Iran’s Role in the Murder of Two Americans in Tajikistan

Aug. 10 2018

On July 29, terrorists attacked a group of tourists in Tajikistan, killing four (including two Americans) and wounding three others. While Islamic State took responsibility for the attack, the attackers themselves seemed to have received training in Iran and were possibly working with a pro-Tehran group within Tajikistan. The former Soviet republic has a population that, unlike Shiite Iran, is 85-percent Sunni Muslim; but Tajik, the dominant language, is closely related to Persian. The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs documents the Islamic Republic’s recent attempts to sow discord there:

[S]enior Tajik interior-ministry officials told the BBC that Islamic State was not connected to this incident, but rather that an affiliated Islamic movement, the Tajik Islamic Renaissance Party (IRPT) whose activities were legally banned three years ago, planned and carried out the attack. . . . IRPT, which was founded in 1990, has strong ties with Iran. It was first outlawed in Tajikistan in 1993 [but after 1997] its activities took place openly . . . In 2015, . . . two of its representatives [were] elected to the 63-seat parliament. However, Tajikistan declared again in 2015 that the party was a terror organization. . . . Yet the ties between the party and Iran strengthened.

In December 2015, Iran not only invited Muhiddin Kabiri, chairman of the IRPT, to a conference that took place in Tehran, entitled “Islamic Movements around the World,” but there was also a meeting between Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Kabiri that aroused the anger of Tajikistan. . . . Relations between Tehran and Dushanbe continued to deteriorate [thereafter]. . . .

[T]he official news agency of Tajikistan published an article in the spring of 2017 emphasizing that Iran is gathering militias [affiliated with] IRPT that fought in the Syrian civil war on the border between Afghanistan and Tajikistan. According to the news agency, the movement’s militias . . . are located in training camps along that border with the purpose of carrying out further attacks in the area. . . .

The Iranian [state-controlled] media . . . interview Kabiri often. In an interview with the Tasnim agency in June 2018, Kabiri refers to “the natural right” of his party as an Islamic party to have strong ties to Iran “as every Islamic organization or movement needs to have connections with Iran, which is an Islamic country with an Islamic leadership.” According to him, his movement also maintains “strong ties with the Muslim Brotherhood.”

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More about: Central Asia, Iran, ISIS, Islamism, Politics & Current Affairs, Terrorism

Israel’s Nation-State Law and the Hysteria of the Western Media

Aug. 17 2018

Nearly a month after it was passed by the Knesset, the new Basic Law defining Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people” is still causing outrage in the American and European press. The attacks, however, are almost uniformly incommensurate with this largely symbolic law, whose text, in the English translation found on the Knesset website, is barely over 400 words in length. Matthew Continetti comments:

Major journalistic institutions have become so wedded to a pro-Palestinian, anti-Benjamin Netanyahu narrative, in which Israel is part of a global trend toward nationalist authoritarian populism, that they have abdicated any responsibility for presenting the news in a dispassionate and balanced manner. The shameful result of this inflammatory coverage is the normalization of anti-Israel rhetoric and policies and widening divisions between Israel and the diaspora.

For example, a July 18, 2018, article in the Los Angeles Times described the nation-state law as “granting an advantageous status to Jewish-only communities.” But that is false: the bill contained no such language. (An earlier version might have been interpreted in this way, but the provision was removed.) Yet, as I write, the Los Angeles Times has not corrected the piece that contained the error. . . .

Such through-the-looking-glass analysis riddled [the five] news articles and four op-eds the New York Times has published on the matter at the time of this writing. In these pieces, “democracy” is defined as results favored by the New York Times editorial board, and Israel’s national self-understanding as in irrevocable conflict with its democratic form of government. . . .

The truth is that democracy is thriving in Israel. . . .  The New York Times quoted Avi Shilon, a historian at Ben-Gurion University, who said [that] “Mr. Netanyahu and his colleagues are acting like we are still in the battle of 1948, or in a previous era.” Judging by the fallacious, paranoid, fevered, and at times bigoted reaction to the nation-state bill, however, Bibi may have good reason to believe that Israel is still in the battle of 1948, and still defending itself against assaults on the very idea of a Jewish state.

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Israel's Basic Law, Israeli democracy, Media, New York Times