Archive for Iran

Peter King: Iran May Have ‘Hundreds’ Of Hezbollah Agents In U.S.

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2012 by loonwatch

Peter King: Iran May Have ‘Hundreds’ Of Hezbollah Agents In U.S.



WASHINGTON — Iranian-backed Hezbollah agents, not al Qaeda operatives, may pose the greatest threat on U.S. soil as tensions over Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program ratchet up, according to the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

“As Iran moves closer to nuclear weapons and there is increasing concern over war between Iran and Israel, we must also focus on Iran’s secret operatives and their number one terrorist proxy force, Hezbollah, which we know is in America,” said New York Rep. Peter King at a Wednesday hearing of his committee.

The hearing, which featured former government officials and the director of intelligence analysis for the New York Police Department, follows a foiled plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, D.C., and testimony by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in late January that Iran’s leaders are “more willing to conduct an attack inside the United States in response to real or perceived U.S. actions that threaten the regime.”

Opening the hearing, King said, “We have a duty to prepare for the worst,” warning there may be hundreds of Hezbollah operatives in the United States, including 84 Iranian diplomats at the United Nations and in Washington who, “it must be presumed, are intelligence officers.”

But Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said he was concerned that the testimony he was about to hear was based on outdated information and not current intelligence. He noted that “no current federal officials” were asked to testify on Wednesday.

“A word of caution is in order,” Thompson said. “When we examine our relationship with another country, we cannot look at any particular moment in time and pretend that it tells the whole story. We cannot view the politics, history and culture of any other country clearly by seeing a snapshot version.”

Referencing Clapper’s earlier testimony, Thompson said the director of national intelligence should be called in for a classified hearing, but added, “We should not engage in a public discussion that creates fear and delivers misinformation.”

King rejected the Democrat’s objections. “We’re not focusing on foreign policy,” he said. “We’re talking about an internal threat to this country.”

Most of the testimony — which came from former officials at the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and Treasury, among others — concerned Iranian-linked attacks in other countries that dated back decades in some cases. However, Mitchell Silber, head of the NYPD intelligence unit that has come under fire for spying on the city’s Muslim community, said that between 2002 and 2010 his agency and federal authorities detected “at least six events involving Iranian diplomatic personnel that we struggle to categorize as anything other than hostile reconnaissance of New York City.”

The suspicious events, some of them publicly revealed for the first time, involved security guards at the Permanent Mission of Iran to the United Nations and Iranian diplomats stationed in New York. Among the cases Silber cited:

    • On Nov. 16, 2003, at 2 a.m., uniformed NYPD officers on a subway train observed two men filming the train tracks. The men, who initially claimed diplomatic immunity, were security guards at the Iranian Mission who had recently arrived in New York.
    • In May 2004, despite warnings from the State Department, two more Iranian Mission security guards were observed videotaping infrastructure, public transportation and New York City landmarks. A month later, the guards were expelled by the United States, Silber said, for “engaging in activities that were not consistent with their duties,” or spying.
    • In May 2005, six individuals “associated with the Government of Iran” were interviewed by the NYPD after a call to a city hot line reported suspicious behavior. The individuals on a sightseeing cruise were reportedly photographing and videotaping landmarks such as the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges as well as “reportedly speaking on their cellphones in an unusual manner.” One of the individuals worked at the Iranian Mission while the other five had diplomatic immunity based on their positions within the Iranian government. They were later released.
    • In September 2008, during the U.N. General Assembly, several members of the Iranian delegation were seen taking photos of railroad tracks inside Grand Central Station. After questioning, they were “released without incident.
    • In September 2010, again during the U.N. General Assembly, federal air marshals reported suspicious behavior at the Wall Street Heliport, where four people were seen taking “still photos and videotaping the water line and structural area of the heliport landing pad” from a nearby parking lot. The four produced press cards showing they worked for the Iran Broadcasting Co. and were released.

Although authorities could link none of the incidents to actual plots, “Iran has a proven record of using its official presence in a foreign city to coordinate attacks, which are then carried out by Hezbollah agents from abroad, often leveraging the local community — whether wittingly or not — as facilitators,” Silber testified.

Israelis ♥ Iran: A Message of Love and Peace

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , on March 26, 2012 by loonwatch

Bibi Don't Bomb Iran!

Prominent, hawkish leaders in Israel are beating the drums of war, but according to a recent poll, a solid majority of Israelis, both Arab and Jewish, oppose a unilateral strike against Iran.

