By Boris Volkhonsky
Last week, Manhattan federal court ruled that Iranian officials had aided and abetted the hijackers who flew jetliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.
The lawsuit was filed in May 2011 by lawyers representing the families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks against Iran, the Iranian-backed Hezbollah organization in Lebanon, the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The lawsuit accused the defendants, including Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, of providing help to the attackers.
Since the defendants were not represented in the lawsuit, the judge pronounced a default judgment in favor of the plaintiffs.
The story, ridiculous in itself, still raises a number of considerations. First of all, Al Qaeda, which is regarded as the main sponsor and principal of the 9/11 attacks, is a radical Sunni organization feeling as much hatred towards Shiite Iran as it feels towards the U.S. More so, Iran has been the target of terrorists from Al Qaeda and other radical Sunni groups for years. Therefore, a liaison between Iranian leadership and terrorists from Al Qaeda seems unnatural at the least.
Second. None of the 19 terrorists who committed the 9/11 attacks was in any way related to Iran. 15 of them were Saudi nationals, two came from UAE, one from Egypt and one from Lebanon. Still, no one puts a blame on those countries (most notably, on Saudi Arabia which is the main strategic ally of the U.S. in the Middle East) and the court case links them with Iran which is the main strategic rival of Saudi Arabia in the region.
More so, before coming to the USA, most of the 19 terrorists had been stationed in Germany. Why not file a suit against that country?
It is true that one of the reasons for selecting Iran as the target for the lawsuit might lie in the fact that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad never believed in Al Qaeda’s involvement in the attacks and blamed them on the U.S. authorities. Such an accusation might be groundless, but no more groundless than the accusations against Iran. At least throughout the Muslim World there is a strong belief that the attacks were planned by American authorities, and in certain countries this point of view is prevalent. Now imagine that the families of those victims, who were of Middle Eastern origin, filed a lawsuit in an Iranian or Pakistani court against CIA or another U.S. security agency. How would the U.S. react? Probably, it would ignore such a case. Then the court in Tehran or Islamabad would be free to pronounce a default judgment, the way it happened last week in Manhattan.
In general, the whole relationship between the U.S. and Iran resembles the relationship between the wolf and the lamb in Jean de La Fontaine’s table. It does not really matter whether Iran is building nuclear weapons or not, whether it threatens its neighbors and regional security, whether it sponsors terrorists or is targeted by them. The U.S. motto is one of the wolf. “I was told that I must take revenge”.
So, the case heard in Manhattan is just another step in escalating the tension and putting more pressure on Iran and those countries that are not ready to blindly follow the U.S. course towards an eventual collision. Building an unnatural connection between Al Qaeda and Ayatollah Khamanei may seem as a win-win step for U.S. war-mongers. Like no one questions whether there really IS a thing called Al Qaeda anywhere beyond the American strategists’ imagination, putting Iran’s spiritual leader’s (who in any case is not very popular in the West) name close to it would further tarnish his image in the eyes of the civilized consumers of American propaganda.
And if, for some reason, this does not work, there is always a number of further options – like accusing Iran of crucifying Jesus Christ and pronouncing a default judgment, since none of the defendants would turn up in the courtroom.