Hear Iran’s threats

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Marco Castro/UN)

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Marco Castro/UN)

WASHINGTON (JTA) – When Muslim terrorists stormed the B’nai B’rith International headquarters on
March 9, 1977, the notion of a terror attack on U.S. soil was a still unfamiliar
concept. As we look back on that time, it’s enlightening to
note that Iran helped end this volatile hostage situation involving Jews.
On that day 30 years ago, hiding behind rifles and machetes, a dozen
Hanafi Muslim terrorists held hostage more than 139 people at the then-B’nai
B’rith International headquarters on Rhode Island Avenue, the District Building
and the Islamic Center. The group said it was avenging the murders of seven
members of a Hanafi leader’s family four years earlier at the hands of a rival
Muslim group. Ambassadors from Iran, Egypt and Pakistan read to the
gunman passages from the Koran that they said demonstrated Islam’s compassion
and mercy. They urged the gunmen to surrender. These ambassadors relied on their
religious faith for compassion and tolerance. This secular, pre-revolutionary
Iran was a friend to the United States and, to a lesser extent,
Israel. [photo dan1 align=left ]The terrorists surrendered 39 hours after they began their
attack. One person was killed, two others were shot, dozens were injured and
all were terrorized. Fast forwarding 30 years, what a different
landscape we have today with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who issues
repeated threats to Jewish people around the world. Ahmadinejad and his
fanatical cohorts rely on religion to justify intolerance and hate.
Ahmadinejad fills the airwaves with his statements about wiping Israel
off the map, his sponsorship of a global contest of cartoons that mock Jews and
the Holocaust, and his recent Holocaust denial conference in Tehran. All are
frightening enough. But when combined with Iran’s rush to develop
nuclear weapons in defiance of the international community, there exists
concrete evidence as to the magnitude of the threat posed by Iran’s leader and
his regime.Ahmadinejad’s commitment to continuing a nuclear enrichment program
demands that the world take notice. A new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency has found Iran in violation of a resolution meant to curb its
nuclear powers. The world, through the United Nations, must use this report
to broaden sanctions against Iran. The thought of Ahmadinejad leading a
nuclear Iran is chilling. Today’s Iranian government uses the Koran to spread
hate, posing a universal threat to peace. A nuclear Iran jeopardizes the fate of
Israel, the entire Middle East and the world. To see the evolution of
the Iranian threat, we need only look to Argentina. An Argentine court recently
found Iran responsible for the attack on the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1994. A new report confirms what has long been suspected:
Iran was behind the bombing in the heart of the largest Jewish community in
Latin America that killed 85 and wounded hundreds. Those held
hostage in three locations in Washington 30 years ago had nothing to do with the
demands of the Hanafi Muslims. The victims of the AMIA bombings also were innocent bystanders, as are the victims of Islamic extremism today. These
events, and so many more, have as their genesis blind hatred and
ignorance. Increasingly, extreme tactics provide a platform to spread
the terrorists’ message to the masses. Iran is sending a message now. As a past
target of terrorism, B’nai B’rith International is in a unique position to
implore the world to listen.(Daniel S. Mariaschin is executive vice president of B’nai B’rith International.)

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