Israelis are finding creative ways to tell their leaders–and the world–they want peace. Tikkun Daily reports:

Last week, when graphic designers Ronny Edry and Michal Tamir decided to counter the war drums beating in Israel with a simple message of peace to the people of Iran, little did they know it would create a viral Facebook initiative which would help to inspire a massive anti-war rally in Tel Aviv.

On Saturday night, this is precisely what happened, as Israelis flooded Habima Square in Tel Aviv to protest the elevated war rhetoric coming from their leaders and to stand squarely against the hypothetical bombing of Iran.

It’s not difficult to trace much of the momentum for Saturday night’s rally back to the married duo of Edry and Tamir, who last week created images of themselves with the superimposed message, “‘Iranians, we will never bomb your country. We ♥ You.’”

Their images inspired countless Israelis to post their own Facebook versions, which in turn inspired Iranians to do the same, creating a virtual, imagistic message of love cycling between the two peoples. That message also helped to inspire Israeli activists – many of whom were involved with this summer’s social justice protest movement (J14) – to organize the county’s first significant anti-war rally concerning Iran.

Israelis from various walks of life have also posted their message on Youtube, and in a single day, one of the videos was viewed almost 40,000 times:

IRANIANS WE LOVE U: a message to Iran from Israel

Pro-Israel Hawks Steering Debate on Iran

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2012 by loonwatch

Tell us something we don’t know:

Pro-Israel Hawks Steering Debate on Iran

By and  (NYTimes)

WASHINGTON — Even before President Obama declared this month that “I have Israel’s back” in its escalating confrontation with Iran, pro-Israel figures like the evangelical Christian leader Gary L. Bauer and the conservative commentator William Kristol were pushing for more.

In a slickly produced, 30-minute video, the group that the two men lead, the Emergency Committee for Israel, mocked Mr. Obama’s “unshakable commitment to Israel’s security” and attacked his record on Iran as weak. “I’ll be brutally honest: I don’t trust the president on Israel,” Mr. Bauer, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, said in an interview. “I think his record on Israel is abysmal.”

With Israeli leaders warning of an existential threat from Iran and openly discussing the possibility of attacking its nuclear facilities, pro-Israel groups on all sides have mobilized to make their views known to the Obama administration and to Congress. But it is the most hawkish voices, like the Emergency Committee’s, that have dominated the debate, and, in the view of some critics, pushed the United States closer to taking military action against Iran and another war in the Middle East.

“It’s not about Israel,” said Representative Eric Cantor, Republican of Virginia, the House majority leader and a key Congressional ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.

“It’s about the U.S.,” Mr. Cantor said in an interview. “It’s about our interests in the region. There have been a lot of conflicting messages coming out of the White House.”

Among those advocating a more aggressive approach toward Iran are prominent Republicans in Congress, like Mr. Cantor and Senator John McCain of Arizona; the party’s presidential candidates; groups like the Emergency Committee and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or Aipac; the so-called “neocons” from the George W. Bush administration who were strong proponents of the war in Iraq; pro-Israel evangelical Christians like Mr. Bauer, who is also active in the group Christians United for Israel; and many Democrats.

Urging diplomacy are liberal groups like J Street, which is helped by $500,000 a year in contributions from the liberal philanthropist George Soros, and Tikkun, a Jewish journal that has begun running newspaper advertisements here and abroad that urge, “NO War on Iran and NO First Strike!” Tikkun, based in Berkeley, Calif., is hoping to link its antiwar message with the Occupy protests.

“A lot of people talk about the ‘Israel lobby’ as if it’s a monolithic thing,” said Dylan Williams, head of government affairs for J Street. “It’s a myth. There is a deep division between those who support military action at this point and those who support diplomacy.”

Clear fissures have developed among pro-Israel groups — not only between hawks and doves over whether to use military force against Iran, but among hard-liners themselves over just how aggressively to confront it.

Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire casino owner who is a staunch supporter of Israel, was once a major donor to Aipac. But because of Aipac’s support for American aid to the Palestinian Authority, he has broken from the group. This year, Mr. Adelson has given at least $10 million, along with his wife, to support Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign.

Like Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, Mr. Gingrich has pushed for stronger support of Israel and attacked Mr. Obama’s policies on the Iranian issue as weak. He also described the Palestinians as an “invented people.”

