Daily TIP

Late Iranian President Rafsanjani was no moderate

Posted by Tip Staff - January 09, 2017

 

Despite several obituaries commemorating former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani as a moderate, he presided over several terrorist attacks and assassinations while president and called for the destruction of Israel. Four Iranian-Kurdish dissidents were assassinated at a Berlin restaurant in 1992; a German court found that the murders were ordered by the “highest state levels” of Iran, specifically the Committee for Special Operations, a special body of which then-President Rafsanjani was a part. The German prosecutors said explicitly that the killings had been ordered by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Rafsanjani. That same year, Iran was responsible for blowing up the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires; two years later, the Jewish community center servicing that city was likewise blown up. Both of these terrorist attacks occurred under Rafsanjani’s presidency. According to the indictment drawn up by Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who died under mysterious circumstances in January 2015, the final go-ahead for the community center bombing was given by Khamenei and Rafsanjani. The indictment called for the arrest of Rafsanjani and seven others. Iran carried out the bombing of the Khobar Towers apartment complex in Saudi Arabia in 1996, which killed 19 U.S. Air Force personnel and a Saudi national, and wounded hundreds more. Rafsanjani was the president of Iran at the time. Then-FBI director Louis Freeh said, "The bombers admitted they had been trained by the Iranian external security service (IRGC) in the Beka Valley, and received their passports at the Iranian Embassy in Damascus, along with $250,000 cash for the operation from IRGC Gen. Ahmad Sharifi.” Freeh also told Congress that "the attack was planned, funded and sponsored by senior leadership in the government of the Republic of Iran [and] that the IRGC principally had the responsibility of putting that plan into operation.” Rafsanjani made explicit threats to destroy Israel, including through the use of nuclear weapons. In 2001, he exclaimed, “If one day the Islamic world is also equipped with weapons like those that Israel possesses now, then the imperialists’ strategy will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything.” Rafsanjani said in 2015 that he was confident that Israel would be wiped off the map and added, “When, and how that will happen, depends on conditions which are rapidly changing. Those conditions can be provided very soon if the usefulness period of Israel will expire.”

 

Fatah and Hamas, the two main Palestinian political parties, have expressed praise for a terror attack that killed four Israelis in Jerusalem on Sunday. Fadi al-Qunbar, a suspected ISIS supporter, drove a truck into a group of Israeli soldiers, killing Lt. Yael Yekutiel (age 20), Cadet Shir Hajaj (22), Cadet Shira Tzur (20), and Cadet Erez Orbach (20). The Palestinian reaction to the terror attack stood in stark contrast to the near unanimous condemnation by much of the rest of the world, a number of whom stated explicitly that there was no excuse to terror.   While the attack was condemned by the United States, European Union, United Nations Security Council, and other leading bodies, it was met with praise by Palestinian leaders. Residents of Gaza handed out candies to celebrate the deaths. Fatah, the political party headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, called the terror attack a “martyrdom operation” in a tweet from its official account.   Hamas spokesman Abdul-Latif Qanou called it a “heroic” act and called on more Palestinians to “escalate the resistance,” CBS reported Sunday. Qanou boasted that Palestinian terror has returned, saying, “it may be quiet, it may linger, but it will never end.” The terror group bragged in a press release last week that it had killed seventeen Israelis in 2016.

 

A U.S. Navy destroyer operating near the Strait of Hormuz was forced to fire three warning shots at four approaching Iranian boats which failed to heed initial warning signs. “This was an unsafe and unprofessional interaction, and that is due to the fact that they were approaching at a high level of speed with weapons manned and disregarding repeated warnings,” Captain Jeff Davis, a Defense Department spokesman, said of the Sunday incident. The USS Mahan gave radio warnings for the Iranian boats, operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), to halt, but the vessels ignored them, ultimately coming within 900 yards of the U.S. destroyer and only turning around once the warning shots had been fired. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday that “this behavior is not acceptable given that the USS Mahan was operating in international waters.” Davis told reporters that there had been 58 incidents between U.S. and Iranian boats that were unsafe and unprofessional since the beginning of 2015: 23 in 2015 and 35 in 2016. The chief of Central Command, Gen. Joseph Votel, told Congress last March that Iran had become “more aggressive in the days since the [Iran nuclear] agreement.” Votel has also said, “It’s about the Iranian regime and their desire to continue to do these types of things that stoke instability or attempt to stoke instability in the region.” In November, a vessel belonging to the IRGC trained its machine gun at a U.S. Navy helicopter in the Strait of Hormuz. In September, Iran threatened to shoot down two American planes flying over the same body of water. Also that month, seven armed boats belonging to the IRGC Navy swarmed a U.S. Navy patrol ship in the Persian Gulf, forcing it to change course after the Iranians came within 100 yards and stopped their vehicles in the American ship’s path. Sailors aboard the USS Nitze recorded an encounter in August when Iranian boats came as close as 300 yards, forcing it and the USS Mason to change course to avoid a collision. Two weeks later, two U.S. patrol coastal ships, the USS Tempest and the USS Squall, were operating in international waters in the northern Gulf when IRGC boats approached them at high speed and passed within 600 yards of the Tempest three times. The Iranians ignored radio warnings that their actions were dangerous. These actions came just a few months after ten American sailors and their two boats were seized by IRGC naval forces in January of last year, in violation of international law.

 

Anyone who has flown in or out of Tel Aviv can surely attest to the congestion felt at Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport. A recent Israel Airports Authority report shows an increase of 1.6 million passengers passing through the transportation hub on international flights in 2016 as compared to 2015 figures. According to the Israel Airports Authority, 17,387,971 passengers passed through Ben-Gurion Airport on international flights last year. Five airlines created nearly 50% of all traffic at Ben-Gurion Airport: El Al (5.5 million passengers); Turkish Airlines (932,000 passengers); EasyJet (719,000 passengers); Aeroflot (704,000 passengers); Arkia (650,000), and Israir (548,000 passengers). (via Israel21c)