Saturday, November 8, 2014

Inside Iran: From the Khomeini Period of Torture and Murder to Present Day

By Robert Wenzel

In Unveiled Threat: A Personal Experience of Fundamentalist Islam and the Roots of Terrorism,  Janet Tavakoli provides us with an important glimpse into Iran during the revolution that brought  Ayatollah Khomeini to power

Married, at the time, to an Iranian, and living in Iran as Khomeini seized control of the country, her story begins with the Shah in power and proceeds through the period of revolution in the country that led to Khomeini era.

Her personal experiences in the country interspersed with broader context, both of which are part of the book, provide a much richer understanding as to what went on in Iran during the Khomeini's rule than was ever provided by mainstream US media's intense but superficial focus on Iran during the hostage crisis.

She really did experience the revolution first hand:
A young man shoved me back into the garden and shouted:"Lady, they are going to shoot you;they think you are a student."
He was right. I was wearing jeans...
One day my ex-brother-in-law and I were waiting in line for Melli bank to open its doors. We heard distant angry voices. The shouting grew louder and closer. My brother-in-law gave me the keys to his [car] and told me to drive away as fast as I could. If the crowd discovered that I was an American, he couldn't protect me.
And then the Khomeini period began. Tavakoli writes:
Religious tolerance disappeared. Rule of law was demolished. Khomeini initiated a program of torture and summary executions. Khomeini authorized "revolutionary courts." Mullahs led kangaroo courts called komitehs, and used changeable  interpretations of sharia, Islamic law, to mete out punishments.
Neighbor turned on neighbor...The stream of executions included Imperial Army officers, police officers, people rumored to be SAVAK agents, heads of families connected to the Shah, prominent businessmen, cabinet ministers, members of the Majlis (parliament), military officers, and former prime ministers...some of the defendants were completely innocent of any crime, but their wealth and notoriety had attracted the greed of the new corrupt regime...How did Iran revert so quickly from an emerging modern society to the dark ages?
In the book, she also displays a powerful eye of observation for real politick:
The Shah's biggest mistake was that he didn't give Islamic religious leaders a cut of the swag. Mullahs felt they weren't getting their fair share of corruption, power and profits.
The ascent to power by Khomeini is one more lesson that revolution is not always for the good. Tavakoli understands this relative to Iran:
Khomeini had finally achieved the principle of his ambition, and his stewardship was worse on every level than the injustices for which he had criticized the Shah.
Though I am not sure Tavakoli recognizes the broader lesson here. She writes:
I am now convinced that the worst thing that can happen to any country is to allow Islamic fundamentalists to have any say in government.
For sure, the rule by Khomeini was horrific, but this is far from an isolated incident of death and oppression by government. It is not something specific to Islamic fundamentalists. As R.J. Rummel reports in Death By Government, it has occurred all to frequently throughout history, from Nazi Germany to Stalin's Soviet Union to Pol Pot's Cambodia and Mao's China, and death in far greater numbers than occurred in Iran under the rule of the Islamic fundamentalists.

Since the death of Khomeini, things have relaxed somewhat from the extreme oppressive period of Khomeini, especially under the new rule of Hassan Rouhani.

The current state of Iran has now been carefully reported to us in a just out segment of Anthony Bourdain's CNN series Parts Unkown. SEE: Iran.

It is a must view segment that captures the beauty and good spirit of the average Iranian. But first read Tavakoli's  Unveiled Threat to set the scene and correctly understand the twisted journey that has led to current day Iran.

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher at and at Target Liberty. He is also author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics


  1. I would also recommend the excellent program on Iran by Rick Steves (PBS)

    1. A must watch. Great Glimpse of the Regular Folk and a sad reminder of whom U.S. (Western) policy really hurts.