Ahmadinejad, a former senior commander of the feared terror-sponsoring Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (the "Pasdaran"), has a despicable past as a fire-brand radical who has been recognized by at least six Americans former hostage to have been involved in capturing and holding of Americans for 444 days in 1979.
Now, as city of New York prepares for the anniversary of the September 11 tragedy, it could very well find itself hosting a hostage-taker who has become a head of an outlaw state. According to press reports in Iran, Ahmadinejad is supposed to be arriving in New York in mid-September to address the opening ceremonies of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
Although there are no diplomatic relations between Iran and the United States, as a president of a UN member state, Ahmadinejad, despite his wicked record, is covered by diplomatic immunity. UN headquarters in New York are also considered international territory, and not property of the United States. Still, this should not deter the United States to take a stand against his entry into this country.
We should keep in mind that , similar to a mafia-like world, in Iran under mullahs’ rule only those who kill, torture, plunder and deceive more can move up the ladder from being an obscure Guards’ commander to a head of state. To mullahs, the only accepted form of loyalty is the loyalty demonstrated by years of directly participating in ensuring the survival of ruling tyranny.
The Ahamdinejad’s terrorist past, however, goes beyond the US Embassy takeover. He was a top commander in the Revolutionary Guards special unit named the Qods (Jerusalem) Force and participated in planning and execution of many extra-territorial terrorist operations.
The Qods Force has been documented to have extensive and deep relationship with Iran’s proxy terrorist organization such as Lebanese Hizbollah and the Islamic Jihad. According to mounting evidence collected by the Austrian officials and Iranian Kurdish groups, Ahmadinejad was directly involved in assassination of Abdolrahman Qassemlou, a dissident Kurdish leader, in Vienna in 1989. It is also reported that he was involved in planning of an assassination attempt against British author Salman Rushdi when in the Qods Force.
While six American hostages have unequivocally confirmed that Ahmadinejad was one of their captors and "nasty" interrogators, Washington seems unsure how forceful it should press this issue. Administration has already gone as far as saying he was a leader in the student movement that organized the embassy siege but has stopped short of implicating him.
The administration apparent wavering on this issue is alarming. Sidestepping this matter will send the worst possible signal to the mullahs and to the always-ready-to-appease Europeans.
It is just over a week since Ahmadinejad has entered his office but mullahs’ rogue resurgence is on full display. The barbaric crackdown of popular unrest in many western Iranian cities is on the rise, and the campaign to fuel the insurgency in Iraq is escalating. Last week, news agencies reported that US intelligence believes that a cache of sophisticated manufactured bombs recently seized in Iraq was smuggled into the country from Iran by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps.
To firm up alliance with another rogue regime of the region, Syrian president Bashar Assad was invited to visit Tehran just a day after Ahmadinejad was inaugurated. The hastily arranged visit complements an array of praise heaped on Ahmadinejad by several leaders of Hizbollah, particularly after his remarks about the "art of martyrdom". Also last week, Tehran broke its Paris agreement with Britain, Germany, and France and started the resumption of nuclear work at one of its facilities.
Still, Ahmadinejad’s involvement in the 1979 US Embassy take-over presents the administration by far with the most compelling reason to deny him visa. When the choice is between granting him UN-sanctioned visa and taking a firm and principled stand, the choice is clear.
Hamid Namvar is a freelance writer covering Iran-related issues