Iran: remind me now, which are the terrorists?

From an Iranian perspective it is hard to understand what the word ‘terrorist’ means in the American political lexicon. The meaning keeps changing
Habib Ahmadzadeh Leila Zand
5 July 2010

They say that in 1953 when Dr. Mossadegh was in Lahha court, he took a seat which had been designated for the British ambassador. The Judge asked him repeatedly to change his seat, but Dr. Mosadegh ignored him. Finally the British Ambassador came over and said to him: "This seat has been assigned to me." Mosasegh looked at him and said, "Of course I know that. I just want you to be able to understand what it feels like to have someone else occupying your place/land."

Abdul Malek Rigi is the founder of Jundullah (God's soldier) in Eastern Iran, on the border with Pakistan. The Iranian Intelligent Service (IIS) arrested him on 23 February 2010, as he was travelling from Kyrgyzstan to Dubai. His arrest was a cause for celebration for many people. He has the blood of many innocent people on his hands. The Iranian Intelligence Service had been looking for him for years. Shortly after his arrest Robert Baer, a former CIA officer, said, "Jundullah was one of the militant groups in Iran benefiting from US support." Isn't that bizarre? The United States of America, the leader of the 'war on terror', has been supporting a well-known terrorist group!

We should not have been surprised, of course. The United States created Al-Qaida and the Taliban and supported both organizations for many years. But each of these groups had an expiry date. When that date passed, they became terrorists, to be destroyed by the mighty army of the US.

The word 'terrorist' has no fixed definition in the American political lexicon. Anyone or any groups opposing US interests can be deemed to be a 'terrorist'. Conversely, as long as they abide by US interests, they remain allies of the US and enjoy its support both financially and strategically.

It is well known that Bin Laden, the infamous Middle East 'terrorist' was created by America during the Cold War. Then the Cold War ended and the US no longer needed Al-Qaida or the Taliban, which were then deemed to be terrorist groups. Both groups had the blood of innocent people on their hands, of course. But it was only when the US no longer needed their services that it questioned their actions. This was when the superpower remembered its responsibility and its mission and launched into its war on terror.

The story of Saddam Hussein is one that is deeply connected to the personal lives of Iran's people. During the 1980s no Iranian could escape from images of Saddam and his army. This was the mighty army behind which the US had thrown its weight. Theirs were the bombs and missiles that rained down on the heads of Iranians in Tehran and other cities. Chemical weapons were used against both Iraqi and Iranians. These weapons were given to Saddam – who was not yet deemed to be a terrorist -- by the superpower, the USA.

The US has either created or supported three major terrorist organizations in the Middle East. Abdul Malek Rigi and his Jundallah was not the first. But they were the first since the US officially started its war on terror in the Middle East. We're still waiting to learn how the US defines the word 'terrorist'.

When Abdul Malek Rigi was captured and paraded on television we were reminded of the moment when Saddam Husain was arrested by American soldiers. That too was a moment of victory and happiness. But there was a big difference. By the time that President Bush announced "Mission Accomplished", by the time Saddam was arrested, thousand of Iraqis and hundreds of Americans had died (by now these numbers have of course increased to millions for Iraqis and thousands for Americans). Iraq was destroyed. Many Iraqis had lost their homes and were living in misery. Was it really worth it? Couldn't America's security services, by far the most sophisticated in the world, not have captured Saddam as the Iranians did Rigi? That was achieved without shedding a drop of blood.

In the case of Bin Laden, the story is even worse. In Afghanistan, the mission is still not accomplished. In late 2009 the US deployed 35,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Only last week NATO killed some 30 innocent civilians there.

Many observers say that the US needs Iran in order for there to be peace in Afghanistan and Iraq. One might add that the US could learn a lot from Iran about how to handle terrorists, and indeed how to capture them.

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