The news of the killing of the Al Qaeda leader, usama bin Laden, was truly joyous and a shining moment in our history where justice was served. It made our enemies aware of the fact that we do not forget nor forgive those who do us harm. We will pursue them no matter how long it takes until justice has been done.
However, the demise of Bin Laden should be the beginning of our search as to how we got into such vulnerable position in the first place. We must make sure that no enemy can ever again be allowed to bring harm upon us because of our own failings.
Bin Laden, who founded Al Qaeda in the late eighties, began terrorizing the world shortly thereafter with bombing attacks in Yemen, Egypt, and the U.S. Embassy in East Africa where over 300 souls lost their lives. The U.S. did not take notice until October, 2000 when the suicide attack on the USS Cole took 17 servicemen’s lives.
Bin Laden was emboldened with each subsequent act of terror because the lack of action by U.S. was seen as a weakness and further verification that he was invincible. Clearly, it appeared to him, Allah was on his side.
He then began his most aggressive act and took it directly from the Koran (8:12): "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.”
His commitment was total and led to the most heinous crime ever executed on America soil nearly 10 years ago. It instigated our fight on terror and the ensuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Billions of dollars have been spent, draining our economy to the point of bankruptcy, and costing the lives of thousands of our heroes. Yet it is our failure to know and understand the enemy and the ideology that drives him that allowed one hateful individual to grow so powerful as to bring us to such profound harm.
There is an eerie similarity here with the radicals ruling Iran. They proudly bombed the Marine Barracks in Beirut in 1983 killing over 240 of our best and then boasted about it. Mohsen Rafiqdoost, then the Minister of the Revolutionary Guards, publicly stated that: “Both the TNT and the ideology, which in one blast sent to hell 400 officers, NCOs, and soldiers at the Marine’s headquarters, were provided by Iran.” In response, we removed our forces from Lebanon.
The Iranians formed Hezbollah, helped Islamic Jihad, armed and trained terrorists across the region and took hostages with fatal results. For their efforts, we rewarded them with arms in exchange for the freedom of a few (Iran Contra). Our actions, or lack thereof, again signaled our weakness and affirmed their belief that Allah is the one and only God and that they have his protection.
The Iranian leaders, encouraged with their continuing success, became ever more aggressive carrying out terrorist attacks through their proxies such as the Khobar Tower bombing in Saudi Arabia and the Jewish community center bombing in Argentina. And the West meekly offered negotiations as the only solution to their atrocious acts. The Iranians have for years armed and trained Shiite militias in Iraq with a strategy to bring down our forces, harm them, and drain the U.S. economically. All the U.S. officials have done is to issue stern warnings!
Today the jihadists in Tehran, strengthened by their actions and reassured by their beliefs, know that they are Allah’s chosen ones to bring about the demise of America and the destruction of Israel. They are encouraged to aggressively continue on with their terrorist activities around the world, and their ongoing support of terrorist groups including Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Al Qaeda, Taliban, and others in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen and Africa. All the while, they expand their missile delivery system and their nuclear bomb project.
The Revolutionary Guards currently hold more than a 1,000 ballistic missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv, Riyadh, U.S. bases in Iraq, the Fifth Fleet headquarters in Bahrain and capitals in Western Europe. At the same time, they are working with the North Koreans and the Chinese on intercontinental ballistic missiles and the nuclear weaponization of their warheads.
Many of the Iranian leaders are known terrorists and on the Interpol’s most wanted list. This includes the current Iranian defense minister and former Quds Force commander and the chief intelligence officer of the Guards, Ahmad Vahidi, who is wanted for the 1994 Jewish center bombing in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 and injured hundreds. As the defense minister, Mr. Vahidi is directly responsible for the Iranian nuclear bomb and missile programs, and is also in charge of the proliferation of arms to terrorists in the Middle East and the world.
We cannot allow history to repeat itself. Today we are facing an evil much worse than Bin Laden and Al Qaeda.
Appeasement and vacillation do not work. World peace, global stability and millions of lives are on the line. Our first priority should be to stop these radicals in their tracks and to help Iranians free themselves from this evil. A new regime in Iran could transform the world for the better securing global stability and an end to much of terrorism throughout the world.
Let Bin Laden’s death serve as a wakeup call to the menace of radical Islamists ruling Iran and the need to confront them before it’s too late for all of us. The threat is still there and is very real.
Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for an ex-CIA spy who requires anonymity for safety reason. “A Time to Betray,” his book about his double life as a CIA agent in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, was published by Simon & Schuster in April.