lips are pursed in a private smile. His hands are folded quietly in his lap, gracing the folds of his long robe.
The photograph captures a moment of silent calm before the wild storm of public frenzy breaks upon him.
Ayatollah Khomeini returned to bring his radical Islamic revolution to Iran. He believed this was the first step of his revolution sweeping across the world. Khomeini's heart burned with the vision that the West, led by the United States, would come under Islam's grip. Soon, the illegitimate state of Israel would be eliminated. He was convinced all other religions would give way to Islam and a Muslim theocracy would be established in every corner of the globe. Before 11 September 2001, such an idea sounded fantastical, even absurd to Westerners. It's much easier now to understand that when men like the Ayatollah speak, there are throngs of believers waiting to translate those words into deeds-some of them terrible to behold.
The power Ayatollah Khomeini held over the Iranian population was almost mystical in nature. He was a Shi'ite Muslim, a minority in a world where the vast majority of Islamic adherents are Sunni. (Iran is one of the few countries where Shi'ites are in the majority.)
The dispute between Sunnis and Shi'ites goes back to the death of the Prophet Mohammed, in the seventh century. The first Islamic theocracy was founded in Medina, a Saudi Arabian city north of Mecca. The Sunni branch of the religion believes that the first four caliphs are the rightful successors of Mohammed. The Shi'ites believe that only the fourth caliph, Ali, is the legitimate successor.
The distinctions don't stop there. In 941 AD, a religious leader known as the Mahdi, or the Twelfth Imam, supposedly disappeared down a well near Jamkaran, in Iran's Qom province. Shi'ites believe that he was hidden or "occulted" but will one day reemerge to oversee a millennial-style age of peace, justice, and true belief. Adherents have a messianic view that the way needs to be prepared for the return of the Twelfth Imam, much as many orthodox Jews await the appearance of the Messiah and evangelical Christians await the second coming of Jesus Christ. With the second coming of the Mahdi, Shi'ites expect to realize the final triumph of Islam worldwide.
That final triumph will not come without intense struggle. Khomeini believed that only a properly structured Islamic theocracy could create conditions needed for the return of the Twelfth Imam. As he and his followers saw it, Khomeini was on a mission from God. Divine destiny preordained that he would return to Iran. Divine destiny preordained that his theocracy would start in Iran and then sweep across the world-a motion that would entail apocalyptic wars that would eventually remove the infidel from the Holy Land and unseat America from its role of superpower.
But the Ayatollah died with his work unfinished. By the time of his death in 1989, Khomeini had succeeded only in establishing his theocracy in Iran. Yes, the mullahs were in firm grip of the radical Islamic Republic. But the Jews remained in Israel, and America still held a strong military presence in the Middle East.
Still, Khomeini had humiliated the United States. Khomeini held the American embassy hostages for a record 444 days and savored Carter's defeat as a great victory. On the day Ronald Reagan was inaugurated, Khomeini strategically released the hostages. He acknowledged both Carter's weakness and Reagan's strength.
The Reagan administration ultimately brought down the Berlin Wall and caused the Soviet Union to fall, events that most Americans never imagined they would live to see. Reagan also brought an end to the crisis caused by OPEC's oil embargo. Gone were the long gasoline lines that Americans suffered while Carter was in the White House. But Reagan could not bring down the Ayatollah. In the end, Reagan backed off, legitimately concerned that the Iran-Contra crisis of his second term could become his undoing. Two suicide attacks in 1983 drove the US out of Lebanon. Those events have become the yardstick for Iran's activities. Its leaders believe that if the heat is sufficient, America will retreat.
Khomeini set in motion the dream of a worldwide radical Islamic revolution. Even today, the emotion of Khomeini's 1979 revolution remains as strong as ever in Iran. Ayatollah Khomeini's successor, Ayatollah Khamenei, and Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have picked up Khomeini's cause and are inspired by shared belief in the Mahdi. It is their divine mission to complete the radical Islamic revolution that Ayatollah Khomeini began.
The primary tool to achieve their goal? Nuclear weapons.
NUCLEAR CHESS MATCH
Iran is pursuing a secret nuclear weapons program, in defiance of world diplomats, the United Nations, and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Israel and the United States have both announced that Iran will not be permitted to develop a deliverable nuclear weapon. If current diplomatic attempts to bring Iran into compliance with the inspection requests of the International Atomic Energy Agency do not work, then a preemptive military strike by Israel or the United States becomes increasingly likely.
Only increasing that possibility, President Ahmadinejad has declared to the world that he has a "mission from Allah" to fulfill the preconditions required to commence the second coming of the Mahdi. As such, Ahmadinejad's mission may well include bringing about the apocalypse he believes will pave the way for the return. Such a move would also fulfill the prophecies of Ayatollah Khomeini who foretold that Iran's destiny was to destroy Israel and the United States in a final apocalyptic war.
It's easy to see why the West is uneasy with Iran's pursuit of the bomb.
"We cannot let Iran, a leading sponsor of international terrorism, acquire nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them to Europe, most of central Asia and the Middle East, or beyond," said John R. Bolton, then-undersecretary for arms control and international security in August 2004. "Without serious, concerted, immediate intervention by the international community, Iran will be well on the road to doing so."
Since it is likely one of Iran's first targets, Israel is just as concerned-if not more so. In January 2005, head of the Israeli Defense Force Intelligence Branch, Major General Aharon Ze'evi Farkash, spoke to a group assembled at the National Security Studies Center at the University of Haifa. According to Farkash, "If Iran's uranium enrichment activities are not halted it could develop its first atomic bomb at some point between 2007 and 2009." He opined that Iran was about six months from being able to enrich uranium, a step he described as the "point of no return."
At the Washington Convention Center, on 24 May 2005, I sat across the table from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon during his last trip to Washington DC, and asked, "How dangerous do you consider Iran and its nuclear threat to be?"
Sharon: "Iran is an insane regime, and the center of world terror. Iran will make every effort possible to possess nuclear weapons. This is a danger to the Middle East, a danger to Europe, and a danger to America."
Several highly-placed sources told me that Ariel Sharon had given the order for the State of Israel to be ready by the end of March 2006 for a possible strike on uranium enrichment sites in Iran. Sharon said to me in that meeting, "Israel cannot accept a nuclear Iran, nor can America. We have the ability to deal with this, and we are making all the necessary preparations to be ready."
How soon will Iran have the bomb? Meir Dagan, the head of Mossad, the Israeli Intelligence Agency, told the Knesset in December 2005 that Iran is one to two years away, at the most, from having enriched uranium to build a bomb. Unfortunately, that estimate was off. In an announcement that temporarily sent the US stock market plunging in April 2006, Iran's former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, reported to the Kuwaiti news agency, JUNA, that Iran was producing enriched uranium from 164 centrifuges. He did not identify the location of the processing plant(s). These statements were confirmed in a televised speech on the same day by President Ahmadinejad.
Excerpted from SHOWDOWN WITH NUCLEAR IRAN by MICHAEL D. EVANS JEROME R. CORSI Copyright © 2007 by MICHAEL D. EVANS with JEROME R. CORSI PH.D.. Excerpted by permission.
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