Originally published in the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center’s bulletin number 155.
Saturday, February 4, a number of conservative news websites in Iran published an article by blogger Ali-Reza Forghani. The article was first published on Forghani’s personal blog, and then republished on several news websites, including Alef, Asr-e Emrooz, and Raja News. It was also republished by Fars News Agency, which noted that the article does not necessarily reflect its views. The article was originally published (also on the Alef website) in Persian and English.
Ali-Reza Forghani, born 1983, is the owner of the blog alireza-forghani.blogfa.com, which expresses the views held by the radical right wing of the Iranian political system. He has a degree in computer engineering and strategic management, is a Basij member, and was an activist in the radical group Ansar-o Hezbollah when he was younger. He describes himself as a supporter of the principle of “rule of the religious jurisprudent” in its strict interpretation (where the religious jurisprudent enjoys complete authority).
Forghani began the article by discussing the rationale behind an attack on Israel from the point of view of Islamic religious law, based on interpretations of the term “jihad” in Islam and the thought of Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic revolution. According to Forghani, an attack on Israel falls under the definition of “defensive jihad”. According to a ruling issued by Khomeini, whenever the enemy attacks the countries of Islam, all Muslims must launch a defensive jihad with all their might even without the approval of the religious jurisprudent (vali-ye faqih), which is usually required when a jihad is waged during the Vanished Imam’s disappearance. Since Israel attacked and occupied Palestine, protecting Palestinian Muslims is a duty that does not require the approval of the religious jurisprudent. Regardless of the occupation of Palestine, it is perfectly clear that Israel wants to take over other Muslim countries to fulfill the vision of “from the Nile to the Euphrates”.
After the introduction, Forghani examined the military aspects of an Iranian attack on Israel. To attack Iran, Israel needs assistance, approval, and coordination with the West and the United States. In the current state of affairs, where the United States and the West remain passive, Iran has the ability to destroy Israel, the author claimed. Given the unique characteristics of the current Iranian regime under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency, and considering the Islamic awakening in the region, influenced by the Iranian regime, Iran has to attack Israel by 2014 and before the end of the current government term (in 2013).
The initial objective is to destroy strategic targets in Israel with long-range Sejjil missiles. The attack should focus on the residents of Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa, as well as power plants, sewage facilities, energy sources, airports, nuclear facilities (including the top-priority reactor in Dimona), and transportation and telecommunications infrastructure. Shihab-3 and Qadr missiles should then be used against urban population centers until all Israelis are eliminated. Forghani suggested hitting Israeli Air Force bases (whose names were mentioned based on reports in the overt media) and vessels (the author suggested hitting vessels and submarines with missiles, Iranian special forces operating worldwide, and underwater mines). He went on to detail Iran’s ground-to-ground capabilities and the types of missiles it has available, and speculated that Iran can destroy Israel in less than nine minutes.
The article was written by a private individual and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Iranian leadership. However, its wide circulation in media affiliated with the conservative camp may be an indication that the growing discourse in Israel and the West about a possible military attack on Iran is having an increasing effect. It could also signify the beginning of a public and media discourse in Iran about the need for a preemptive attack against Israel or against Western targets.
The article drew numerous reactions from Iranian internet users on the websites where it was published. A few web users on the Alef website expressed support for the opinion of the author and said that Israel is a warmongering country seeking to take over the region and is a “cancerous tumor” in the heart of the Muslim commonwealth, which therefore should be fought in order to purge the region of “oppression, imperialism, and heresy”. A number of web users argued that Israel’s military abilities are not as impressive as they are often said to be, proof of which is the second Lebanon war and the campaign in Gaza.
Most web users, however, had reservations about the content of the article and even criticized the editors of Alef for deciding to publish it. Some of them argued that the article overestimates Iran’s abilities and ignores the likely response of Israel’s allies, mainly the United States, in case it is attacked by Iran. Despite Iran’s military progress, it is incapable of destroying Israel, a web user wrote.
Another web user argued that Iran’s economic, social, and political situation makes it impossible for it to start a war, and that the Iranian people, already under severe economic pressure, do not need the additional problem of American and Israeli missiles in response to a military attack on Israel. This web user, and several others, said that it would be better to invest in improving the quality of life in Iran and developing the country instead of focusing on a possible attack on Israel.
A number of web users criticized the author of the article and wondered why he did not suggest attacking Russia or China when those countries attacked Muslims in Chechnya and western China.
The author’s call to destroy the people of Israel drew particularly strong criticism. Many web users said that the proposal is immoral, and that the website should not have published an article which calls for genocide. Iran has no problem with the Jews but only with the leaders of the “Zionist regime”, one of the web users said. Even Israel does not call for the elimination of the Iranian people, and calling for the elimination of Israelis is completely unjustified. Another web user claimed that the article serves Israel, which can now claim that Iran no longer simply calls for the destruction of Israel but also seeks to eliminate the Jewish people.
Read also this report by MEMRI.