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Iran could be next, York prof warns

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November 21, 2005

Source: York University:

Iran could be next, York prof warns

TORONTO, November 21, 2005 -- In the wake of the suicide bombings in Jordan, there are signs that Iran could be next on al-Qaeda’s list, despite being a Muslim and largely anti-American country, says Dr. Michael Dartnell, a visiting professor of Political Science at York University.

"The situation is evolving rapidly in Iraq and challenging many assumptions about global security," says Dartnell, a specialist on terrorism and new forms of conflict. "Countries that were thought to be safe may no longer be."

As majority Shi’a Iran is now very active in southern Iraq and has long opposed the Sunni-al-Qaeda-Taliban interpretation of Islam, it is possible Iran will become the next target for the terrorist group, he explains. Iran sees itself as a regional power in the area, which inevitably places it in the firing line of groups like al-Qaeda that seek to radicalize the situation, he says.

Terrorism is about surprise and unpredictable acts, so making forecasts is always an exercise in projections, says Dartnell. Nevertheless, nations such as Iran, Syria, Turkey and Lebanon could all be targeted by al-Qaeda for a variety of reasons.

Dartnell's warning about Iran comes after the recent suicide-bomber attacks in the Jordanian capital city of Amman, another Muslim country in the Middle East. Suicide bombers apparently imported from Iraq set off bombs at three Western hotels, killing 57 and injuring nearly 100 people. In one hotel, a wedding reception was taking place.

Dozens have been arrested in connection to the attacks, which have provoked angry protests from Jordanians, particularly against Al-Qaeda-in-Iraq’s leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is himself a native of Jordan. The terrorists have claimed the hotels attacked were centres for launching wars on Islam.

These events have launched fears of Iraq extremists exporting terrorism to numerous other countries. Dartnell suggests the next one may be Iran, not only because it seems to be benefiting from the US intervention in Iraq, but also because of its influence in the region. "Iran sees itself as a regional power in the Gulf and its activities should be understood as solidifying this role," he insists. As a regional power, it too may become a target.

Dartnell’s new book, Insurgency Online, looks at Web activism and information technologies and the new forms of conflict made possible by global communications. He is also the author of Action Directe: Ultra-Left Terrorism in France.

York University is the leading interdisciplinary research and teaching university in Canada. York offers a modern, academic experience at the undergraduate and graduate level in Toronto, Canada’s most international city. The third largest university in the country, York is host to a dynamic academic community of 50,000 students and 7,000 faculty and staff, as well as 190,000 alumni worldwide. York’s 10 faculties and 21 research centres conduct ambitious, groundbreaking research that is interdisciplinary, cutting across traditional academic boundaries. This distinctive and collaborative approach is preparing students for the future and bringing fresh insights and solutions to real-world challenges. York University is an autonomous, not-for-profit corporation.


For more information, contact:
Janice Walls, Media Relations, York University, 416-736-2100 x22101 /



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