Iran TerrorismIran’s “suicide operations” chief vows to hit U.S. interests

Iran’s “suicide operations” chief vows to hit U.S. interests

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Iran Focus: Tehran, Iran, Aug. 23 – The commander of Iran’s “Lovers of Martyrdom Garrison” – who is a general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) – vowed that his suicide volunteers will destroy United States’ interests all over the world in retaliation to any attempt by the U.S. to hit Iran’s nuclear installations. Iran Focus

Tehran, Iran, Aug. 23 – The commander of Iran’s “Lovers of Martyrdom Garrison” – who is a general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) – vowed that his suicide volunteers will destroy United States’ interests all over the world in retaliation to any attempt by the U.S. to hit Iran’s nuclear installations.

Brigadier General Mohammad-Reza Jaafari made the comments at a gathering of thousands of volunteers for “martyrdom-seeking operations” from Arak, Natanz, Isfahan, and Bushehr, the four cities that are close to the principal sites of nuclear activities in Iran.

Jaafari’s comments will appear in tomorrow’s issue of the Persian-language weekly Parto-Sokhan. An electronic version of the journal was posted on the weekly’s website on Tuesday (Click here for link).

Although the journal does not specify Jaafari’s military rank, another Iranian website, run by associates of former President Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, has identified the commander as Sardar Mohammad-Reza Jaafari. Sardar, meaning Marshall in Persian, is the official title of general officers of the IRGC. Jaafari had said in an earlier interview with Parto-Sokhan weekly that he had met Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei several times.

“If America were to make a mistake and carry out an attack against the sacred state of the Islamic Republic of Iran, we will set fire to its interests all over the world and will not leave it with any escape route”, Jaafari was quoted as saying.

The ultra-Islamist general said, “Let the U.S. know that if it starts a war on our soil, a war of attrition against Washington will start immediately and we will destroy all its sensitive spots”.

Observers note that on Saturday, Ayatollah Khamenei ordered a key change in the high command of the IRGC, putting Brigadier General Mohammad-Ali Jaafari in charge of forming the IRGC Centre for Strategy.

Mohammad-Ali Jaafari (who is not believed to be related to Mohammad Reza Jaafari) was until now the commander of the IRGC Ground Forces and has been given the task of devising a new command structure and military strategy for the IRGC that would give the elite military force unlimited access to national resources and absolute priority over the regular army in case of a foreign military confrontation. In a previous interview, Mohammad-Ali Jaafari said that this strategy would be based on “asymmetric warfare” and mentioned suicide operations as a key element of the strategy.

Observers note that while the recent emphasis on suicide operations in hard-line Iranian newspapers might have a deterrent purpose, Iranian leaders have been impressed with the impact of suicide operations on coalition forces in Iraq.

“Iranian leaders are drawing their own lessons from Iraq”, said Simon Bailey of the London-based Gulf Intelligence Monitor. “They have incorporated the use of suicide operations into their national security strategy”.

Bailey noted that Ayatollah Khamenei told Lebanese Hezbollah leaders last month that “the U.S. has been defeated in Iraq and its plans for Iran and Lebanon have been pushed back for a long time”.

In his recent speech, the commander of Iran’s suicide units hinted that the theocratic state might also make use of long-term “sleeper cells” in the West for these operations.

“Those who are familiar with this form of warfare know that once the order for operations is given, it will be impossible to control or contain it, because the operational forces at in an irregular way and under their own command. Their operations may continue for years. So the American people must know that their own rulers will be responsible for the consequences of any rash action by [U.S. President George W.”> Bush”, General Jaafari said.

In an earlier interview with Parto-Sokhan, Jaafari announced that more than 50,000 individuals had been enlisted in the Iranian military garrison opened to recruit and train volunteers for “martyrdom-seeking operations”.

He added that several military divisions of the “Lovers of Martyrdom Garrison” had already been established in several of Iran’s provinces and others were presently being formed to “confront threats by America and Israel”.

According to the hard-line weekly, Jaafari told a recent meeting of suicide volunteers, “We have many martyrdom-seeking forces. Each of them is the equivalent of a nuclear bomb and they are not at all afraid of death”.

Parto-Sokhan is published in the Shiite holy city of Qom by the Imam Khomeini Educational and Research Institute. The institute’s chairman, ultra-conservative cleric Ayatollah Mohammad-Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, is regarded as the ideological mentor of Iran’s new hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Since Iran Focus revealed for the first time that it was running weekly adverts with an application form to enlist suicide volunteers, the hard-line weekly has come under strong domestic and international scrutiny. Applicants were simply requested to “submit two photographs of themselves, a copy of their identity cards, and the filled-in application form” to the stated address so that their training could begin.

In an interview with the Weekly on August 13, Jaafari defended the publication of the advertisement in the paper. “The publication of the advertisement for attracting martyrdom-seeking forces in the dear Parto-Sokhan was at the request of the Lovers of Martyrdom Garrison and in accordance with the [country’s”> existing rules and regulations was published in several issues of this paper”.

“In the same way, this advertisement was also published in other newspapers as well”, the IRGC Brigadier General added.

Last month, the weekly carried a report on a meeting between Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi and the commander of Lovers of Martyrdom Garrison. Jaafari was quoted by the weekly as saying that the organisation of “martyrdom-seeking popular forces” was being implemented on the basis of instructions from the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces [Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei”>.

“The Imam [Khomeini”> said years ago that Israel must be wiped off the face of the Earth, but so far practical steps have not been taken to achieve this”, the garrison commander said. “Our garrison must spot, recruit, organise and train martyrdom-seeking persons to be able to materialise this objective. Any delay in fulfilling the strategy of the Imam and the Supreme Leader in this regard will not be to the advantage of Islam or the revolution”.

“The United States should know that we have nuclear weapons, but they are in the hearts of our suicide bombers”, Jaafari added.

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