by Zafar Bangash (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 46, No. 5, Shawwal, 1438)
The June 7 terrorist attacks in Tehran in which 17 people were killed and more than 50 injured have been traced directly to Saudi Arabia. Mohammed bin Salman, the ill-mannered son of the demented Saudi King Salman, is personally responsible for these crimes. It is time to charge him and put him on trial for war crimes.
True, it would be unrealistic to expect the International Criminal Court in the Hague to issue an arrest warrant for Bin Salman. What needs to be done is to capture him either in the Kingdom, or perhaps during one of his visits abroad. A credible legal case can be made against him for war crimes.
The list of Bin Salman’s crimes is long and well established. On May 2, in an interview with two Saudi-owned and funded TV stations, al-Arabiya and al-Ekhbariya, Bin Salman said, “We will not wait until the battle is in Saudi Arabia, but we will work so the battle is there in Iran.” Does one need any further proof of Bin Salman’s culpability? On June 8, while visiting Germany, journalists asked Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir whether he condemned the terrorist attacks in Tehran. He refused to do so tersely dismissing the journalist by saying, “next question.” These clearly point to the fact that the Saudis not only support terrorism but that they were behind the terrorist attacks in Tehran.
As Defence Minister of the medieval kingdom, Bin Salman is also responsible for the murder of more than 12,000 innocent civilians in Yemen and the starvation of millions of children in the impoverished country. Saudi warplanes have bombed hospitals, factories, homes, and schools. Since Bin Salman is responsible for formulating the medieval kingdom’s policy, he is the principal criminal in this enterprise. Even the UN has said that war crimes have been committed in Yemen.
His other role has been in keeping the war on Syria raging. The takfiri terrorists incubate in Saudi Arabia before being unleashed in other lands — Syria, Iraq, Yemen, etc. And now, he has unleashed these murderous thugs on Iran as well. While the terrorist group, Da‘ish, claimed responsibility for the June 7 twin attacks in Tehran, their ideological underpinning came directly from Saudi Arabia, more precisely Wahhabism.
Authorities in the Islamic Republic were quick to trace the “affiliated nuclei” of the five terrorists. It also released their names on June 8, although only the first names saying their last names were being withheld due to “certain social and security considerations.” This was a clear reference to not causing any harm to their families who might be affected as a consequence of people becoming angry and seeking vengeance. This is in keeping with the best Islamic tradition: only those guilty of the crime must be punished, not their relatives. This stands in sharp contrast with what happens in the West. If a person with a Muslim name perpetrates a terrorist act anywhere in the world, immediately all Muslims residing in the West are blamed as if they are personally responsible for the crime.
Iran’s Intelligence Ministry revealed that the five individuals had a history of past terrorist activities and were linked to Wahhabi and takfiri groups. They had left Iran after being recruited by the Da‘ish terrorist group and had participated in the group’s atrocities in the Iraqi city of Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqah.
They had entered Iran in July–August 2016 under the command of “Abu Ayesha” — a high-ranking commander of the terrorist group — and planned to carry out terror attacks in religious cities in Iran, but “had fled the country following the obliteration of the network and blows [dealt] to the cause’s main elements, including the killing of Abu Ayesha,” according to information released by the Intelligence Ministry.
Iran’s Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi, however, said that in recent days and months, “we have witnessed heavy pressure from terrorists, to the extent that we have been identifying and arresting two-member and three-member teams or single individuals every week.” In fact, on the day of the Tehran attack, one terrorist team was intercepted and captured; the other managed to slip away to carry out its dastardly crime.
While there was condemnation of the terrorist attacks in Tehran from all over the world, US President Donald Trump sank to a new low when he tried to point the finger at Iran itself. “We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote,” he claimed. Using this logic, the terrorist attacks in Manchester and London (UK) must be blamed on the British government. Similarly, the US must take full responsibility for the 9/11 attacks.
Trump may in fact have a point although his mental capacity would preclude him from understanding this. The Washington regime had prior warnings of the 9/11 attacks and took no steps to prevent them. Similarly, British counterterrorism officials had been notified of the terrorists’ threats to carry out acts of terror, not once but on multiple occasions, yet they took no steps to apprehend the perpetrators.
In the case of the Tehran terrorist attacks, the Islamic Republic has been the victim of such crimes for decades. It is virtually the only country in the world that is seriously fighting the scourge of terrorism without giving any allowance to terrorist groups.
So appalled were officials in the Islamic Republic at Trump’s comments that even the generally polite Foreign Minister of Iran, Dr. Javad Zarif was forced to issue a statement calling Trump’s comments “repugnant.” The Iranian Foreign Minister tweeted on June 9, “Repugnant WH [White House] statement & Senate sanctions as Iranians counter terror backed by US clients. Iranian people reject such US claims of friendship.”
Bin Salman’s actions are also linked to Trump’s visit to the medieval kingdom in May where arms deals worth hundreds of billion of dollars were signed. The Saudis have assumed that since he has the green light from Trump, he can run amok in the region. Before Bin Salman erupted on the scene in 2015, it was assumed that Bandar bin Sultan, the former long-time Saudi ambassador to Washington was the nastiest creature of the Najdi clan. Bandar had earned the nickname “Bandar Bush” because of his close connections with the House of Bush. Bin Salman has surpassed Bandar in nastiness.
Events, however, have a habit of catching up with culprits. It is unrealistic to assume there will be no blowback for his actions. Bin Salman has riled up so many people both inside and outside the Kingdom that it cannot be ruled out that somebody may even kill him. Few would shed any tears for this mass murderer. On the contrary, there will be a collective sigh of relief at his exit from this dunya.
In the meantime, it is imperative that urgent steps be taken to apprehend this war criminal to prevent him from causing more innocent deaths in the world.