- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 1, 2001

Twenty-two years to the day after the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by a mob controlled by disciples of Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran's so-called "moderate" president, Mohammad Khatami, comes to New York, seeking favors from the Bush administration.
USA Today's Barbara Slavin gave us a glimpse of Mr. Khatami's agenda when she reported last week on a lunch for his United Nations representative that was hosted on Capitol Hill by Sen. Arlen Specter.
At that lunch, Ambassador Hadi Nejad-Hosseinian renewed Iran's long-standing call for the United States to lift trade and economic sanctions on Iran, in exchange for just what, he never made clear. Iran has made no pledge to improve its behavior, by turning over international terrorists Imad Mugniyeh and Ahmad Mughassil, both of whom have murdered Americans and now figure on America's Most Wanted list. Both have taken refuge in Iran.
Nor did Mr. Nejad-Hosseinian pledge to reopen reformist newspapers, to stop arbitrary arrests and the use of torture against Iranian women and dissidents, or even more simply to allow young Iranian men and women the freedom to mix on the streets or on university campuses.
Mr. Nejad-Hosseinian made no pledge that Iran would abandon its nuclear weapons program, its long-range missile programs, which are now aimed at U.S. troops in the region as well as at Israel, or that Iran would allow international inspectors to monitor its biological weapons laboratories, which the CIA reports are capable of producing military-grade anthrax.
But Mr. Nejad-Hosseinian and Mr. Khatami are asking the United States to lift a trade embargo placed on the Islamic Republic in 1995 because the Commerce Department had demonstrated its inability to prevent strategic items from being sold by U.S. companies to the Iranian military and to strategic weapons plants. Lifting the trade embargo would clearly enhance Iran's military capabilities.
Recent U.S. intelligence reports estimate that Iran has spent between $12-15 billion over the past decade building an array of nuclear weapons, ballistic missile, chemical and biological weapons plants, many of them underground. These reports also present a list of targets for U.S. military planners should the Iranian regime refuse the simplest of demands from the United States in our war against terrorism: Hand over the terrorists who have killed our people.
Mr. Khatami is coming to New York on Nov. 4 for the United Nations summit that will actually convene one week later. He chose that date for its symbolic value: It was exactly 22 years ago that pro-Khomeini students, many of whom went on to assume leadership positions in the Islamic Republic, seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and began a 20-year romp of terror under the false flag of Islam. Many of these same "students" still hold leadership positions in the Islamic Republic.
Iran has not "moved beyond" the 1979 embassy takeover. If anything, the Iranian government of Mr. Khatami has mainstreamed the hostage-takers. Mr. Khatami himself has played a central role in forging Iran into the prime supporter of international terrorist movements. In 1983, when he was minister of culture and Islamic guidance, Mr. Khatami presided over a meeting in Tehran that formally established the ties binding the Iranian government to the newly-created Hezbollah movement in Lebanon.
Islamic Republic lobbyists in America will argue that Iran has severed its ties to international terrorist organizations. If that is so, why does Tehran still convene annual terrorist conclaves that bring together the heads of the most notorious terrorist groups in the world? And why do Mr. Khatami and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei regularly applaud and address these terror summits?
If the Islamic Republic has changed its spots, then it should hand over the most notorious terrorists now residing in Iran, Imad Mugniyeh and Ahmad Mughassil. Mughassil has been indicted in the United States as the mastermind of the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing that killed 19 U.S. servicemen in Saudi Arabia. Imad Mugniyeh, also under a U.S. indictment, is the author of countless acts of terror, starting with the bombing of the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Marines barracks in Lebanon in 1983, the taking of U.S. hostages in Lebanon, and the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 to Beirut, when he murdered in cold blood U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem. Mr. Stethem's parents, who have attended regular memorial services for their son over the past 15 years, appeared in a Washington courtroom last week seeking reparations from the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Today, Mugniyeh serves as a top international terror operative for Iran's foreign intelligence service, SAVAMA. He is also believed by European intelligence agencies to serve as a liaison for Iran with the terror networks of Osama bin Laden. Just 10 days ago, European intelligence officials told me during a recent trip, Mugniyeh was meeting in Mashad, near the border with Afghanistan, with another senior Iranian intelligence officer and an Iraqi named Haboosh, identified as "a top deputy to Saddam Hussein in charge of intelligence matters."
Mashad has been the preferred port of entry to Afghanistan for Egyptian Islamic Jihad members seeking to join bin Laden for terror training and operational orders, these sources say.
The United States has been reluctant to point toward Iran in the war against terror, but the U.S. and European intelligence communities have extensive information showing the active involvement of Mr. Khatami's government in ongoing anti-U.S. terror operations. If Mr. Khatami wants any favors from the United States, he needs to hand over the terrorists on Iranian soil or go home.

Kenneth R. Timmerman publishes the Iran Brief, a monthly investigative newsletter, and writes on security and intelligence issues for Reader's Digest.

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