The disagreements over what to do about Iran reflect the divisions among Jews themselves. In a survey of American Jews last September by the American Jewish Committee, an advocacy group, 56 percent of those polled said they would support American military action against Iran if diplomacy and sanctions failed, while 38 percent opposed it. Support was down slightly from a year earlier.

Rabbi Michael Lerner, a leader of Tikkun and an affiliated antiwar coalition of religious groups, said backers of diplomacy want to slow what they have seen as a “drumbeat to war” in recent weeks. Rabbi Lerner and other opponents of military action say the debate over Iran echoes the political climate in 2002 before the United States-led invasion in Iraq.

Representative Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat who opposes military action against Iran, said, “The rhetoric is overblown.”

Those advocating military intervention “whip up fear and whip up doomsday scenarios,” Mr. Ellison said in an interview. “It has an effect. If nothing else, they’re making Obama talk about military options with regard to Iran.”

But Mr. Ellison is in the minority on Capitol Hill, where the debate over Israel and Iran was largely settled long ago.

Message to Iran: Free Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , on March 13, 2012 by loonwatch

Youcef

Youcef Nadarkhani should be released from Iranian jail immediately. In fact, he should have never been jailed in the first place.

Nadarkhani faces possible execution in Iran for the “crime” of apostasy and Christian evangelism. In the face of mounting international pressure, the Iranian regime has said Nadarkhani was actually charged with more serious crimes unrelated to religion, but barring new evidence to the contrary, this appears to be a face-saving lie.

The regime in the so-called “Islamic” Republic of Iran urgently needs to reread the Qur’an, including Chapter 109, Surat Al-Kafirun -The Disbelievers, and (among others) verses 2:62, 5:69, and 2:256:

There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing. (Qur’an 2:256)

Further reading should also include the excellent, in-depth article by Danios regarding apostasy in Islam: Fathima Bary Needs to Read Her Bible; Final Word on Islam and Apostasy.

No matter what excuses are offered by Iranian authorities, the persecution of religious minorities is un-Islamic and just plain wrong.

Pastor Nadarkhani, Islam and Punishment for Apostasy

by Harris Zafar, The Huffington Post

Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani is currently on death row in Iran for the “crime” of converting to Christianity from Islam. The charges of his initial arrest in 2009 were for protesting, which were later changed to apostasy and evangelism. In Sept. 2010, an Iranian court verbally delivered a death sentence, which was then delivered in writing a month later by the 1st Court of the Revolutionary Tribunal. After submitting an appeal to the Supreme Court the very next month, the third chamber of the Supreme Court upheld his conviction and death sentence in June 2011 and the execution orders were given in Feb. 2012, which can be implemented at any time. Throughout the process, he was told his life would be spared if he recanted his belief in Christianity, which he refused to do.

This verdict clearly violates numerous human rights, which is why President Obama, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Amnesty International and the American Center for Law and Justice have all condemned this conviction and called for Nadarkhani’s release.

As a Muslim, however, I find this verdict’s religious violations equally troublesome. Far too many people — Muslim and non-Muslim — mistakenly believe Islam prohibits freedom of conscience and religion by prescribing punishments for matters like apostasy and blasphemy, whereas Islam’s Holy Scripture and Prophet do not support such punishments.

If Islam prescribed any earthly punishment for leaving the faith, it would mean that it compels one to be Muslim against their will. But chapter two of the Quran — Islam’s Holy Scripture –rejects this notion, stating, “there shall be no compulsion in religion.”

There are at least 10 direct verses in the Quran about those who leave Islam, none of which sanction death in response. Exemplifying the Quran’s principles, the Prophet Muhammad never ordered any person to be killed for apostasy. In his peace treaty with Meccans, he agreed that any Muslim recanting their faith would be allowed to return to Mecca unharmed. Muhammad’s acceptance of this condition demonstrates that no such punishment exists for apostasy, as he would never accept anything that went against the Shariah.

Yet some within the Muslim world argue these verses only apply to non-Muslims, whereas Muslims can be compelled in matters of religion. They cite examples during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad when Ibn Khatal, Musailmah and Maqees bin Sababah were put to death. These were not religious punishments for apostasy, however. They were political punishments for murders each individual had committed.

Death for apostasy had its birth several decades after the demise of Prophet Muhammad — in an age when use of force for spreading influence and ideology was common around the world. The Ummayyad dynasty (661-750) — the political rulers of the Muslim empire — were regarded as secular kings and did not have the religious position of the previous pious caliphs. To guard the Sharia, the kings appointed clergy to positions much like the clergy after Constantine’s conversion. Respected for their religious knowledge, their support was pursued to legitimize unpopular political regimes.

