If the Iranian government doesn’t frighten you, you haven’t been paying attention. The regime in Iran has been killing Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan for many years and has sworn countless times in the past 30 years to preside over the destruction of the United States. But for a lucky break, Washington, D.C., this autumn would have been the scene of a massive explosion at a high-end restaurant, with scores and perhaps hundreds killed and maimed. The principal target of this terror attack was to be the Saudi ambassador to the United States, but as one of the plotters told another during the planning: “They want that guy [the Ambassador] done [killed], if the hundred go with him f**k ’em.” The FBI suggests that several U.S. senators are also known to frequent the restaurant.
This carnage was only one of several violent attacks Iran was planning to perpetrate on American soil. It seems safe to say that President Obama’s outreach to the mullahs is not going well.
Some press reports have stressed the enmity between Iran and Saudi Arabia in attempting to explain this flagrant outrage. The U.S. Attorney involved in the case, Preet Bharara, also stressed that angle, saying, “Today’s charges should make crystal clear that we will not let other countries use our soil as their battleground.” But that misses a key point. This was an attack on the U.S. as well.
There are Saudi interests all over the globe. It’s not an accident that they chose to strike in Washington, D.C. For the terrorists in Tehran, killing a Saudi ambassador in America’s capital city would be a blow against two hated enemies at once. The murders would have happened under the noses of the Great Satan, thus conveying Iran’s contempt for everything we hold dear — the sanctity of life, the rule of law, international norms regarding diplomacy, and even the Geneva Conventions (which forbid deliberate attacks on civilians). The criminals who run Iran have a particular fondness for gestures of contempt. Recall that in 1981, they chose to release our diplomats just as Ronald Reagan was taking the oath of office — one last parting slap at Jimmy Carter.
The details of the thwarted attack read like a bad espionage novel. Mansour Arbabsiar, a naturalized American who was born in Iran, served as the middleman in a murder-for-hire plot. Directed by the Quds Force, an arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Arbabsiar approached a Mexican drug gang and offered them $1.5 million to carry out the attack in Washington. Arbabsiar did not know that his Mexican interlocutor was actually an American informant.
And so the plot unraveled. Arbabsiar was arrested on September 29 at Kennedy airport, and has made a full confession. He has admitted that he was recruited, funded, and directed by men he believed to be senior officials in Iran’s Quds Force.
This is the same Quds Force that created or supports Hezbollah, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Mahdi army in Iraq. It is the same Quds Force that is currently helping the regime of Bashar al-Assad to brutally suppress the people of Syria who are demanding freedom. It is the same Quds Force that is arming and supplying the Taliban in Afghanistan, and providing $3 million a month to militias in Iraq.
Quds has a worldwide presence, including an active directorate in Venezuela, and in the tri-border region of South America (where Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina meet), in the Magreb, in sub-Saharan Africa, and throughout the Middle East. It cooperates with al-Qaeda, and has been involved in countless acts of terror against Americans including the murder of CIA officer William Buckley, the murder of Navy diver Robert Stethem, the killing of 241 Marines in Lebanon, and the bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, which killed 19 servicemen.
Quds is the beating heart of the Iranian regime, and that regime is barreling toward a nuclear weapon. Stopping it ought to be, but is not, the top foreign-policy priority of the Obama administration. In fact, the administration has been slow walking even the sanctions it has reluctantly imposed.
Many on the left protest that we fought an ill-conceived war in Iraq because of unfounded fears of WMDs. Maybe. But remember the follies of the last century. During World War I, the Allies believed a great many lies about German atrocities. During World War II, the Allies disbelieved a great many truths about German atrocities. A pendulum is a poor weathervane.
— Mona Charen is a nationally syndicated columnist. © 2011 Creators Syndicate, Inc.