Apocalyptic signals from Iran worry U.S. intelligence
The U.S. intelligence community has not been surprised by Iran's refusal to respond to a Western incentive package to suspend its uranium enrichment. Intelligence sources said Iran, following North Korea's model, intends to delay any response or negotiations for as long as possible.
The European Union and the United States demanded that Iran reply to the Western incentive package of nuclear technology, fuel and aircraft by June 29. But Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said Teheran would submit an answer by Aug. 22.
The U.S. intelligence community has been trying to figure out why Ahmadinejad chose that date. Sources said the community was stumped until some Islam experts translated the Gregorian date to that of the Muslim calendar. READ MORE
Then came the surprise that has the intelligence community worried.
Aug. 22 corresponds to Rajab 27 on the Muslim calendar. The date is called Lailat Al Israa, when Mohammed ascended to heaven from the Al Aqsa mosque to receive the five daily prayers. Later, Al Aqsa came to represent Jerusalem.
The Muslim commemoration is meant to be a night of struggle, accompanied by thunder and lightening, resembling the story of Moses ascending Mount Sinai to receive the Old Testament.
Ahmadinejad could be hinting to the West that he is preparing a major attack on Israel. Or, the Iranian president could be warning that unless the West caves in, he would escalate tension in the region. The lightening in Mohammed's story could represent Iranian missiles.
What is clear is that Ahmadinejad does not see himself as an Iranian leader, but a Muslim prophet, using imagery to portray himself as a messiah for both Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims.