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Who perpetrated the Iranian massacre and why it matters

People stand near a man lying on the ground at the scene of explosions during a ceremony held to mark the death of late Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, in Kerman, Iran, Jan. 3, 2024. (Photo: WANA via REUTERS)

In back-to-back explosions on Jan. 3, scores or Iranians were killed, and hundreds injured in Kerman, the city in which I grew up. Despite the Islamic regime blaming Israel, and ISIS taking responsibility, it is important to understand who actually perpetrated these attacks and why.  

The twin blasts were carefully planned and timed. They took place near the grave of former IRGC commander Qasem Soleimani on the fourth anniversary of his death. Whoever carried out these attacks knew in advance that there would be large crowds. It was a premeditated massacre on multiple levels. 

The likelihood of ISIS having any role other than being a useful idiot to the Islamic regime’s status as 'Godfather of terror' is about as probable as Iran making reparations for holding dozens of American hostages in 1979 and 1980. Certainly, Iranians not only don’t believe it, they are ridiculing the notion. ISIS would not have been able to orchestrate the carnage for which they are famous. It needed to be an inside job, by people who knew for a certainty that there would be massive crowds. Of course, who was there matters, but also who was not there that is revealing. 

Regardless of ISIS claiming responsibility, the regime is using ISIS’ claim to its advantage. At the same time the regime blames Israel, and tries to use that to their advantage, as well. Even in the most absurd horror films, there are not two murderers. For the Islamic regime, facts don’t matter.

Immediately following the bombings, it became clearer what had happened, and that all of it was executed by the Islamic regime. 

The timing of the bombings is important because they took place 40 days before Feb. 11, the day on which the Islamic regime celebrates the anniversary of the Islamic revolution that brought the ayatollahs to power. It’s become clear that the explosions were not an act against the regime but, rather, perpetrated by the regime itself. ISIS is cut from the Islamic regime’s cloth. It’s not plausible that it would have anything to do with this domestic terrorist act. The much more plausible case is that it was in preparation, and as a pretext for, the regime orchestrating a dangerous crackdown that has already begun domestically. 

Immediately following the back-to-back explosions, it was obvious to most Iranians that the Islamic regime committed the crime. It planned and killed ordinary citizens at the memorial for Soleimani to stir protests against Israel, and legitimize planned attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets, mobilizing its radical supporters around the world against Israeli and Jewish targets, under the guise of revenging the decimation of their terrorist proxies in Gaza, Syria and Lebanon.

The regime was using the same tactics to pretend that Iranians support the regime as when I was growing up in Iran. As a child, we were forced to go to mass protests to be used as extras in their evil productions. Our lines were always the same: “Death to America. Death to Israel.” Ostensibly, the memorial for Qasem Soleimani was meant to show that Iranians were united in their love for the assassinated former IRGC leader, and the regime. I understood this evil early on, but after becoming a Christian, being arrested, imprisoned, and sentenced to death, I understood it was an evil that was even deeper. 

As it has done for 45 years, it was clear that the whole thing was orchestrated by the regime. Just as when I was a child, the Jan. 3 memorial was full of children, state workers and poor Iranians – all forced to be there as part of the regime’s evil production. 

For someone who has become an icon and martyr of the regime, the fact that neither Soleimani's family, IRGC generals, nor government officials attended his memorial made it clear that it was a farce. Only ordinary citizens and students who were forced to participate were present, and became its victims.

There’s a biblical narrative that these terrorist acts bring to mind in 1 Kings 3:16-28. In this biblical story, two women approach King Solomon to resolve a dispute over who was the mother of the baby they each claimed as theirs. Solomon ruled to cut the baby in half, sparking an outcry from the real mother, who in the end was granted her baby. 

The modern Islamic regime version was all captured by film for the world to see. In one video, a couple sit dispassionately in front of a camera, showing how proud they are that “their son” (whose picture sits behind them) is now a “martyr.” Missing from the picture was any sign of grief leading Iranians to understand these were not the boy’s real parents, but paid actors. They read their script and were no doubt rewarded by the regime/producer. Another video also went viral of a woman wailing over her son’s Iranian-flag draped coffin. The twist is that the child whose death was celebrated by one woman, was the same child for whom the other woman grieved uncontrollably. Iranians know the regime’s tactic of producing fake films too well, and see the first video as a prequel of what’s to come. For King Solomon, this will be an open and shut case. 

One does not need to understand Farsi to know the plot that Iranians know all too well. 

