June 25 marks the 25th anniversary of the 1996 bombing of a housing complex in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, by Iranian-backed terrorists. Nineteen American airmen were killed and 372 American personnel were injured. Many of those who survived, some of whom worked with me in the State Department, lived the rest of their lives with permanent injuries, brain trauma, and tortured memories.
The anniversary of the bombing should serve as a stark reminder that the Iranian regime will investigate vulnerabilities and punish America if we are not strong, and that the costs to America of Iranian malicious activity can be enormous. . We should never forget that day and we should never appease the Iranian terrorist leaders.
The Middle East has changed a lot since 1996. Israel has been recognized by many Muslim-majority states under the Abrahamic Accords. But the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran remains as determined to commit acts of terrorism today as it was a quarter of a century ago.
Iran’s responsibility for Khobar is unquestionable. In a 2001 federal indictment against members of Saudi Hezbollah involved in the attack, the justice ministry found that “elements of the Iranian government inspired, supported and supervised members of Saudi Hezbollah”. In 2006, in a lawsuit filed by the families of 17 victims of the bombing, a federal judge ruled that Iran was responsible for the bombing: “All of the evidence at trial. . . Firmly establishes that the Khobar Towers bombing was planned, funded and sponsored by senior government officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Last year, another federal judge ordered Iran to pay nearly $ 900 million to the victims and their families for its guilt.
Orchestrating the death and mutilation of Americans is a day in the office for the mullahs who run the Islamic Republic. Since taking power by force in 1979, the regime has consistently targeted US military personnel across the Middle East. In 1983, Iran worked with one of the first incarnations of Hezbollah to kill 241 US servicemen by bombing their barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. In this attack, the bombing of the Khobar towers and others, Iran enlisted terrorist groups to do its dirty work. The Iranian Quds Force, the wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps tasked with propagating the Islamic Revolution through military engagement, used this strategy to good effect during the Iraq war. Iran has helped kill more than 600 American soldiers during this conflict through terrorist groups like Kataib Hezbollah. These cowardly associations allow the Iranian regime to deny its role in the terrorist attacks – denials that only the most gullible can believe.
Foolishly, the Obama administration tried to get Iran to behave right by accepting the nuclear deal in 2015. At the heart of this misguided diplomacy was the idea that Western engagement and trade with Iran would turn an outlaw regime into a constructive actor in the Middle East. Is. Instead, Iran has used the economic windfall of the removal of sanctions to increase funding for Shiite proxy militias in the region, many of them on the orders of Quds Force chief Qasem Soleimani. . He was actively planning new attacks on American soldiers and diplomats in the Middle East when the Trump administration pulled him from the battlefield in January 2020.
Now, the Biden administration is on the verge of restoring power to the world’s leading terrorist sponsoring state. The president is rushing to repeal sanctions and join the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a deal that would give Ayatollahs greater capacity to underwrite terrorist attacks like the Khobar Towers bombing and the recent Hamas rockets that are said to have claimed the lives of countless Israelis. the Iron Dome interception system did not perform nearly perfectly. President Biden has learned nothing from Tehran’s behavior over the past 40 years.
Nothing will change under new Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who won a rigged election and is a close ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. I was proud to help impose sanctions on him in 2019 for grotesque human rights violations.
The Trump administration was not fooled by the nature of the Iranian regime, nor by how the nuclear deal exposed Americans to greater harm. So we withdrew and imposed over 1,000 sanctions against Iranian entities. We have restored military deterrence against Iran. We have supported Israeli security more than any other US administration in history, both bilaterally and through the Abrahamic Accords. Our actions have reduced the operational and financial capacity for terrorism of groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon and various Shiite militias in Iraq.
We have faced Iranian aggression. Mr. Biden encourages him.
The Khobar Towers bombing caused immense grief to American families who saw the lives of their husbands, fathers, brothers and sons cut short in the name of the Iranian Islamic revolution. Mr Biden and his team risk a repeat of this type of bloodshed if they fail to recognize that joining the deal will help Tehran’s decades-long campaign kill Americans.
Mr. Pompeo is a distinguished member of the Hudson Institute. He was Secretary of State in 2018-21.
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