The December 23rd issue of Newsweek has an article called “Time to Expose the Mullahs” by Fareed Zakaria with the opener, “What country in the Middle East supports a flourishing terrorist network and is steadily acquiring weapons of mass destruction? If you said Iraq, you’re one letter off. It’s Iran, which the State Department has long branded “the most active state sponsor of terrorism in the world.” The article makes many other excellent points,

…Iran is also a vigorous exporter of Islamic fundamentalism. For two decades now Tehran has funded radical Islamic movements, scholars and centers around the world….Iran’s democracy is a sham. The president, Mohammed Khatami, is a figurehead, allowed to give high-minded speeches and do little else…The fundamental mistake people make about today’s Iran is to assume that the reformers–who speak in tones that the West can understand–wield power…Iran is a theocracy; the reformers and moderates are window dressing. Real power rests with a tiny clerical establishment.

Most distressing is this paragraph,

The clerics have created a network of supporters and enforcers who keep things tightly under control. There are several shadowy gangs of thugs–the largest of them a Hitler Youth-type group called the Basij–that go around terrorizing people. They operate above and beyond the law, breaking up demonstrations, even those that have been approved by local authorities. Then there is the secret police. One of the ironies of Iran today is that the mullahs came to power riding a wave of fear over the shah’s dreaded Savak. But the only institution of the old regime that has been maintained, indeed fortified, has been the Savak, now called the Savama.

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