Political and social rebellions then became justified in religious expressions, and dynastic power struggles developed significant disagreements in religious doctrine. Thus began politically motivated punishments (including executions and crucifixions) aimed at abolishing any forms of objection.

While this view finds no credibility from Prophet Muhammad’s example, it has admittedly become more prevalent in the last century. For example, Abul Ala Maududi, influential cleric and founder of the Pakistani political party Jamaat Islami, advocated this erroneous view beginning in the 1930s. He wrote, “in our domain we neither allow any Muslim to change his religion nor allow any other religion to propagate its faith.”

Many believe Maududi’s view was reactionary and in response to the growing influence of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad — who claimed to be the second coming Jesus and Messiah for all people to remove misconceptions in religion, unite everyone under the banner of true Islam, and bring mankind back to God. Half a century before Maududi, Ahmad condemned any punishment for blasphemy or apostasy and any violence to spread faith. He wrote, “Religion is worth the name only so long as it is in consonance with reason. If it fails to satisfy that requisite, if it has to make up for its discomfiture in argument by handling the sword, it needs no other argument for its falsification. The sword it wields cuts its own throat before reaching others.”

Sadly, apostasy and other “crimes” like blasphemy are punishable offences in some Muslim-majority countries today, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, etc. In these countries, apostasy and blasphemy are not only leveled against non-Muslims but even people the country deems to be the wrong type of Muslims.

The good news, however, is that though certain regimes apply extremist penal codes under the guise of Islam, the majority of Muslims recognize that Islam condemns religious compulsion. For example, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community — Muslims who believe in that Messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian — has advocated this position for over a century. In this continuing war of ideas, true success is through peace and logic — never violence.

Any attempt to compel Pastor Nadarkhani to recant his Christian faith is barbaric and against the teachings of the Quran. The government leaders in Iran who have sentenced Pastor Nadarkhani to death, do so of their own accord. Quran and Prophet Muhammad, however, are clear — Pastor Nadarkhani must be set free.

About this ad ‘Bomb Iran’ Billboard’s Real Message Just the Opposite

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , on March 8, 2012 by loonwatch

About this ad ‘Bomb Iran’ billboard’s real message just the opposite

By Steve Fidel, Deseret News

WEST VALLEY CITY — A billboard along I-215 that says “Bomb Iran!” is meant to suggest just the opposite at a time when tensions between Iran and the West continue to escalate.

Iran halted oil exports to Britian and France on Feb. 19 in the latest move that follows economic sanctions against Iran over the nature of Iran’s nuclear capabilities and support of Islamic extremist groups.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report Friday that Iran has ramped up production of higher-grade enriched uranium in recent months.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement Saturday that the report “constitutes additional proof that Israel’s assessments are correct” and that Tehran’s nuclear program is moving ahead unhindered.

“The war drums are beating very loudly,” said bombiran.org organizer Connor Boyack, a 30-year-old Web designer in Lehi, who hopes the somewhat-confusing design of his billboard prompts people who see it to “pause, think about it, ponder it and go read about it.”

Boyack is not suggesting a single, grand conspiracy is pushing the United States toward a war in Iran but believes the combined effects of propagandists and a diverse military-industrial complex could be. He said his objective is to push back.

“It’s hard to see the unintended consequences,” he said, pointing to the speed at which reports about Iraq’s nuclear capabilities led to war before those threats were fully vetted, and later found to be without merit.

“Let’s look at the past and apply those lessons to the future. Let’s slow down and look at this a little,” Boyack said.

He also hopes to unhitch the connection between “supporting the troops” and engaging in war. “We want to support the troops by keeping them home with their families,” he said.

The billboard went up Thursday, and Boyack said traffic to the accompanying bombiran.org webiste has been brisk since then. He said the initiative’s Utah roots have the financial support of about 50 financial contributors so far, many of whom are outside the state.

If financial support continues, Boyack said he and other supporters hope to put up similar billboards elsewhere, targeting primary-election states.

Contributing: The Associated Press

E-mail: sfidel@desnews.com

Original post: ‘Bomb Iran’ billboard’s real message just the opposite

Israeli Officials: Starve Iranians to Stop Nukes

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2012 by loonwatch

Where’s the humanity in saying you want to “starve” a whole group of people?

