SHIITE ISLAM AND SHIITE TERRORISM
What is Shiite Islam? Shiite Muslims go back to the early days of Islam. Islam exists primarily in two main divisions, Suni and Shiite. Mohammed did not appoint a successor and a great dispute arose over who would lead them next. Ali, the son-in-law of Mohammed, wanted to succeed Mohammed but the community, instead, chose a man named Abu Bakr. Abu then became the first caliph (leader). In time, Ali would become the fourth caliph. Disputes over Mohammed’s successor eventually led to the largest rift in Islam, the rift between the Sunnis and the Shiites. Ali’s rise to power was full of controversy. Some believe that he was involved in the murder of the previous successor, Othman. However, there is not solid evidence to confirm this. Nevertheless, there was great unrest and division concerning his leadership and civil war broke out. In 656, Ali defeated his enemies in a battle know as the Battle of the Camel and again at the Battle of Siffin, one year later. However, in this second battle Ali’s opponent appealed for arbitration and Ali agreed. As a result, many of Ali’s followers despised him for not completely obliterating his enemies. His support eroded away and he was assassinated in 661. Following this, leadership was given to Ali’s son, Husayn. Husayn and his men were quickly ambushed and killed. To this day, Shiites support Ali and Husayn as successors of Mohammed and they reject the legitimacy of the first three caliphs. During the reign of the caliphs, Islam would spread through military campaigns. Damascus was conquered in 635, Iraq in 636, Jerusalem in 638 and, in 641, Egypt surrendered. In 642, Persia fell under Islamic rule. Islamic rule organized itself more and more and evolved into a political empire known as the Ottoman Empire. For centuries the Ottoman Empire struck terror in the hearts of Europeans who could barely hold it at bay at the borders of their countries.
While rising to great heights, in time the Ottoman Empire began to unravel. As the Ottoman Empire was collapsing, the presence of European powers, especially England, was felt throughout the region as these areas were largely brought under British rule. Where were Shiite Muslims during that time. They were throughout their Ottoman Empire. However, there was a large concentration of them in Persia. Great tensions arose between the traditional Muslim population and modern Persian leaders who were attempting to modernize Persia. Leaders, such as Muzaffar, enacted democratic reforms which gave more control to the people and limited the power of the Shahs. Reforms were proposed which would grant equal rights to non-Muslim citizens, such as Christians. However, such a proposals infuriated large numbers of Muslims who were benefiting from their preferential status. A parliament was formed. In 1925, a new leader, Shah Reza, came to power and quickly began implementing a policy of westernization. He required that judges obtain a law degree from secular universities rather than from Islamic authorities. He also cut substantial revenue away from Muslim mullahs. The loss of financial support to the mullahs meant a greater equalization among all religions instead of promoting only Islam. Such reforms greatly angered large numbers of Persians. Reza Shah changed the name of Persia to Iran in 1935. In 1941, Reza resigned and his son, Mohammed Reza, took his place. He would be followed by Muhammed Mossedeq. Shah Mossedeq worked very hard to remove British influence from Iran. He was successful in pushing out Britain's Anglo-Iranian oil companies. However, Iranians were soon in a situation of crisis, not having the necessary skills and training to run the oil industry themselves. In response to this crisis, Mossedeq requested help from the United States and relations with the United States were strengthened. Sentiment against the United States was very strong among many Iranians and the country seemed to be a pressure cooker of tensions.
One man who represented the sentiments of traditional Iranian Muslims was Ruhollah Khomeini. A devout Muslim, and even a descendant of Mohammed himself, Khomeini dreamed of a forced Islamic state. He opposed the Shah's efforts of reform. The Shah had purchased portions of land from wealthy owners and resold it to peasants at affordable rates. This upset some of the financial power base of the Muslim Sharia clergy. The Shah also tried to reform society through health care and by allowing women the right to vote. Khomeini opposed these reforms as being un-Islamic. As tensions rose, Khomeini was even arrested and, in 1964, was ordered into exile. From Turkey and France, Khomeini was very active. His sermons were brought back into Iran and distributed.
Khomeini was successful in inciting Iranians to strike and this paralyzed the economy. In 1979, the Shah was forced to leave the country. Mayhem resulted. Mob violence swept the streets and vigilantes raided police stations and even military bases. On February 1, 1979, Khomeini returned to Iran and declared; “This parliament and government are illegal. If they continue, we will arrest them. I will shut their mouths. And I will appoint a government with the support of the Iranian people.” 1 B Elections were held and 90% of the vote went to elect a religious Islamic government. Khomeini wasted no time in creating an Islamic state with Islamic laws. Along with this came a wave of persecution upon the Christian Church. A number of Christian leaders were found having been shot or having had their throats slashed.
Khomeini and Iran faced a major challenge when they were attacked by Saddam Hussein. Hussein received military support from the United States and western powers. Countless Iranians died between 1980 and 1988 in years of war between Iran and Iraq. In this war, a new form of martyr arose. They were known as the Basiji. The Basiji were teenage boys who were recruited and sent to run across the war zone and detonate land mines as they ran. It was a suicide mission that they were on. The Basiji popularized suicidal jihad. Iran's battle with Iraq drained its resources significantly and, in 1988, Khomeini accepted the United Nations ceasefire resolution to end the war.
