As Iran’s state-run shipping company (IRISL) was being indicted for conspiring to funnel weapons to terrorist organizations, the Islamist Republic was hosting a two-day conference on combating global terrorism.
IRISL was one of eleven companies indicted in New York City on charges of evading US trade sanctions with Iran by illegally funneling $60 million through Manhattan area financial institutions in an attempt to supply weapons to terrorist organizations.
Moreover, according to a statement issued by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, IRISL had also violated UN Security Council Resolutions by “chartering vessels to transport IRISL cargo containers of ammunition and weaponry from Iran to countries linked to international terrorism.”
In one specific case, the DA’s office noted that in November 2009, 36 Iranian cargo vessels found transporting “hundreds of tons of weaponry” had been interdicted en route to Beirut. As Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance stated, “It is alleged that this shipment was intended for Hezbollah.”
The timing of the indictment was noteworthy as it came only days before the Iranian government hosted a two-day weekend conference in Tehran on the issue of fighting global terrorism. In attendance were six presidents, several prime ministers and representatives from 60 nations.
Giving the event – entitled International Conference on Global Fight Against Terrorism — an international blessing was UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon. Apparently unaware of the IRISL indictment, Ki-moon said he welcomed the Iranian-sponsored conference as being “helpful in implementing UN resolutions aimed at combating terrorism.”
The conference agenda focused its time and energy on a robust and detailed denunciation of both the United States and Israel. Of course, that theme came as little surprise to those who had heard Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi say before the start of the conference that terrorism had been created by the West – in particular the United States – but it was “the East which was suffering from it.”
To solidify that point, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei led off the conference by accusing the United States and other Western governments of having “a black record in terrorist behavior.” As such, he then called on Muslims “to confront and fight this inauspicious offspring.”
Not to be outdone, Khamenei was followed by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who whipped up the crowd by that charging the United States had manufactured both the Holocaust and 9⁄11 attacks as a pretext by which to quash Muslims.
From there, the conference attendees heard from a number of other dignitaries and experts who spoke further on the Western role in fomenting terrorism and its horrific effect on the world.
Perhaps the conference’s foremost expert speaker on this topic was Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who addressed the forum despite being wanted by the International Criminal Court since 2009 on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
For twenty years, al-Bashir and his totalitarian Islamic regime have conducted two campaigns of mass murder, mass expulsion, and mass rapes, first in Southern Sudan and then in Darfur.
Now, al-Bashir is launching a third campaign against Southern Sudan, despite a negotiated deal to allow it to secede from Sudan. Consequently, Bashir has – according to UN estimates –already expelled 100,000 people from disputed Sudanese areas in a viscous campaign of selected killings and widespread destruction.
Apparently, however, human rights weren’t a topic open to discussion at the conference, and certainly not as it related to Iran’s own human rights record. When the subject was broached at a press conference promoting the terrorism summit, Salehi dismissed it by saying the issue of human rights had become nothing more than a “political tool by the West.”
While the Iranians may have used most of the conference to shoot propaganda volleys at the West, it did achieve some strategic results. Specifically, the Islamist Republic announced at the conference conclusion that it had agreed to join forces with Afghanistan and Pakistan in combating terrorism.
That agreement moved Iran one step closer toward controlling the strategically vital area that includes Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Iran has long been trying to eliminate the American and Western military presence in the region, efforts that have come closer to fruition as the US prepares to soon end its military presence in Iraq as well as accelerate its withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Consequently, these Iranian efforts help to explain why three of the six presidents at the terrorism conference included Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai, Pakistan’s Asif Ali Zardari and Iraq’s Jalal Talabani. However, Iran’s courtship with these nations has been ongoing for some time.
For example, prior to the conference, Iran and Afghanistan had inked a bi-lateral counter-terrorism agreement, which according to Iran’s Deputy Interior Minister Ali Abdollahi, both countries would “exchange intelligence to launch simultaneous operations against terrorist and extremist groups.”
Abdollahi also stated that Iran was already engaged in providing training to the Afghan police, adding that the “Islamic Republic was willing to continue the important effort.”
Of course, not mentioned in Abdollahi’s statement were Iran’s still ongoing efforts to arm, train and provide safe-haven to both Taliban and al-Qaeda forces.
As for Iran and Iraq, both countries have been busily forging ever closer economic, military and foreign policy ties. A result of that blossoming friendship has been recent Iranian attempts to reassure Iraqis that an absence of America’s military presence will not threaten its security. Yet, lost in those reassurances have been any mention of Iran’s past and present efforts to fund, train and arm al-Qaeda and other insurgent groups within Iraq.
Finally, even though Pakistan has in the past accused Iran of funding insurgent groups within its borders, it hasn’t stopped a growing friendship between the two nations. In fact, only days before the conference, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced an agreement to further strengthen bilateral cooperation and mutual engagement between the two countries. As Ali Zardari said, “We need to take full advantage for our geo-strategic locations for ushering in a new era of development in our countries, in particular, and in the whole region.”
So, as Iran continues to forge more and more security and economic pacts with nations it has and – in some cases – still is terrorizing, the inescapable conclusion one can only draw is that in the Iranian case at least: terrorism indeed works. It is an interesting topic that maybe the Islamist regime will bring up for discussion at Tehran’s next international conference on fighting terrorism.
Frank Crimi is a writer living in San Diego, California. You can read more of Frank’s work at his blog, www.politicallyunbalanced.com.
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