(H/T: Saladin)

Israeli officials: Starve Iranians to stop nukes

by Attila Somfalvi (YNetNews)

Iran’s citizens should be starved in order to curb Tehran’s nuclear program, officials in Jerusalem said Wednesday ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming trip to Washington.

“North Korea is halting its nuclear program in order to receive aid in food, and this is what should be done with Iran as well,” one unnamed official said.

“Suffocating sanctions could lead to a grave economic situation in Iran and to a shortage of food,” the source said. “This would force the regime to consider whether the nuclear adventure is worthwhile, while the Persian people have nothing to eat and may rise up as was the case in Syria, Tunisia and other Arab states.”

“The Western world led by the United States must implement stifling sanctions at this time already, rather than wait or hesitate,” the official said. “In order to suffocate Iran economically and diplomatically and lead the regime there to a hopeless situation, this must be done now, without delay.”

‘Iran has hidden capabilities’

Earlier Wednesday, North Korea said that it has agreed to suspend uranium enrichment and adopt a moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests.

US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Wednesday the North has also agreed to allow International Atomic Energy inspectors to verify and monitor the moratorium on uranium enrichment and confirm disablement of its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon.

On Tuesday, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said the Islamic Republic has yet to reveal all of its military capabilities, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has many hidden capabilities which are kept for rainy days,” Vahidi said, adding, “We have not yet revealed all our capabilities.”

Addressing Israeli strike threats, the Iranian minister said Washington objects to statements on an Iran strike as the US is aware of Iran’s power and realizes that anyone who becomes embroiled in a conflict with Tehran will be defeated.

Belen Fernandez: In search of the ‘Islamic menace’ in Bolivia

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 29, 2012 by loonwatch

Anti-Iranian and anti-Islam propaganda is being pushed in South America:

In search of the ‘Islamic menace’ in Bolivia

by Belen Fernandez (AlJazeera English)

La Paz, Bolivia – Were I transcribing the wet dream of US Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen – self-appointed bulwark against the alleged Islamo-Bolivarian threat to homeland security – I might describe my arrival to La Paz two weeks ago as follows:

Descending from the city of El Alto into the Bolivian capital, my bus was stopped by a battalion of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. 

All passengers were required to pledge simultaneous allegiance to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Adolf Hitler, and Evo Morales. Once the Iranians had verified that there were no Jewish businesspeople on board available for kidnapping, the vehicle was allowed to pass.

Our progress was once again interrupted, however, by a parade of Iranian diplomats, whose infestation of Bolivia began when the Islamic Republic made the alarming decision to open embassies in Latin America – something no other country in the world has done. Augmenting the infestation are the more than two dozen Iranian diplomatic offspring who have reportedly been enrolled in the international school in La Paz.

I finally checked into a hostel in the city centre and turned on the television to find that the only available channel was HispanTV, Iran’s new Spanish-language extremist propaganda disseminator.

I turned off the TV, sat back, and waited for the bomb to explode.

The possibility of a bomb in La Paz was raised in December 2011 by Ros-Lehtinen, co-star of a non-factual documentary entitled “La amenaza iraní” (“The Iranian Threat”), in which she insinuates that the US should attack Iran in order to avert bomb explosions in various Latin American capitals. The film was released by Univision, the prominent US broadcast network, which is owned by someone who hosts galas in honour of the Israeli military.

The Iranians meanwhile acquired a new rival in the realm of multilingual extremist propaganda dissemination earlier this month when – as Charles Davis has wryly noted – the Spanish-language Univision re-released its film in English.

Quds Force in disguise

When, after several days in La Paz, Iranian penetration into the Western hemisphere was still not glaringly apparent, I set out for the epicentre of penetrating operations: the embassy of Iran, said to be guarded by the elite Quds Force.

Unable to find the address on the internet, I walked to the office of the Shia Bolivian Islamic Cultural Foundation on Landaeta Street. It was closed for Carnival, however, and I had to extricate myself from the grasp of missionaries in an adjacent office belonging to another entity to which Latin America has shown itself increasingly penetrable: the nutrition and weight-management cult Herbalife.

In the end, I found the embassy thanks to a meeting with a former Bolivian official, during which he happened to mention Evo Morales’ hypocritical authorisation of GMOs in Bolivia after having disapproved of Iranian GMO projects. I took advantage of the opportunity to enquire after the coordinates of Tehran’s mother ship in La Paz; he directed me to the website of the Bolivian Foreign Ministry, which did indeed contain an address – albeit an incorrect one.

