Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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Rafsanjani: “Moderate” or Terrorist?

by Elliott Abrams
May 20, 2013


Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has now declared his candidacy for president of Iran, and many Western media accounts suggest that he is the kind of “moderate” who could radically change Iran’s conduct and its relations with the United States.  The Guardian in London referred to him as “the 79-year-old moderate politician famous for his pragmatism.” The BBC says he is “seen as a moderate.” France 24 calls him “this pragmatic moderate.” The Associated Press refers to him as a “moderate former president.” There are many others examples.

This is strange kind of “moderation,” for Rafsanjani’s presidency (1989-1997) includes the following acts of terror:

  1. 1992 Israeli embassy bombing in Argentina, 29 killed and 242 injured
  2. 1994 bombing of the AMIA, the Jewish community center building in Buenos Aires, 85 killed and approximately 300 injured. In 1996, an Argentine issued an arrest warrant for Rafsanjani due to his personal role in approving this attack.
  3. 1992 assassination of 4 Kurdish dissidents in a restaurant Berlin, which German prosecutors said Rafsanjani has personally approved.

That’s a partial list of acts of international terrorism, and Rafsanjani’s personal role has been noted by prosecutors and courts.

At home, Rafsanjani was president for most of the so-called “chain murders” or “serial murders” of 80 Iranian intellectuals and dissidents from 1988 to 1998. (See a full list here.) As president, Rafsanjani kept in office the officials committing these crimes. Indeed, the fact that some were removed by his successor, Mohammed Khatami, shows once again that Rafsanjani could have acted to stop the terror–but instead acted to enlarge it.

So, the media are adopting a definition of pragmatism and moderation that is indefensible. When he was president of Iran Rafsanjani presided over some of the worst acts of terror ever committed by the Islamic Republic.


Post a Comment 3 Comments

  • Posted by David S. Most

    The European media are desperately seeking to label as “moderate” any Arab or Iranian leader who has the slightest history of not having spouted inflammatory poison 24/7 day after day after day,
    Their own countries are under constant attack from within by Islamists who encounter little resistance to the Shariah push. Since there appears to be no will to resist among the Europeans, their media seek to create some kind of “hope” for the remaining secularists to cling too.
    Rafsanjani with the A Bomb will not be any more “moderate” than Khomanie would have been had he possessed it!!

  • Posted by Aaron Burr

    from whence the Euro press: by “moderate”, do they mean that Rafsanjani would have had Khalid Sheikh Mohammed use a rope rather than a sword to dispatch Danny Pearl? i’m just sayin’.

  • Posted by Abu Nudnik

    Rafsanjani openly talked about how Israel could not destroy Islam with one bomb but Iran could destroy Israel with one. Some moderate!

    I agree with all posters and the author. There is something desperate and cowardly about this search for the moderate that doesn’t exist.

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