According to Hujjatollah Mojtaba Zolnour, Ayatollah Khameinei's deputy representative to the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guards
Corps), "Zionists are waiting for the Hidden Imam to appear to kill him" (Radio Free Europe's "Persian Letters,"
September 1, 2010: http://www.rferl.org/content/Zionists_Waiting_To_Kill_Hidden_Imam_Says_Iranian_Cleric/2145806.html?page=1&x=1#relatedInfoContainer
). Zolnour alleges that those wily, perfidioius Zionists have assassins staking out the likes of Mecca and
Karbala, ready to send the 12th Imam (back?) to the domain of the 72 houris. Of course, according
to the fevered Mahdist imaginations of the Zolnours in Tehran and Qom, Israelis are part of the occupying forces in Iraq--hence
their ability to case Karbala.
This paranoid fear for the life of Islam's major messianic figure
is strange indeed. First, we have heard this before: earlier this year Presdient Ahmadinejad claimed that
the U.S. was "hindering the Mahdi's return"(http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2010/02/24/101367.html
); and Moqtada al-Sadr (he of southern Iraq's Shi`i Jaysh al-Mahdi,
"Army of the Mahdi"), said the same
thing in 2006 (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article658083.ece
). Second, who is the intended audience for this claptrap--the Basij (the IRGC's domestic, paramilitary auxiliary)?
the rural hoi polloi? Iraqi Shi`is? the non-existent Palestinian Shi`i demographic? And third, do not clerics like Zolnour
who utter such unadulerated silliness realize just how impotent and vulnerable it makes their expected deliverer appear?
Imagine Christian televangelist John Hagee or, much more seriously, Pope Benedict XVI claiming that the returned
Jesus Christ could be hindered, much less killed, by, say, Marxist or "Zionist" hit teams.
Yet for some
reason influential Twelver Shi`i spokesmen (Zolnour, Ahmadinejad and al-Sadr) continue this refrain of the coming Mahdi's
vulnerability to profane powers and their weaponry.
It's almost enough to make one wonder whether these men might
be laying the propaganda ground for the attempted assumption of the Mahdi's title by someone, and his inevitable subsequent
demise at the hands of Americans, Sunnis or "unbelieving" Shi`is--er, I mean, "Zionists!" Which
would, of course, give the Islamic Republic of Iran an excuse to....well, fill in the blank. But a live-fire test of
a nuclear weapon certainly comes to mind.