Iran is building its own online Islamic State in America
(August 17, 2022 / JNS) The stabbing of author Salman Rushdie by a Lebanese Shia Muslim from New Jersey may be the culmination of Iran’s efforts to emulate al-Qaeda and the Islamic State by creating its own online terror network to carry out attacks inside the United States. Latest reports indicate that Hadi Matar, Rushdie’s attacker, had been in contact with members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
The recent indictment of a member of the IRGC regime’s terror network for soliciting the assassination of former national security adviser John Bolton has provided a window into how Iran has targeted former members of the Trump administration.
The IRGC agent struck up a relationship with an Iranian-American on social media initially offering $10,000 for photos of Bolton. It is a familiar form of commercial espionage, in which a foreign spy solicits an American to perform a seemingly harmless and legal act, often involving photography, such as taking pictures of people or cars, which then turns out to be espionage on demand. of a foreign power. The patsy is then told that he has a choice between committing more serious crimes or being reported to the FBI as a spy.
The Russians and the Chinese regularly operated this way (which also helps explain the large number of Chinese spies in America, as their citizens coming to this country are forced to sign papers agreeing to cooperate with their intelligence services, which which becomes a source of leverage and blackmail), and it now appears that Iran has taken up the same trick.
The IRGC agent promised Iran would pay $250,000 for hitting Bolton with a car. Stating that the Iranians had already had their own surveillance operation which they did not want to compromise, the IRGC said Bolton often walked alone in the park.
Rushdie’s indictment and stabbing brought to light some mysterious incidents, including an Iranian woman from Berkeley who fished an American on a dating site, met him in a hotel room in Henderson , Nevada, then stabbed him in the neck as “revenge”. against American troops for the murder of Qassem Soleimani. The death of the IRGC terror leader has served as a pretext for various terrorist plots against military personnel and members of the Trump administration.
The media dismissed the March stabbing as bizarre behavior. Media accounts suggested the woman was mentally ill. But Henderson is close to Nellis Air Force Base, which hosts the MQ-9 Reaper: the same drone model that was used to take out Soleimani. The attack appeared to be a systematic effort to target a US Air Force drone pilot, lure him into a hotel room, blindfold him and then kill him. It was a terrorist plan that only looks ridiculous because it failed.
This is certainly not the first time that Iran has tried to pay for assassinations in the United States. A decade ago, IRGC operatives planned to kill the Saudi ambassador with a bomb at Cafe Milano, a prestigious DC restaurant frequented by senators, by employing an Iranian used-car salesman from Texas in an organized plot at meetings in Mexico.
A decade later, the Internet eliminates any need for international travel. Iranian terrorists can appeal to Shia Muslims in that country to carry out terrorist attacks for them without any risk.
At least at the IRGC.
The failure of Al-Qaeda’s post-9/11 terrorist plots amid the invasion of Afghanistan led the terrorist group to abandon its founding principle of serving as a “base” and outsource terrorism via the Internet. Myspace was created a few months before the invasion of Iraq. A year later, Facebook made its appearance. Terror 2.0 took longer to arrive than Web 2.0, but it was close.
The vast majority of al-Qaeda and ISIS terrorist attacks no longer required the costly and dangerous travel and training that had undone so many previous operations. Most crowdsourced terrorist attacks have failed when jihadists have contacted ISIS and al-Qaeda only to get in touch with the FBI, but a few, in Boston, San Bernardino, New York and Orlando, have had significant success. spectacular. The same crowdsourcing drive that made Uber and Airbnb billion-dollar companies also made jihad safe and cheap for terrorist organizations. The perpetrators have been dubbed “lone wolves” but are actually Uber jihad drivers.
Iran is slow to enter the game. Shiite Muslims are a minority and the IRGC has relied on subsidiary terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, the PMU in Iraq, or for that matter Sunni Islamists such as Al-Qaeda and Hamas, to do its dirty work. America, unlike Europe, still does not have extensive terrorist networks beyond those of Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood. And Hezbollah uses its networks as a money train for smuggling drugs and cigarettes. Lebanon’s Shiite jihadist network may be doing some of the surveillance, but it doesn’t want to threaten its cash flow from America, which is also buying it some independence from Iran.
Online crowdsourcing frees Iran from the need to risk the most profitable terrorist networks. There is evidence that the Islamic Terrorist State is soliciting Iranians and Shia Muslims in the United States on social media to do its dirty work while offering them vast sums of money. It’s unclear if Rushdie’s attack happened this way, but the perpetrator’s social media was filled with Iranian jihadist propaganda. This would have made him a likely recruitment target.
If Iran works to duplicate its own version of Al-Qaeda and ISIS’s online training and recruitment system, the threat to Americans could be far greater than the stabbing attack. a dissident writer in New York or a fished man in Nevada. The Islamic regime’s ideal scenario for nuclear weapons would be to detonate them with plausible deniability.
Iranian operatives carried out direct assassinations of political dissidents in Europe, but exercised caution before putting boots on the ground inside the United States. Despite our weakness and their bluster, Iran fears and respects us even more than Europe. As America weakens and our society fractures, this may not last. For now, Tehran would prefer to carry out attacks by cultivating available foreign assets. And once such a capability exists and has been sufficiently tested, it could be used for terrorist attacks with high casualties.
Even nuclear ones.
The Biden administration is rushing to strike a deal with Iran that will legitimize its nuclear weapons program even as the IRGC continues to plan terrorist attacks in the United States. Obama’s “revolutionary” proposal to detach a nuclear deal from terrorism left us negotiating in bad faith with a regime that made no secret of its determination to kill Americans.
Jihad crowdsourcing creates an additional distance between the states that sponsor and finance terrorism, the perpetrators and their victims. The Pulse massacre and the Boston Marathon bombings were attributable to individuals, then only remotely to Islamic terrorist groups providing information and training, and barely to the governments behind them.
Iran would love to replicate this pattern, knowing that America’s morale is much weaker than its military and intelligence capabilities, and that if there are enough plausible denials, we won’t do anything against even the worst kinds of people. attacks, such as September 11. Just ask Qatar. and the Saudis.
The gradual rise of Iran-linked domestic terrorism is a warning that Iran’s efforts to create its own group of Shiite “lone wolves” on the Internet could work. And the worst can happen.
Daniel Greenfield, Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer specializing in the radical left and Islamic terrorism.
This is a version of an article first published by FrontPage Magazine.