The Islamic Republic of Iran’s representative in Lebanon, Sayyed Issa Tabatabai, claimed in an interview that the despotic regime was involved in multiple terror attacks in the Middle East in the 1980s, including the 1983 Beirut truck bombing which killed 220 Marines in their barracks.
The audio recording was obtained by The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). It's unclear when it was made.
Tabatabai said he was authorized to carry out martyrdom operations:
According to the MEMRI translation of Tabatabai’s interview with the IRNA, Tabatabai said, "I quickly went to Lebanon and provided what was needed in order to [carry out] martyrdom operations in the place where the Americans and Israelis were." He added, "The efforts to establish [Hezbollah] started in [Lebanon's] Baalbek area, where members of [Iran's] Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) arrived. I had no part in establishing the [political] party [Hezbollah], but God made it possible for me to continue the military activity with the group that had cooperated with us prior to the [Islamic] Revolution's victory."
#ICYMI: In First-Ever Iranian Acknowledgment Of #Iran's Role In 1980s #Lebanon Bombings, #Khamenei's Representative In Lebanon States: 'I Received From Imam Khomeini The Fatwa [Ordering] Martyrdom Operations Against The Americans' – Audio of report https://t.co/Q2S1uLrs3Z #MEMRI pic.twitter.com/y2qbOpRL7U— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) October 1, 2023
The list of atrocities they allegedly carried out in the name of Jihad is lengthy:
Iran and its chief strategic ally, the U.S.-designated terrorist movement Hezbollah, in Lebanon have been blamed for bombing the U.S. Embassy in Beirut in 1983 in which 63 people, including 17 Americans, were murdered, and dual suicide truck bombers blew up the barracks of American and French members of a multinational force in Lebanon in 1983, in which 220 U.S. Marines, 18 U.S. Navy sailors and 3 U.S. Army soldiers lost their lives. Fifty-eight French troops were also murdered in the terrorist attack.
The state-controlled Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) quickly moved to suppress news of the interview when they found out about it:
The MEMRI report continued, "It is noteworthy that the part of the interview in which Tabatabai acknowledged receiving Khomeini's fatwa ordering attacks on American and Israeli targets in Lebanon was removed by IRNA from its website shortly after publication. This is apparently because no official representative of [Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomeini, the father of the Islamic Republic, or of Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader, had ever said that Iran had any involvement in ordering, planning and carrying out the massive bombings in Lebanon against U.S.," wrote MEMRI.
American officials have long suspected Iranian involvement in myriad terrorist acts across the world. Yet, somehow former President Obama thought it wise to enter into a nuclear deal with the country that our own State Department deems a “state sponsor of terrorism." Last month, meanwhile—on 9/11, unbelievably—President Biden released $6 billion in frozen Iranian money in order to secure the freedom of five prisoners.
Said Iran expert for the American Enterprise Institute Michael Rubin:
Americans have astonished both Iranians and the victims of Iranian terrorism with the diplomatic contortions undertaken to avoid holding Iran to account. Now that the supreme leader's representative has confessed, the questions are: (1) Will Americans who carried water for Iranian terrorism apologize? (2) Will Iran pay compensation to the victims of their terror? If [President] Biden prices five Americans at $6 billion, the U.S. should demand no less than $289.2 billion from Iran today.
Iran has always strenuously denied involvement in the bombings. It's unclear whether this apparent new admission by a top-level official will change the tenor of relations between the two countries.
Neither Biden nor Obama has a strong record of holding the Islamic Republic to account, though, so I wouldn't hold my breath expecting the president to do so now.