US must wake up to Iran’s terrorist threat
The US Department of Justice last week announced criminal indictments against a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The unlawful activities he was charged with stem from an attempt to assassinate John Bolton, who served as national security adviser under President Donald Trump. Bolton was also a high-ranking official in the George W. Bush administration.
The accused Iranian was following instructions he had received from the Iranian government in Tehran. There were also a few others who were his accomplices. Strangely, the Biden administration has not indicated how it will respond to this serious act of criminality, which threatened the national security of the US.
The official statement released by the Justice Department affirmed that the plot to kill Bolton was likely masterminded as a retaliation for the death of Iran’s chief terrorist, Qassem Soleimani, who was assassinated in January 2020. So far, the US government has not expressed any intention to retaliate against Iran for attempting to spread its terrorism to American soil.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said: “Should Iran attack any of our citizens, to include those who continue to serve the United States or those who formerly served, Iran will face severe consequences.” However, he did not elaborate on what “consequences” Tehran might face for its planned act of terrorism against America.
In addition, many people both inside and outside America are convinced that the Justice Department knows more about the attempt to assassinate Bolton but is withholding information about the plot. Moreover, there could be more than one Iranian plan to do harm to America. This invites an important question: Does the US government have more information about Iran’s terror than it has announced publicly?
In the wake of the Justice Department’s announcement, Bolton said of Iran’s leaders: “It is not just a window into how they behave with their terrorist activities and sponsorship of terrorist groups, but how they conduct their foreign policy altogether.” In addition, Bolton said on CNN: “This is not a regime that can be trusted to meet its commitments or obligations. It is a regime that sees the United States as an enemy and acts that way.”
So far, Washington has not expressed any intention to retaliate against Tehran for attempting to spread its terrorism to American soil.
The political scene that the Biden administration has created in Washington is one of self-contradictions. While the White House officially condemns the terror of Iran, it is still negotiating with the regime to reach an agreement over its nuclear program. President Joe Biden is making serious political miscalculations. He still indicates that the negotiations with Iran will be successful and will force it to moderate its criminal activities at home and drive the ayatollahs toward a more constructive foreign policy. Neither of these two false wishes will materialize.
A mood of confusion dominates Washington. Gabriel Noronha, who served in the Trump administration, last week wrote an article for the conservative publication The Washington Examiner claiming that Secretary of State Antony Blinken had this month approved sanctions waivers allowing several companies to engage with Iran’s civilian nuclear industry. Congress apparently knows nothing about this.
Iran’s attempt to kill Bolton should spur the president to collect more intelligence information about Iran. Moreover, the Obama-era approach to Iran must change. President Barack Obama treated Iran’s terrorism not as a strategic issue but as a law enforcement problem. This is totally wrong because Iran has a plan to take its terrorism to every part of the world.
In 1993, President Bill Clinton ordered strikes against Iraq after a plot to assassinate former President George H.W. Bush was revealed. For sure, this will not happen today.
No analyst knows how long the current administration will go on appeasing Iran. But as the president hesitates on forcing Iran to quit its terror, Tehran is wearing away America’s standing in the world. The world cannot tolerate Iran’s vicious and violent schemes any longer. It is time to punish Iran.
• Maria Maalouf is a Lebanese journalist, broadcaster, publisher and writer. She has a master’s degree in political sociology from the University of Lyon.