United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

Marine Commander Links 1983 Bomb and 2011 Plot

The following is an excerpt from testimony by Col. Timothy J. Geraghty, USMC (retired) on Oct. 26 before the Joint Subcommittee Hearing: Iranian Terror Operations on American Soil. Geraghty was commander of the Marine peacekeepers in Lebanon.

             October 23, 2011 marked the twenty-eighth anniversary of the beginning of an asymmetrical war waged by radical Islamists against the United States and its allies. It was on that day in 1983 during the Lebanese civil war that coordinated suicide truck bombings in Beirut killed 241 American peacekeepers under my command, as well as 58 French peacekeepers. These atrocities lead to the withdrawal of the Multinational Force from Lebanon and to major changes in U.S. national policy. Since then, radical Islamism has evolved into the major national security threat to Western civilization.

            Perhaps the most significant development that grew out of the Beirut peacekeeping mission was the ascent of Iran into becoming a major player, not only in the region but also globally…Some of the key leaders who are implementing the Iranian mullahs’ aggressive policies are worth closer scrutiny. Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar, a veteran commander of the 150,000-man IRGC, was named minister of defense in August 2005. In 1983, he was commander of the IRGC contingent in Lebanon and was directly responsible for the Beirut truck bombings.

            [President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad’s fiercely disputed reelection in 2009 also reveals another connection with IRGC in Lebanon. His selection as the new minister of defense, Gen. Ahmad Vahidi, also participated in the 1983 Beirut bombings and later succeeded Najjar as commander of the IRGC contingent. He founded the elite Quds Force of the IRGC, serving as its first commander. He currently is on Interpol’s most wanted list, the Red Notices, for the bombings in Buenos Aires of the Israeli Embassy in 1992 killing twenty-nine and the Jewish Community Cultural Center in 1994 killing eighty-six. Vahidi was linked by the European Union to Iran’s nuclear activities and its development of nuclear weapons delivery systems while overseeing the research and development of WMDs. Vahidi’s assignment and background lays out a bloody roadmap of Iranian intentions. It also provides a deeper understanding as to why Iran has retained the dubious distinction for over a quarter century of being the world’s leading state-sponsor of terrorism…

           The recent Iranian-backed plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States involved a key Quds Force commander linked to the killings of U.S. troops in Iraq. This should come as no surprise. Abdul Reza Shahlai led a group of the Quds Force, within the Iraqi militia of cleric Moqtada al Sadr, dressed as U.S. and Iraqi soldiers, in an assault in Karbala which killed five Americans. According to a U.S. Treasury report, he supplied Sadr’s group with weapons. Shahlai is the cousin of the arrested co-conspirator Manssor Arabsiar, an Iranian American living in Texas. The bizarre plot involved using Mexican drug traffickers to bomb a restaurant in Washington, DC which the Ambassador frequented. The uniqueness of the plot provides some insight to the nature of the asymmetrical threat we face.
 

For the full testimony click here.

 

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