Massacre of innocent civilians is the same tactic used by the regime since the Islamic Revolution. On Aug. 19, 1978, Islamic revolutionaries and radical followers of Khomeini set fire to the Cinema Rex in the city of Abadan, killing almost 500 people. This was a pretext to blame the Shah, and trigger the 1979 Islamic revolution. Just as they did then, this month the Islamic terrorists tried to deceive Iranians and foster anger against ISIS, Israel, or any other convenient perpetrator. Then, they blamed the Shah. Today they blame Israel and the U.S. Same strategy, different scapegoat. 

The difference now is that Iranians living under the heel of Islamic extremism for 45 years know the truth, and know that the Islamic regime is manipulating them while spilling their blood. Today, Iranians know better and are boldly expressing themselves publicly. 

Another remarkable bit of evidence documenting that the recent bombing was choreographed by the regime, Dr. Mehdi Ahmadinejad, the director of a major hospital foolishly revealed in a national TV interview that all the hospitals in Kerman, and other cities near Kerman, were prepared in advance. He said, “We had already prepared the conditions and all the hospitals were in 100 percent readiness.” He said this bragging that they handled the situation very well to help the injured. This proves the regime’s responsibility as the hospitals knew and were prepared in advance. It’s also a way for the regime to take credit to show how well they could provide emergency medical help. 

It's not just that the hospitals were prepared, so were the regime’s PR agencies. The day after the bombings, a huge banner appeared in Kerman with the slogan: “Harsh response.” Iranians understood that only a regime that planned this could get a banner of this size made and hung within a day, conveniently parroting the same message that the regime’s leaders’ threats read from a prepared script less than a day earlier. Threatening Israel with a harsh response is an excuse to commit more terrorist acts that they are planning anyway.

That this crime took place exactly 40 days before the anniversary of the Iranian revolution is also significant. The regime knows that according to Iranian custom, the victims’ relatives will gather on the 40th day to memorialize their loved ones. This will give the regime the opportunity to create a sequel; ostensibly to show the world that many Iranians are celebrating the Islamic Revolution’s anniversary. It raises the idea of fake news to a new level. The regime knows that millions of Iranians hate and will never support them. A huge memorial on the 40th day of their loved ones’ death will create a huge crowd, one the regime will manipulate to spread lies about Iranian support for the regime. 

On Jan. 7, 2020, at the funeral of Qasem Soleimani, more than 50 people were killed and over 200 were injured because of the regime’s mismanagement. They forced many students to attend the funeral and filled many buses with their followers from all around the country, including many poor Afghans with promises of food, as props to show how much Iranians loved him. Because of the crowd, a stampede took place during the burial procession.  

While the regime was trying to create the impression of how much Iranians loved Qasem Soleimani, millions of Iranians were offering cookies to each other in the streets and celebrating his death because he personified the evil of the regime, and how they victimized average Iranians. Demonstrating their true feelings, Iranians’ social media posts created a new hashtag, #Kotlet referring to Soleimani’s death essentially as a well-known Persian fried meat patty. Iranians deliberately started cooking kotlet, sharing pictures and videos on social media, a double entendre for how happy they were that Qasem Soleimani had become like a kotlet: His body unrecognizable like a fried ground beef patty. Today, when people post videos of serving kotlet as an anti-regime message, they risk being arrested. The pre-February 11 domestic crackdown has begun. 

In the coming weeks, as the regime plans its “celebrations” of the 1979 revolution, it is important to see all Iranian regime actions and declarations, as well as those of their proxies, as part of what’s planned for and following Feb. 11. We must be vigilant about any suspicious activities around the world. And it is important to lift the veil on pretending that the Islamic regime can be reasoned with, or that the West’s appeasement of it will lead to anything other than to enable more terror.  

For 45 years, Iranians have lived in a real-life horror film, butchered and brutalized by their own “leaders” and victims of its domestic and international terrorist policies. May 2024 be the last year that anyone ever celebrates the 1979 Islamic Revolution. 

Read more: IRAN

Marziyeh Amirizadeh is an Iranian American who immigrated to the US after being sentenced to death in Iran for the crime of converting to Christianity.  She endured months of mental and physical hardships and intense interrogation. She is author of two books (the latest, A Love Journey with God), public speaker, and activist for religious freedom. She has shared her inspiring story throughout the United States and around the world, to bring awareness about the ongoing human rights violations and persecution of women and religious minorities in Iran.

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