It became difficult to focus on writing about Ms. Mohammadi as Hamas’s homicidal attack on Israel played out on my computer monitors. Hamas murdered more than 1,300 Israelis, mostly civilians, with many of them, including children, killed in the most gruesome of ways. Hamas is also suspected of taking as many as 199 hostages. In response to this clear provocation, Israel has since killed many innocent Gazans through bombings and will likely invade Gaza soon.
Suddenly, the profile I was planning to write seemed wildly out of sync with what I was watching. The two stories seemed totally unconnected in their nature, geography and scale.
But further reflection revealed that, in fact, a clear thread runs through them. They represent a battle over the soul of Iran, with vast implications for the rest of the Middle East and, indeed, the globe.
The Hamas attack is, first and foremost, a story about antisemitic terrorism. But it is also, in many ways, a story about Iran’s regime. While Iran’s role in the planning and ordering of the attack has been widely speculated about in the media, there is not yet a “smoking gun” proving this link. But it is hard to imagine that Hamas, a terror group that receives US$100-million annually from the Islamic Republic, and whose leaders are received at the highest levels in Tehran, would attempt such a brazen attack without Iran’s sign-off. (It is worth noting that, despite sanctioning many Iranian entities, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Hamas’s key patron, has not been listed by Canada as a terror group despite repeated demands by activists. A subset of the IRGC, the Quds Force, is on Canada’s terror list.)
The weekend attack is also consistent with the Iranian regime’s weltanschauung. Antisemitism and a desire to destroy Israel have been cornerstones of Islamic Republic policy since its founding in 1979.
But Tehran’s appetite for destruction goes beyond Israel.
Enmity with the world is woven into the regime’s DNA. It came to life with the hostage crisis of 1979, manifested in the Beirut bombings, and continues in the standoff over its nuclear program.
At home, the regime is soaked in blood. Its current President was directly involved in a massacre Canada deemed a crime against humanity. It oversees a gender apartheid apparatus that killed Mahsa Jina Amini last year for “improper hijab.” It is one of the leading executioners in the world.
It is, in short, a regime ripped from the darkest corners of the Middle Ages and transported to the 21st century.
But languishing in its prison, in the person of now-Nobel Laureate Narges Mohammadi, is a different vision.