One of the country’s most prominent neoconservative pundits has been accused of using a fabricated quote from Iran’s supreme religious leader in pushing his argument that a US invasion is the only recourse to deter that country’s nuclear ambitions.

Norman Podhoretz is among the most vocal in urging President Bush to bomb Iran, and he has predicted the president will launch an attack before his term is up. Podhoretz’s argument is based on his belief that a nuclear-armed Iran would not be deterred from launching its missiles because its leaders do not fear their country’s destruction.

The Economist has called into question an oft-cited statement Podhoretz attributes to Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini, saying it is likely “bogus.”

Podhoretz, a prominent adviser to Republican candidate Rudy Giuliani, is unbowed in his push for war, and he says he accurately quoted Khomeini saying the following:

We do not worship Iran, we worship Allah. For patriotism is another name for paganism. I say let this land [Iran] burn. I say let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam emerges triumphant in the rest of the world.

The Economist quotes Shaul Bakhash, a Middle East scholar at George Mason University, who thoroughly researched the alleged quotation, which was first cited by Iranian journalist Amir Taheri. Bakhash could find no evidence that those words ever crossed the Ayatollah’s lips.

“This research, I think, clearly establishes that the alleged quotation is a fabrication,” Bakhash writes in a private newsletter for Gulf experts. The scholar searched the Library of Congress, a database of Farsi-language holdings at libraries worldwide, books published in Iran and a “presumably comprehensive” database of Khomeini’s “statements, speeches, fatwas, etc.” and could not find the quotation Podhoretz and other Iran hawks are so fond of. (MORE)


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