Former Iran assassin says alleged plot 'makes no sense'
Dawud Salahuddin, an American fugitive in Tehran who carried out 1980 hit near Washington, argues that Iran would not try to kill the Saudi ambassador to the US for fear of provoking war.
(Page 3 of 3)
Salahuddin was a student of the black power movement of the 1960s and 1970s, and was deeply affected by racial violence and the slayings of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. He told The New Yorker in 2002 the he had been an “angry and alienated” black American: “I was primed for violence, and I thought about cratering the White House a quarter century before Al Qaeda did. It would be accurate to say that my biggest aspiration was to bring America to its knees, but I didn’t know how.”Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Salahuddin respected the ideals of Islam as colorblind, as well as the stated aims of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's revolution.
"I began reading the Koran when I was actually in university, at Howard University campus," recalled Salahuddin in a 2006 documentary called "American Fugitive." "I'd read the Bible, too, I'd been in church, catechism studies. But when I began to read the Koran it made sense to me. ... From that time on, I was hooked."
In the film, Salahuddin discusses the assassination he committed, and weighs it up against the Islamic injunction against killing anyone – much less a fellow Muslim believer.
But operationally, he says the 1980 murder offers little relevant experience when compared to the alleged Iranian plot today, because "everything has changed since then."
For one thing, since then Iranian hit squads have assassinated scores of regime opponents, across Europe and Iraq, in the 1980s and early 1990s. Some were spectacular hits, but none in recent years.
Several attempts in the US that Salahuddin was aware of failed; after his successful hit, he says, "everyone else [in the US] went underground for 10 years, and started wearing bulletproof vests."
'Iranians killing Iranians'
"When you speak about Iranian terrorism, you speak about Iranians killing Iranians, you don't hear about Iranians blowing up an entire restaurant just to get one Saudi, or an Israeli embassy," notes Salahuddin. "Those are acts of war."
He says he has been surprised by the immediate and tough response from Mr. Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who have ramped up their rhetoric for more sanctions, as some US lawmakers have called for more serious action.
"It's incredible. It makes me think, for all the so-called intelligence in the American administration, they have absolutely no imagination... they think that Iran is such an easy scapegoat," says Salahuddin.
"The only beneficiaries in a scenario like this, which I believe is absolutely false, are the Americans and the Israelis," adds Salahuddin. "It seems to me that the administration is playing to the public, instead of playing to reality. Because this notion is unreality, that the Iranians are going to be doing this kind of thing."