NCRI-US Staff writer, February 5, 2021
Full transcript of Governor Tom Ridge’s remarks at the NCRI-US briefing to discus the implications of Iran diplomat’s terrorism conviction, February 4, 2021
Thank you for the opportunity to share these thoughts with you and to join my colleagues on this panel. A couple of thoughts I want to share. First of all, I think the United State and the EU, and frankly freedom-loving nations around the world who have embraced the notion of accountability and the rule of law, owe an incredible debt of gratitude to the people of Belgium, their judicial system, their security service, for their courage, for their thoroughness in this investigation. I mean, some of the information that you just shared in that presentation shows you the depth of the investigative effort and certainly substantiates the lengthy and powerful opinion of the judge.
And we’d also say, and we can probably sadly predict, that there will be consequences. There will be retribution. There will be retaliation. And I think the judge and the security people who were assigned to investigate this case understand it fully, but they accept it and embraced the notion that as a country committed to the rule of law that it was fundamental for them to proceed according to the rules of evidence they have in their judiciary system and to render a verdict. And obviously it was a very powerful verdict.
And frankly, a reminder to the rest of the world that when this conduct has been assessed, that they have now again validated something that many both within the community within Iran and those who have followed the path of the mullahs in Iran in this theocracy for the past 30 or 40 years, that it was a state-sponsored terrorist act. And that reprehensible act isn’t the first, but there’s a series of acts over the past 30 or 40 years that we need to remind ourselves that demonstrate once and again that this is a country that has acted with impunity, audacity, arrogance, certainly inconsistent with even basic norms of civil society, total repudiation of any basic sense of human rights, and a consistent engagement in the broader global community to bring chaos and disruption to advance its own ends.
And I couldn’t help but think that this verdict by the court somewhat reminded me of a phrase that Shakespeare used and has been used often in both literary and political arenas since he wrote it, “The truth will out.” The truth is, this is a pariah state. The truth is for the past 40 years they’ve acted that way. And I just decided to run through just a quick list of those actions just to remind those who are observing and listening what can be attributed to this theocracy, this terrorist state. We know that this is jus the most recent terrorist event. But they’ve exported terrorism throughout Europe on multiple occasions. We know they’ve spent hundreds of millions of dollars, perhaps in excess of billions of dollars in the Middle East supporting Hamas and Hezbollah in order to keep that cauldron boiling with the anxiety and unrest. We know they have supported proxies in Bahrain, in Yemen, in Syria, in Lebanon, in Iraq. We know that internally they have killed 30 or 40 thousand men and women who disagreed with the policy, the internal polices, the repressive policies of the Iranian government. We know they have imprisoned and tortured literally thousands and thousands of more individuals. We know they’ve promoted plots in Africa and South America. They’ve had the audacity to threaten international shipping lanes in the Persian Gulf, even challenging U.S. naval vessels. We know they continue to advance their ballistic missile research. And certainly in the past couple of years have begun to enrich plutonium. This on top of being the primary state sponsor of terrorism globally, something that President Bush referred to in the State of the Union address, I think it was in 2002.
And I’m reminded, when I took a look at that address, he condemned the regime at that time for aggressively pursuing weapons of mass destruction and describing the leadership of the regime as “an unelected few seeking to repress the Iranian people’s hopes for freedom.” And those hopes for freedom have been promoted aggressively. They’ve been able to sustain it through all the challenges, diplomatic, across the board. Those hopes have been best expressed by the NCRI. And I think that there is no action that countries who will repudiate and condemn—there will be a lot of international repudiation and condemnation of the Iranian government, that’s fine. But actions certainly speak louder than words. And I don’t think there’s any action that those countries who have the courage to repudiate and condemn the Iranian government for this state-sponsored—let me say that again, not a rogue group—state-sponsored act of terrorism, and to repudiate its terror and oppression over the decades, I think the most powerful and most meaningful act of all, to align themselves if they want to align themselves, as President Bush said, with the hopes and aspirations of the Iranian people, their hopes for freedom, most important and meaningful thing they can do—and I’m sure there’s a long list of things I’d personally like to see them to do—but probably the most prominent and meaningful is simply recognize the NCRI as the embodiment of the hopes and aspirations of the Iranian people for freedom. I appreciate the opportunity to share these thoughts with you and look forward to the comments of my colleagues.