Mecca, Asharq Al-Awsat – Political analysts continue to debate the alleged Iranian-backed assassination plot that targeted Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the US, Adel al-Jubeir. This complex plot, which has been described by some as “Hollywood-esque”, including outlandish features such as the participation of a Mexican drug-cartel, has been, and continues to be, the subject of fierce discussion, over whether this was officially sanctioned by the Iranian government – as has been alleged by some – or whether it was the result of “rogue” operatives, or even whether it is all part of a conspiracy theory to frame Tehran.
However this plot has brought the issue of Iran’s connections to terrorism into the spotlight once more. Known Al Qaeda figures, such as Saif al-Adel and Sulaiman Abu Ghaith are believed to be hiding out in Iran, indeed Iran has been described by some observers as a veritable “safe haven” for terrorists. Tehran appears to have no qualms in allying with terrorist groups so long as this serves its strategic interests, even if this results in major bloodshed.
Saudi Arabia in particular has found itself subject to numerous Iranian-linked terrorist plots over the past years. In 1989, a number of Saudi Embassy employees were killed or seriously injured during a series of attacks at the Kingdom’s mission in Turkey, Belgium, and Lebanon. Pro-Iranian groups active in Beirut at the time claimed responsible for these attacks. Three Saudi diplomats and another embassy employee were also murdered in Bangkok in 1989 and 1990. The authorities later accused pro-Iranian group Jund al-Haqq - Arabic for “soldiers of justice” – of being responsible for this. Thailand’s Interior Ministry at the time claimed that these killings were to avenge the deaths of Iranian pilgrims in a 1987 clash with Saudi police in the Islamic holy city of Mecca that killed about 400 people.
Therefore the link between Iran and terrorism, and indeed Iran and terrorist plots against Saudi Arabian targets, is clear. This led one Saudi analyst to say that the link between Iran and terrorism is as overt as the link between Iran and “Persian carpets.”
Commenting on this link, Dr. Abdullah al-Beraidi, Professor of Management and Organizational Behavior at Qassim University in Saudi Arabia told Asharq Al-Awsat that “Iran is controlled by a collective extremist religious mentality.” He added that “the [alleged] Iranian plot to target the Saudi ambassador to the US requires us to analyze the Iranian behavior in the [post-revolutionary] era of the mullahs within a political – cultural framework.”
The Saudi Arabian professor stressed that “whether we seek to analyze this specifically within the framework of this [alleged] Iranian plot [to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington] or as part of Iranian behavior in this regard in general, we can clearly see that this behavior is subject to a collective mentality based on two beliefs, namely an extremist Shiite ideology, and a hardline ultra-nationalist belief.” Professor al-Beraidi claimed that these two beliefs combined to give Iran an “ultra-nationalist superiority complex” which Iran’s mullahs have used to “underpin the foundations of their autocratic and theocratic state.”
Professor al-Beraidi also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the world has witnessed a wave of brutal crimes targeting innocents in countries like Iran – in the past – and Syria – today – called for by [Iran’s] mullahs.” He stressed that Iran’s mullahs have hijacked the fate of Iran and involved it in illegal operations, utilizing Tehran’s vast wealth and their own religious positions, in order to “deceive” ordinary people across the Arab and Islamic world.
Dr. al-Beraidi also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “we previously warned that Iran was intensifying its interference in the affairs of foreign [Arab] states, and this was due to Iran’s mullahs believing that the Arab world was ripe – in their view – for such intervention and interference and for regional maps to be re-drawn according to their desires.” The Saudi academic claimed that it was this belief that the time was ripe for Iran to extend its regional influence that led Tehran to undertake certain precipitous actions and operations.
The Qassim University professor stressed that this Iranian behavior had two “bitter” consequences. Firstly, this had an internal consequence within Iranian society, namely a lack of internal [economic and social] development, resulting in “widespread poverty and unemployment.” As for the second consequence, Dr. al-Beraidi said that this could be seen in “Iran’s policy of interference and intervention which goes against [diplomatic] customs and traditions, not to mention international conventions.”
Al-Beraidi warned against the danger of the Arab Shiite community being “deceived” by Iran, and called on “our Shiite brothers everywhere to not pay any attention to the ultra-nationalist and racist Persian Shiite mullahs.” He called on the Arab Shiite community “not to support or even be silent regarding Iran’s extremist approach.”
Professor al-Beraidi told Asharq Al-Awsat that “whatever the motives in the eyes of some, we should not base our beliefs or evaluate people or ideas solely upon sectarian dimensions.”
He also stressed that “Iran is completely unprepared to put forward any civilized programs, and its rhetoric to some Arab states – and others – is clearly insincere, and this can be seen in the racist and ultra-nationalist manner that is deals with all issues.”
However Dr. al-Beraidi did take pains to clarify that his remarks in this regard where not against the people of Iran, stressing that he respects Iran’s history and culture, but rather against the “ultra-nationalist Persian ideology and government.”