Ayatollah 'Ali Khamenei is the 'Supreme Leader' of Iran and commands the Iranian military. He is on the forefront of supporting Jihad against America. Many of Khamenei's sermons are broadcast live on Iranian state-controlled television and can be viewed on MEMRI's TV Monitor Project (www.memritv.org).
The Supreme Leader frequently threatens the U.S. against interfering with Iran's nuclear program. On July 5, 2004, he stated to a crowd chanting "Death to America": "We will cut off the hand that is sent to invade and work against our people's interests… If the enemy has the audacity to harm and invade, our blows against it will not be limited to the borders of our country…"
This past summer Khamenei gave a speech broadcast on the Iranian channel Jaam-E-Jam 2 about the same subject: "The enemies of Iran – led by the most despicable of all, the U.S. government … opened their filthy mouths… We have no need for a nuclear bomb… The Iranian people has been defeating America for the past 25 years. The world of Islam has been mobilized against America for the past 25 years. The people call 'death to America!'"
In response to President Bush's State of the Union message on February 3, 2005, Khamenei called the U.S. "one of the lands of a Seven Headed Dragon." As a
main propagator of anti-Americanism, the Supreme Leader often compares President Bush to Adolf Hitler and the U.S. to Nazi Germany. An article was devoted to this subject in the Persian daily Jomhour-e Eslami, paraphrasing comments made the week of August 30, 2002 by Khamenei: "The language of the U.S. president resembles the language of Hitler… If Hitler had to show the face of a bloodthirsty dictator, he would have had to adopt [the face of] George W. Bush."
The article continued, describing Khamenei's philosophy that the U.S. is the modern incarnate of Nazi Germany: "There is a great resemblance between the behavior of today's Americans and the behavior of the Nazis… The Americans are infected today with satanic pride and arrogant egotism… Bush is heading towards a dead end on the same path on which the dictators who caused the two world wars."
In a sermon Khamenei gave on April 5, 2002, he declared: "The world has already seen these Hitlers. Earlier [in world history] Hitler intended to do the same. Anyone wishing to challenge the nations' will and power … will be crushed and annihilated… This will be America's bitter end."
Khamenei is confident that the U.S. will soon collapse. He was quoted in Jomhour-e Eslami on May 20, 2004, stating that "the end of the U.S. will begin in Iraq. As the Imam [Khomeini] said, 'One day the U.S. too will be history.' In light of what happened in Iraq, we can see now that he is right, because such events move the U.S. down the slope, and they will taste the bitterness of sure defeat."
One of the Supreme Leader's weapons to be used to defeat the U.S. is Jihad by Iranian students who are willing to become martyrs. Speaking to a group of students in the first week of 2005, the Iranian paper Sharq quoted Khamenei calling on them to embrace Jihad: "The enemies of Iran tried to humiliate and diminish the value of martyrdom [shahada] and the culture of Jihad in the eyes of the youth, particularly students… This [ideal] is the same wondrous element that gives those fighting Jihad for the path of truth the strength to overcome any scheme of the front of hostility."
On January 20, 2005, urging students to continue to promote the culture of Jihad and martyrdom amongst themselves, he stated: "When we encounter the name of a student who committed martyrdom we are confident that the acceptance of martyrdom and of the Jihad that led to this martyrdom stemmed from [the martyr's] self-awareness… This intensifies the value of the act. Sanctify and praise your exalted martyrs…"
In an address broadcast on Iranian TV on October 22, 2004, Khanemei explained: "Jihad means to strive for the lofty values… Whoever fights for these values … Allah's angels point to him in heaven. Do not consider those who are slain in the cause of Allah as dead… When this great nation, with its zealous and faithful youth … resist the enemy … it will let it taste defeat once more."
Threats against the U.S. by leading Iran officials have become a common occurrence. Over the next few months, this column will focus further on them.
Steven Stalinsky is the Executive Director of The Middle East Media Research Institute