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They Want to Kill Ahmadinejad
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 27, 2008


There have been two assassination attempts on the life of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the past several weeks. The first attempt was made while the Iranian leader was on an official visit to Iraq, the second attempt was planned for last week, in Italy.

In making these threats public the government of Iran has added the name Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to a long and dubiously distinguished list of world leaders who have been openly targeted for assassination.

Today, every world leader no matter how popular or how reviled must consider every threat a serious threat. Assassinations and terrorist attacks are a part of today's political culture. A leader represents a political party, a social agenda and a country. Today's leaders wander through many sets of cross hairs by virtue of position - personality hardly enters into the assassin/terrorist agenda and master plan.

There have been seventeen known attempts to kill a sitting United States president. Four, Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley and John F. Kennedy, Jr. succeeded. Presidents Zachary Taylor and Warren Harding died while in office and rumors and several books suggest that both presidents were poisoned. Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated, by an Israeli citizen, in Israel. Mohandas Ghandi, Father of the Nation of India as he was affectionately called by most of his country, was killed on January 30, 1948. Assassinations and attempted assassinations are not relegated to the domain of autocratic, dictatorial governments. Democracies are by no means immune from assassination attempts.

Assassinations have altered history. The successful attack on the life of Ferdinand, Archduke of the Austria, sparked World War I. And the assassination of Lebanese President Rafik Hariri is still setting off sparks in the Middle East.

There are many attempts that never make it to the history books. In the United States there are numerous threats that never make it outside the offices of the Secret Service. There are plots that are just that plots and hundreds of those are investigated each year. All it takes is one successful attempt - and when it comes to the assassination of a world leader, one is too many.

If the Secret Service is kept busy thwarting attempted attacks on the life of the president, imagine how busy the army and secret police are in a religious police state like Iran. In Iran, thousands of people are arrested for the crime of having ideas contrary to the ruling religious leadership. In Iran today, there are numerous groups and countless individuals who want to do away with Ahmadinejad.

The Iranians blame the United States for the two plots on the life of Ahmadinejad. Specifically, the Iranian government blames President George Bush. They rationalize the accusation by pointing out that on several occasions the US president has said that the conflict the United States has with Iran is not with the people of Iran, it is with the leadership of Iran. In Iran-think, the leap is obvious. Iranian leadership interprets this diplomatic statement as a direct threat and credits the US president with sponsoring coups as well as assassinations.

The Iranians would do better analyzing the data rather than fabricating an unreal scenario if they truly wish to protect their leader. Both plots would have Ahmadinejad assassinated outside his own country, in Iraq and Italy, respectively. That is important. It is not to say that the assassins, or intended assassins, were not Iranians - it is to say that if caught, the assassins would be outside the jurisdiction and control of the brutal Iranian police force. The plotters were looking for more freedom and more safety. Local governments are less concerned about the plot against foreign, visiting dignitaries and have less intelligence about the plotters.

The odds are there really are people out there trying to assassinate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But those people are not the CIA or any United Sates agency. There is a significant Iranian expatriate community who see Ahmadinejad as a tyrant. There are a significant number of Middle East Arabs who see him as one the most explosive and problematic leaders in the region. These groups fly way under the radar in Italy and especially in Iraq, but they are on Iran's radar. They are probably the same groups trying to sponsor political opposition to Ahmadinejad, at home, in Iran.

Ahmadinejad, like almost every other world leader today, is on someone's hit list. A news flash, planning an assassination is a lot easier than executing the plan.

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4 June 2017 12:14 PM in Columns

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