by Reza Kahlili
Should any of the Iranians taken hostage by rebels in Syria be harmed, America should expect Iran’s intelligence agents to respond in kind, the Islamic regime has warned.
Forty-eight Iranians were seized Saturday in Damascus by rebels seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime. Iran claims they are pilgrims, but Abdel Nasser Shemir, a rebel commander, in an interview with the news organization Al Arabiya, charged they were members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards whose confiscated documents proved as much.
“They are 48, in addition to an Afghani interpreter,” Shemir said, alleging that the captives were members of a 150-strong group sent by Iran for “reconnaissance on the ground.”
Iran quickly blamed America, Saudi Arabia and Qatar for the kidnapping.
Hours after the abduction, Ali Larijani, the speaker of the Iranian Parliament, said that, “America and certain countries of the region are responsible for these crimes, and they will receive the appropriate response at the right time.”
A media outlet called “The Youth Reporter’s Club,” which is run by the Revolutionary Guards intelligence unit, also blamed America for the abduction, stating that America, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are involved in the events in Syria and that Iran is ready to “change the proxy war into a direct confrontation on an immediate basis.”
The statement warned America that should any of the abducted Iranians be harmed, Iran will harm America and Americans.
Another statement that appeared on the site IranNuc.ir, which reflects the opinion of the regime, declared that Iran holds America directly responsible for the abductions. That message was given to the Swiss ambassador in Iran, who acts on behalf of America’s interest because the two countries have no diplomatic relations. The statement warned that, although America has not reacted to the claim, Iran is ready to immediately attack America.
This warning would mean that Iranian terror cells, along with the terrorist organization Hezbollah, could attack America’s interests and take Americans hostage. Such a terrorist threat recalls the Marine barracks bombing in Lebanon, the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia and the abduction, torture and murder of the CIA station chief in Beirut, William Buckley, in 1985. Dozens of Americans and Europeans were systematically taken hostage between 1982 and 1992.
The kidnapping of the 48 Iranians occurred as the Assad regime claimed it was in full control of Damascus, despite heavy fighting in the capital.
Iranian leaders have continuously warned against “foreign intervention” in Syria.
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