Khomeini decided to launch a new Islamic world order. He and his clerics wrote into their constitution; “All Muslims shall be considered as one single nation and the Islamic Republic of Iran shall make its general policy on the basis of coalition and unity of all Muslim people and shall constantly make every endeavor to realize the political, economic and cultural unity of the world of Islam.” 2 Khomeini has also said; “This movement is for the sake of Islam and cannot be limited to one country only. It cannot be limited solely to Islamic countries either.” 3 These quotes together show Khomeini's determination for Iran to gain political, cultural and economic control of both Muslim lands and non-Islamic countries. These endeavors greatly threaten human rights and freedoms wherever they are implemented. Khomeini's rule led to a tremendous persecution of Christians in Iran.
Two important military arms of the Iranian government arose under Khomeini. The Revolutionary Council was a group of Muslim mullahs who were split off and became the Revolutionary Guard Corps. They are considered to be an elite military unit. The second military arm is Hezbollah. This is a terrorist organization based primarily in Lebanon but trained and organized by Iran's Revolutionary Guard. In 1985, Hezbollah published in a manifesto that listed its goal of “Israel's final departure from Lebanon as a prelude to its final obliteration.” 4 Hezbollah leaders repeatedly called for the destruction of the state of Israel and for the spread of the rule of Islam. They have been successful in mobilizing demonstrations with hundreds of thousands of participants. They receive financial support, military training and weapons from Iran. It is estimated that Iran has been funding Hezbollah with between 60 – 100 million U.S. dollars per year. Others have estimated that this could be as high as 200 million dollars a year. With this kind of backing, Hezbollah has created a network that stretches across the Middle East and into the Americas. Hezbollah is very much entrenched in the communist country of Venezuela. Somewhere between 2005 to 2011, Iran and Venezuela have conducted over forty billion dollars in trade. 5 Branching out of Venezuela, Hezbollah has a network which stretches throughout South America, Central America and Mexico. Intelligence reports reveal that Hezbollah has been involved in crossing the very permeable border between Mexico and the United States. The extent of their network in the United States is not fully known.
Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has publicly stated in an address to Khomeini:
Our dear Iman (Khomeini) you stated that the arrogant powers of the world must be annihilated. Thanks for the continuality of your illuminating rule and thanks to God the countdown to America's sinister power has begun. 6
He also said of Islam; “It will conquer all the mountaintops of the world.” 7
The world community is very concerned about Iran's pursuit of nuclear technology. Atomic inspections in Vienna have confirmed that Iran is enriching uranium. This may be used for the development of nuclear weapons. It is not only of concern that in the coming years Iran may have inter-continental ballistic missiles, armed with nuclear warheads, but also that they may develop a suitcase-sized nuclear bomb which they could transport and plant by means of their well-established Hezbollah network. They have also tested firing scud missiles from a barge in the Caspian Sea. Many believe this is with the intention of firing missiles at America from barges off the American coast.
Presently, Iran continues to persecute Christian believers. Iran's former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, announced to thirty provincial governors; “I will stop Christianity in this country.” 8
Neither Ahmadinejad, Khomeini, the Revolutionary Guard or Hezbollah will ever bring Christianity to an end in Iran. However, they may continue to inflict terrible persecution on Iran's Christians, terrible terrorist attacks on neighbouring countries and, potentially, future nuclear strikes on western nations. The Iranian regime daily lives out its dream of Islamic jihad and is developing the technology to implement Islamic jihad on an unprecedentedly massive scale. Western nations have imposed economic sanctions upon Iran but the problem still exists and the regime's resolve hardens even more. All the while the Iranian government boasts of their dream of annihilating America.
Countries such as Canada, the United States, France, Australia, Israel and the Netherlands all classify Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. On the world scene this is controversial because many Shiite Muslims all over the world are sympathetic with the Iranian regime and Hezbollah. In an attempt to create peace many western powers signed a trade deal with Iran lifting the crippling sanctions off of her economy.
1.A. Mehdi Dibaj quoted in Riley K. Smith, Finding Hope in the Axis of Evil (Bartlesville, Ok: Living Sacrifice Book Co., 2009), 89.
B. Khomeini, quoted in Riley K. Smith, Finding Hope in the Axis of Evil (Bartlesville, Ok: Living Sacrifice Book Co., 2009), 70.
Iranium, Alex Traiman, Producer. Raskolnikov. Internet Video.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, quoted in Iranium.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, quoted in Riley K. Smith, Finding Hope in the Axis of Evil, 17.
Broad, J. William. “Inspectors Say Iran is Enriching Uranium at Mountain Site.”
New York Times, January 9, 2012.
Iranium, Alex Traiman, Producer. Raskolnikov. Internet Video.
Smith, Riley K. Finding Hope in the Axis of Evil. Bartlesville: Living Sacrifice Book Co., 2009.
Ankerberg, John and Dillon Burroughs. What’s the Big Deal About Other Religions. Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2008.
Braswell Jr. George W. What You Need to Know About Islam and Muslims. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000.
Wolff, Richard. The Popular Encyclopedia of World Religions. Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.