My visit to the embassy, located in a house with a yard, revealed that the Quds Force had succeeded in disguising itself as a single Bolivian policeman.

The Bolivian receptionist meanwhile informed me that she was not authorised to divulge the address of the Iranian Red Crescent Society Hospital in the neighbouring city of El Alto, where it was rumoured that female employees wereforced to wear the hijab.

A Shia state within a state

I returned to the Bolivian Islamic Cultural Foundation, which was now open. There, a Bolivian convert to Islam, who introduced himself as both “Sergio Grover” and “Grover Musa”, told me how his dream of travelling to Iran on a religious scholarship had been thwarted by none other than the Univision documentary. According to Grover, there had been a moratorium on such scholarships, following the collaboration with Univision by former Mexican scholar-spies.

theory put forth several years ago by Ely Karmon of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya, Israel, according to which Shia ideology might resonate among impoverished sectors of Latin American society, seemed to find confirmation in Grover’s contention that poor inhabitants of El Alto were responsive to the foundation’s discourse.

Though the community currently consists of only approximately 50 members, Grover reckoned that, once membership swells to 3,000, the community might pose a challenge to the modus operandi of the state. For example, he explained, Muslim Bolivian policemen would exhibit superior conscientiousness than regular Bolivian policemen – whose recent achievements include repressing a protest of disabled people.

As for the Iranian hospital, Grover claimed that the hijab had only been required for the inauguration ceremony in 2009, and added that there was a substantial discount for Muslim patients – a slightly subtler approach to conquest, perhaps, than others historically employed on the American continent, such as decimating indigenous populations via infectious disease.

The hijab hospital

The next day, I took the bus to El Alto and found the hospital, a mere several streets away from where Grover had said it was. There were no hijabs in sight.

The hospital’s CEO and general manager, both Iranian, agreed to speak with me after being initially unimpressed that I had failed to bring any form of identification. Over tea and then lunch, they reviewed the institution’s numerous amenities and other contributions to global health by the Iranian Red Crescent Society.

The men claimed that the hospital employees, who were all Bolivian aside from two of them and their wives, were entirely free to pursue their own religious and political beliefs, provided they did not drink alcohol at work. They added that the obligation of the Red Crescent Society was to treat all kinds of people, including enemies of Ahmadinejad.

The general manager declared: “Our concern is lessening the pains of human beings.”

Terror breeding-ground

Less benign motives behind Iranian healthcare initiatives in Latin America were detected in a 2009 Jerusalem Postarticle entitled “The ‘other’ America: A perfect terror breeding-ground”, in which the author invokes the post-World War II flight to Bolivia by various Nazis as evidence that “[d]isenfranchised and marginalised regions are prime targets for fundamentalists and fanatics of all kinds”.

He also curiously mentions Bolivian “dictatorships aided by high-ranking Nazi officials” but manages not to specify that the Nazi official in question is presumably Klaus Barbie – war criminal, torturer extraordinaire, and former head of the Gestapo office in Lyons – whose escape to Bolivia was facilitated by none other than the non-”other” America, ie the United States.

In Bolivia Barbie’s talents were put to use in coordinating events like the so-called “cocaine coup” of 1980, which installed the murderous narco-military regime of Luis Garcia Meza Tejada.

Contemporary peddlers of the notion of a Latin America-based Iranian threat, however, prefer to excise such facts from history – as well as the fact that it was not Iranian-backed overthrows of governments in places like Panamaand, more recently, Honduras that intensified said countries’ respective roles in the international drug trade. Instead, we learn from these experts that the geographic proximity of West Africa to Venezuela facilitates Islamic drug trafficking.

As for Ros-Lehtinen’s logic – according to which bombs on Iran will deter bombs in La Paz – it has yet to be explained why Iran would suddenly bomb its own alleged satellite, especially when the ostensible aim of Iranian penetration of Latin America is to threaten the US, not Bolivia.

At any rate, in the event that Ros-Lehtinen wants to have a little fun and exploit the coincidence that la paz means “peace” in Spanish, she could always convert her illogic into the following catchy war slogan: “Let’s destroy peace before Iran does”.

Belen Fernandez is the author of The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work, released by Verso in November 2011. She is an editor at PULSE Media, and her articles have appeared in the London Review of Books blog, CounterPunch, Guernica Magazine, and many other publications.

Follow her on Twitter: @MariaBelen_Fdez