The group called the Committee for the Commemoration of Martyrs of the Global Islamic Campaign held a registration meeting recently in Iran's capital, Tehran. The group's aim is to boost its roll of volunteers willing to carry out suicide attacks in Israel and Iraq.
The Committee for the Commemoration of Martyrs is often described as "a shadowy group" with no official Iranian government backing. But the Reuters news agency says that "the presence of President Mohammad Khatami's adviser on women's affairs and a representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei leant some official backing" to the group's latest meeting.
A so-called religious decree by Ayatollah Hossein Nuri Hamedani was read aloud at the meeting. Echoing previous statements by Supreme Leader Khamenei, the decree said that suicide attacks are "permitted and relevant in the holy war for the good of Allah."
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says that recruiting suicide bombers in the name of Islam violates the fundamental tenets of "a great world religion." This violent cause "has nothing to do with Islam," says Ms. Rice:
"Islam is a peaceful religion. And so the notion that somehow flying airplanes into buildings or strapping a belt on yourself and blowing up other people is in the service of Islam is something, I think, that clearly perverts the religion and is resented by most respected Islamic scholars for very good reason. By the way, I think probably rejected too by most people, because who wants that to be the future for your children?"
President George W. Bush envisions a far different future for the people of Iran than signing up for missions of death:
"I believe that the Iranian people ought to be allowed to freely discuss opinion, read a free press, have free votes, be able to choose among political parties."
"I believe," said Mr. Bush, "that Iranians should adopt democracy; that's what I believe."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.