Prof. Alejo Vidal Quadras
Following the death of the Islamic State chief Abu Ibrahim al Qurayshi in a U.S. military raid Thursday, February 3, President Joe Biden underlined that “this horrible terrorist leader is no more.” While this victory should be applauded, has terrorism under the banner of Islam ended?
Biden administration indeed delivered a significant blow to IS terrorists. But its fight against terrorism stands in stark contrast to its feeble approach towards the most active state-sponsor of terrorism in the world today, as it tries to revive the fatally flawed 2015 nuclear deal.
The 2015 deal, commonly known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), provided the mullahs with a windfall of cash in exchange for near-Potemkin limitations on their clandestine nuclear program.
Iran’s ruling theocracy used the money to continue propping up the murderous regime of Bashar-al Assad, instigate a sectarian purge in Iraq under the name of combating ISIS, fund and arm the terrorist Hezbollah in Lebanon, and finance and train the Houthis in Yemen, whose targets have now gone beyond Saudi Arabia.
Terrorism under the banner of Islam has become a global threat, but we should not forget where this threat originated. When Ruhollah Khomeini founded the “Islamic State” in Iran in February 1979, he explicitly called for creating a Shi’ite Crescent. The mullahs have institutionalized the export of “revolution,” which is their extremist interpretation of Islam.
Tehran prolonged a devastating war with Iraq for eight years, leaving millions of dead on both sides and severely damaging both countries’ infrastructures. Khomeini had vowed to continue the Iran-Iraq war “until the last break of a house in Tehran.”
Khomeini died shortly after the war, but his successor, Ali Khamenei, has continued his legacy to this day. Tehran formed the extraterritorial Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) in 1989 to continue its warmongering policies. The Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, killed in a drone strike in 2020, masterminded the Iran regime’s terrorist operations in the Middle East.
But Tehran’s rampant terrorism has not been limited to that region. February 5 marks the anniversary of the historic conviction of Assadollah Assadi, a Tehran’s Vienna-based diplomat, who had plotted to bomb the opposition’s rally in France in 2018. Assadi personally delivered the bomb to his two other accomplices, while a third operative was arrested in France. The court in Antwerp, Belgium, condemned Assadi and his accomplices to 15 to 20 years in prison, underscoring that the failed bombing was a sign of “state terrorism.”
The venue Assadi was poised to blow up in France was filled with nearly 100,000 Iranians and hundreds of international dignitaries, including current and former high-level officials, and many European lawmakers. Had the bomb exploded, many of them along with thousands more could have been killed or maimed
Tehran has continued its terrorist activities since Assadi’s conviction and the network Assadi coordinated throughout Europe remains intact.
President Biden and his team should remember that Iranian diplomats they seek to meet directly are not different from Assadi. Hossain Amir Abdollahian, Tehran’s Foreign Minister, has brazenly boasted that he will continue Soleimani’s path.
The rogue regime in Tehran has made it clear that it has no intention of ending its regional adventurism and remains hell-bent on acquiring an atomic bomb. To this end, it has produced uranium metal, whose only purpose is for a weapon, and enriched uranium beyond the permitted level in JCPOA. While Western officials drag their feet with nuclear negotiations and hesitate to punish Tehran for its belligerence, the mullahs’ Houthi proxies target American allies in the region.
In a nutshell, without holding the Iranian regime accountable, claims of combatting terrorism are empty rhetoric. ISIS is the Sunni version of the terrorist Islamic State ruling Iran, which has been wreaking havoc in the region and killing Iranians by invoking “Shi’ite” Islam.
Western governments, particularly the U.S, should adopt a firm policy vis-à-vis the Iranian regime. Providing Tehran with another windfall would only result in more crises in the region. The regime should not be given any sanctions relief. On the contrary, the mullahs should be punished for their actions. The head of the serpent of terrorism and Islamic Fundamentalism should be crushed in Tehran.
Failure to do so would result in the innocent people in Iran and the Middle East, as well as citizens of other countries, paying the high price of a bad deal with a terrorist regime that has no scruples to carry out terrorist attacks to preserve its rule.
Alejo Vidal-Quadras, a Spanish professor of atomic and nuclear physics, was the first vice-president of the European Parliament from 2004 to 2007. He is currently president of the Brussels-based International Committee in Search of Justice (ISJ)