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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Essay on Iran's Position on the 2001 Terror Attack

On September 11, 2001, several individuals who believed they espoused a noble cause attacked the United States territory.  What seemed to be an ordinary day for every United States citizen turned out to be a nightmare as terrorists executed their well coordinated plan.  First, they hijacked a passenger jet, the American Airlines Flight 11 and made it crash into the north tower of the World Trade Center.  Several minutes later, another airliner, United Airlines flight 175 was hijacked and was carefully maneuvered to crash into the second tower of the World Trade Center.  Barely several minutes after these two unfortunate events, another plane identified as the American Airlines Flight 77, crashed into Pentagon. 

The terrorist attacks on the American soil were an awakening not only for the United States government but also for the whole world.  It made all of us aware that not even a superpower nation like the United States can be spared from a determined, organized and well-funded terror group.  Indeed, in this modern world, we are all likely targets for terrorist attacks. 

The United States quickly realized that it had to reevaluate the policies for dealing with terrorism. Thus, several days and weeks after the unfortunate event, the Bush Administration in response to the terrorist attacks and in their desire to bring the perpetrators to justice proposed certain measures aimed at protecting our country's national security and at the same time reducing the risk of future attacks.  This led to the enactment of the United States Patriot Act which was initially signed into law last October 26, 2006. 

The United States' reevaluation efforts included the determination of which of the nations in the world are its allies and which are its enemies.  One of these countries is Iran.  In an effort to find the culprits of the attack the United States had been gathering intelligence reports and information of Iran's possible involvement in terrorism.  There are intelligence reports that say that Iran may have had advance knowledge of the 9/11 attack and that it is also very likely that it had a role in 9-11 bombing of World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  ("Iran, September 11 and the CIA" 2)  

Historically, speaking, there had been no diplomatic ties between the United States and Iran ever since the November 4, 1979 event when a mob of young Islamic Revolutionaries overran the United States Embassy in Tehran. ("People & Events: The Iranian Hostage Crisis, November 1979 - January 1981" 1)  These Islamic Revolutionaries held 60 Americans hostage for 444 days. Since then the relationship between these two countries had turned sour.     

One reason why the United States government pointed to Iran as possible culprit for the 9/11 attack is that United States officials alleged that they have evidence that will prove that Iran had, in the past, previous connections with the Al Qaeda group.  Referring to terrorist attacks that happened even before 9/11, high raking United States officials said that, Iran " 'supplied the explosives for the 1998 Al Qaeda bombings of the United States Embassies in Africa that killed more than 200 persons."  (Kenneth R. Timmerman 3) 
The second reason is that the United States government alleged that it has concrete evidence that the government of Iran had operational connection with the 9/11 hijackers.   Hamid Reza Zakeri, a former Iranian Intelligence Officer, testified in a courtroom in Germany against Abdelghan Mzoudi to prove that he saw the latter in Iran at the time when they were still at the planning stage of the 9/11 attack.  According to Zakeri, he had personal knowledge that another 9/11 hijacker met with Zakeri's former superior officers a the Ministry of Information and Security (MOIS), which is Iran's intelligence service.  (Timmerman 4) 

Zakeri, as the former intelligence officer in Iran, also claimed to have witnessed and personally handled the security preparations in several meetings between top Al Qaeda operatives and officials that were held in Iran several months before the 9/11 attack. 
The third reason is that an independent commission tasked to investigate who are responsible for the 9/11 attack has concluded that Iran has had a history of granting permission to Al Qaeda members to pass through its country going to the Afghan border.  ("Bush: U.S. probes possible Iran links to 9/11")  In connection with the 9/11 attack, the independent commission found that 8 out of 10 of the hijackers entered Iran between October 2000 and February 2001. 

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Based on the pieces of evidence gathered by the independent commission, there are pieces of evidence that will prove that high ranking Iranian officials issued instructions to the border guards not to place stamps in the passports of Al Qaeda personnel so as to make it difficult for any U.S. intelligence agencies to trace the movement of Al Qaeda members.  Also the independent commission found that the border guards were also instructed not to harass the Al Qaeda members when they pass through Iran going to Afghanistan. 

This is confirmed by John McLaughlin, then CIA Acting Director, who said that they had ample evidence that will prove that the people responsible for the terrorist attack and the other Al Qaeda members had been going back and forth to Iran before and after the 9-11 attack. 

