“Death to America!”, Theory and Practice

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke to a meeting of Iranian students this week in celebration of the anniversary of the seizing of the American Embassy by similar students during the 1979 revolution.  At the event, which commemorates the beginning of a hostage taking that lasted for 444 days, the Supreme Leader is reported to have told the students that the famous chant “Death to America” refers not to the American nation, but to America’s policies.

Know that Iranian nation’s “Down with US” slogan is rational and has strong background and it is clear it does not mean death to the American “nation;” this slogan means death to American policies, death to Arrogance; this has a rational background and our Constitution and logic pronounce the same and it is understandable for any nation.

What the Supreme Leader left unsaid is that “Death to America” has certainly meant “Death to Americans,” not only in the days of the not-so-long-ago revolution but in very recent years and under his own leadership.  This was underlined by the release of sections of a classified United States Central Command report at the request of Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).  The report treats the number of American servicemembers killed or wounded in Iraq by Iranian-made explosively formed penetrators (EFPs).  An EFP consists of a shaped charge whose explosion forms a carefully-machined plate, usually copper, so that it becomes a highly effective punch that can penetrate the armor even of specially-designed American vehicles.

Though early EFP designs have existed since World War II, the precision involved in the machining of the disc and shaping of the charge requires special expertise.  Iran has long been a provider of this technology to Shi’a radicals.  Indeed, one of the defenses raised by Iran’s supporters was that the Iraqi Shi’ite militia supporting Muqtada al-Sadr, the Mahdi Army, might have gotten its EFP technology from Hezbollah rather than directly from Iran.  This is a distinction without a difference, as Hezbollah got its technology from Iran and would have provided it to the Mahdi Army under Iranian guidance.  Indeed, in the wake of President Obama’s precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, Hezbollah has expanded into the power vacuum and now has a robust Iraqi presence itself.  This was done with Iran’s full participation and encouragement, and in coordination with Iran’s Quds Force, which oversees their unconventional warfare operations.

According to the report from US Central Command, Iranian made EFPs directly accounted for nearly two hundred American dead.  The report is damning.

The Iranian explosive devices wounded another 861 U.S. soldiers, and a total of 1,534 attacks were carried out on U.S. military members over this period, according to sources familiar with the report, which was provided to Cruz’s office.

The explosive devices are a “hallmark weapon” of Iran’s Quds force, a paramilitary group that operates outside of Iran’s borders, according to sources familiar with the report. It has been determined that only Iranian-backed operatives use these weapons in Iraq.

U.S. military leaders disclosed in testimony before the Senate that Iranian terror activities have claimed the lives of around 500 U.S. soldiers, which accounts for at least 14 percent of all American casualties in Iraq from 2003 to 2011.

“That blood is on Iran’s hands,” Cruz said Wednesday afternoon during a hearing on the Obama administration’s decision to not prosecute terrorists who have murdered American citizens and troops abroad.

“Iran has been and still is at war with the U.S.,” Cruz said. “Yet despite the slaughter and maiming of an untold number of America citizens … the U.S. government has rather shockingly failed time and time again to fulfill its sovereign duty to obtain justice for its citizens. Our government has failed terror victims in a number of ways.”

Cruz went on to point to similar occasions in which Iranian-backed terrorist outfits have murdered Americans without the Department of Justice pursuing charges.  Indeed, the hearing found that in one occasion when US citizens had won a legal judgment against Iran for terrorist attacks that cost the lives of American citizens, the Justice Department had stepped in to protect Iran from having to pay the fine.

“On one side [of the courtroom] was my legal team representing victims of terrorism, and on the other side was the U.S. sitting with its newfound ally Iran,” said Daniel Miller, a victim of a Hamas-led attack.

It seems that “Death to America” has a practical meaning as well as a theoretical one.