The White House said Thursday it is taking seriously the allegations by former hostages that Iran's hardline president-elect, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was one of their captors at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran a quarter century ago.
President Bush told foreign reporters he has "no information, but obviously his involvement raises many questions."
"As soon as I saw the face, it rang a lot of bells to me," Don Sharer, who served as the embassy's naval attache at the time, told CNN. "...Take 20 years off of him. He was there. He was there in the background, more like an adviser."
[C]ontrary to the common perception, this election is not so much a sign of the Iranian system's strength as of its weakness. Last week's presidential election is only the most recent example of the tactical wisdom and strategic foolishness of Iran's ruling mullahs.
All the reformist candidates, particularly Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, as well as the approximately 70 percent of the electorate who voted for reformists or boycotted the election, sought above all to limit Khamenei's increasing despotism. Rather than accepting this possible outcome, Khamenei and his allies made a grab for absolute power.
In the process they may have unwittingly opened the door for democracy -- because their hardball tactics have created the most serious rift in the ranks of ruling mullahs since the inception of the Islamic Republic. The experience of emerging democracies elsewhere has shown that dissension within ruling circles has often presaged the fall of authoritarianism.
Early in 1979, Mr. Ahmadinejad became a leader of an organization called the Office for Strengthening of Unity Between Universities and Theological Seminaries, known as the OSU, which helped orchestrate the seizure of the embassy. The organization was set up by Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, then a close confidant of the Ayatollah Khomeini. The following year, when Khomeini staged what he referred to as an "Islamic Cultural Revolution," Mr. Ahmadinejad and the OSU helped purge dissident students and university lecturers, many of whom were arrested and subsequently executed.
UPDATE II: From The Ayn Rand Institute: Death to "Diplomacy" with Iran by Elan Journo .
A committed enemy of the West, Iran is the ideological wellspring of Islamic terrorism, and the "world's most active sponsor of terrorism" (according to the U.S. government). A totalitarian regime that viciously punishes "un-Islamic" behavior among its own citizens, Iran actively exports its contempt for freedom and human life throughout the infidel world. For years it has been fomenting and underwriting savage attacks on Western and American interests, using such proxies as Hezbollah. Like several of the 9/11 hijackers before them, many senior Al Qaida leaders, fugitives of the Afghanistan war, have found refuge in Iran. And lately Iran has funneled millions of dollars, arms and ammunition to insurgents in Iraq.
It's absurd to think that by offering Iran rewards to halt its aggression, we will deflect it from its goal.
The only consequence of engaging such a vociferously hostile regime in negotiations is the whitewashing of its crimes and the granting of undeserved legitimacy. The attempt to conciliate Iran with "incentives" further inflames the boldness of Iran's mullahs. What it teaches them is that the West lacks the intellectual self-confidence to name its enemies and deal with them accordingly. It vindicates the mullahs' view that their religious worldview can bring a scientific, technologically advanced West to its knees.
UPDATE III -- July 11: From The Jerusalem Post: The mask is off and no one cares by Caroline Glick.
IN A nutshell, Ahmadinejad is the personification of everything that the US and its erstwhile European allies claim that the war against global terrorism is seeking to defeat. He is a religious fanatic, a terror commander with global reach who seeks to destabilize the world and he is planning a no holds barred sprint to the finish line of Iran's race to acquire nuclear weapons which, he promises, will be used to protect the entire Islamic world.
This naturally begs the question, now that the mask of "reform" has been removed from the Iranian face, what will the US and Europe do? Will they accept that there is no diplomatic way of dealing with a regime that, in selecting Ahmadinejad as president has finally admitted that it remains fully committed to the destruction of Western civilization? Or will they try to ignore the obvious and tell themselves that a deal can still be reached if the payoff is high enough? The signs are mixed but discouraging. ...
While it is not surprising that the EU will do everything humanly possible to continue to appease terrorists even if it has no plausible way to deny that they are in fact terrorists, that the US reaction to both Iran's new president and Hamas's increased empowerment [in the Palestinian terroritories] has been so muddled is a major disappointment.
Posted by Forkum at June 30, 2005 10:14 PM