April 1, 2024

Israeli Airstrike on Iranian Consulate in Damascus Kills Senior Iranian IRGC Leader

Iranian Consulate - Damascus, Syria

An Israeli airstrike in the early evening hours of April 1 on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria, killed the apparent target of the operation, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi.

According to Iranian television, Zahedi was the commander of Qods Force units in Syria and Lebanon. The Qods Force is a capable special operations organization charged with much of Iranian activities in the region and around the world. A previous commander of the Qods Force, Qassem Soleimani, was killed in an American airstrike in Baghdad in January 2020.

According to the semi-official IRGC-affiliated Tasnim News Agency, five other IRGC commanders and two advisers were killed in the consulate along with Zahedi. They include Zahedi's deputy and chief or staff. The Islamic Republic News Agency reported that the consulate building was completely destroyed. Syrian television added that everyone in the building was killed.

Mohammad Reza Zahedi

Zahedi is one the IRGC's top commanders with a wealth of operational and command experience. A combat veteran of the Irani-Iraq War, he previously served as the commander of the IRGC Air Force, then commander of the IRGC Ground Force, before taking command of all Qods Forces deployed to Lebanon and Syria - one of the key commands in the IRGC. 

The loss of Zahedi and virtually his entire senior staff is a severe blow to Iranian foreign policy in the region - this was a bad day for the Iranians.

I am impressed with the execution of the Israeli operation. 

I lived in Damascus not far from these Iranian diplomatic facilities - embassy, consulate, and ambassador's residence. These are located in crowded areas with civilian residential compounds and buildings. The Iranian diplomatic staff in Damascus reported that neither the ambassador nor any other personnel were injured in the attack - this shows the accuracy of the Israeli strike.

It also highlights the ability of the Israeli intelligence services to determine that at least eight IRGC commanders and advisers would be in the consulate building at the same time, and determine it in time to take action to eliminate the targets.


March 30, 2024

Taliban to revive policy of stoning and flogging women


Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada

Taliban Leader Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada announces a return to the policy of stoning women: 

"We will soon implement the punishment for adultery. We will flog women in public. We will stone them to death in public. We will bring shari'ah to this land.”

How enlightened - stoning and flogging. 

Stoning as a form of capital punishment goes back to ancient times. Stoning appears to have been the standard method of capital punishment in ancient Israel. The Torah and Talmud prescribe stoning as punishment for a number of offenses, however, Rabbinic Judaism developed a number of procedural constraints which made these laws practically unenforceable. 

Although stoning is not mentioned in the Quran, classical Islamic jurisprudence imposed stoning as a shari'ah punishment for adultery based on hadith (sayings attributed to Muhammad). 

Only a few isolated instances of legal stoning are recorded in pre-modern history of the Islamic world. In recent times, stoning has been a legal or customary punishment in Iran, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, parts of Nigeria, Afghanistan, Brunei, and tribal parts of Pakistan. That said, it is rarely practiced - it appears that is about to change in Afghanistan. 

If you want to see just how barbaric Islamic stoning is, I recommend the excellent movie The Stoning of Soraya M, a 2008 movie about the stoning of a young woman in Iran.

Scene from "The Stoning of Soraya M"

The movie stars the talented Shohreh Aghdashloo, Mozhan Navabi, and Jim Caviezel, and is available for free on YouTube.

I will caution that the stoning scenes are graphic and intense. The requirements for stoning are quite precise, as shown here (click here for a larger view):

Welcome to the 7th Century.