The fourth reason is that for several years before the incident, Iran had been suspected of continuously developing its nuclear weapons.  Iran, however, has turned a deaf ear to the calls by the United Nations to stop its development of nuclear weapons.  
In view of these reasons, the United States had suspected Iran of having participations in the 9-11 attack against the United States.  George W. Bush said that he will continue to look for the possible involvement of the Iranians.  He also branded Iran as part of the 'axis of evil' along with Saddam Hussein of Iraq and the North Korea. (William Lowther 1)

Iran's position on this controversy
Iran, on the other hand, has vehemently denied the allegations that it had knowledge and participation in the 9/11 terrorist attack.  Iranian officials had claimed that it was unaware that Osama Bin Ladin's group was planning an attack against the United States.  They also defended their country against the accusations that they supported terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda. 

Firstly, Iranian officials dismissed the allegations against Iran. They considered this as part of election propaganda to ensure the success of some politicians.  They strongly argued that though it may be possible for some of the Al Qaeda hijackers to have crossed the territory of Iran before the 9/11 attack, the United States officials do not have any solid evidence that Iran had knowledge of the plan to actually attack the United States.  The use by the terrorists of Iran as point of entry and exit should not be taken to mean as actual participation in the terrorist attack.  The statements made by United States officials are mere conjectures which are without any evidence. 

In response to the allegations against the Iranian government, the former president of
Iran, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, said that assuming that the Al Qaeda hijackers did enter Iran, why are they the only country that is being singled out.  He presumed that it is also possible that these people may have passed through other countries on their way to United States. None of these countries however are being implicated in the terrorist attack.  

Secondly, the Foreign Ministry spokesman of Iran, Hamid Reza Asefi, also defended his country against the allegations that it has connections with Al Qaeda.  He stated that it would not be possible for the United States to find any connection between Iran and the Al Qaeda because of serious ideological differences between them.  They do not espouse the same political views.  In fact, to prove that it would not be possible for Iran to cooperate with Al Qaeda, Iran had for so many years been fighting against Al Qaeda and the Taliban forces in Afghanistan. 

Thirdly, the Foreign Ministry spokesman urged the United States officials to cease blaming them for the 9/11 attack.  According to Asefi, it should stop blaming other countries for the terrorist activities of the Al Qaeda and even the Taliban instead, they should consider themselves as responsible for what happened to their own country.  Asefi pointed out that the United States is now being haunted by its own ghost as it was the one who created the Al Qaeda and the Taliban. He also added that it was the United States who provided ammunitions and arms to the Al Qaeda and the Taliban presumably for the purpose of monitoring and weakening the Islamic Republic of Iran. Now that the Al Qaeda forces have strengthened and increased in number, it can not point its finger to any nation who was not responsible for its creation in the first place.      

Fourthly, Iranian officials said that the United States government is barking at the wrong tree.  It is clear that the United States government miserably failed to protect and provide security for its own people.  On the other hand, there is sufficient evidence to prove that even before the 9-11 event, U.S. intelligence officers had received information of possible plans by Al Qaeda to attack the United States territory. Former president Rafsanjani even boldly claimed that it had in the past issued warning the United States government that it is possible that the Al Qaeda may launch this kind of attack in the future.  Their concerns were however ignored by the United States government. 
Also, in an attempt to settle the past differences between the two nations, Iran President Ahmadinejad offered to visit the "Ground zero" in Manhattan.  (Shlomo Shamir 1)  The Iranian president wanted to extend his hand to the United States to prove that it had no participation in the 9/11 attack.  He intended to lay a wreath in the site of the worst attack in United States history but the New York Police Department denied him his request.  

The relation between Iran and the United States was not always sour.  There was a time when both nations were in good terms.  Certain events however in the past have triggered the severance of diplomatic ties between them.   All is not lost however.  I believe it is possible for the diplomatic ties beween these two countries to be restored.  This will happen only if they will be able to reach a middle ground. 

I have shown that though United States is still suffering from the tragedy, we should cease being emotional about the situation.  The proactive thing to do in this kind of situation is to be objective.  We should not allow our minds to be misled.  It is also possible that this issue was used only to promote the personal agenda of some politicians.  The people should also be objective when reading the newspapers.  It is always possible that the newspapers we read are not giving us an accurate report of the event. It is advised that the readers should not quickly make judgments about certain issues unless they have a comprehensive knowledge of the issue.  Further, I think we should not brand all Arabs as terrorists and that all Arab countries are harboring terrorists.  

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