In a he-had-it-coming-to-him-moment, the self-proclaimed father of suicide bombing appears to have been injured on Tuesday in Beirut, where the Iranian embassy was targeted by an Al-Qaeda faction, The Times of London reported. 23 people were killed in the attack, including an Iranian diplomat, and 140 were injured.
The Times said 67-year-old cleric Issa Tabatabai is a close ally of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and a key go-between for Iran and its Lebanese proxy militia, Hezbollah. It cited website Ayandeh as reporting that the cleric’s wife and daughter were also wounded, and that all three were in hospital in Beirut.
Tabatabai has championed suicide bombing, or “martyrdom operations,” and bragged that he helped to cement the notion. He was involved in several lethal attacks during Lebanon’s civil war, including the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy that killed 63 people and marked the beginning of Islamist attacks on American targets, The Times said.
The Times said that Tabatabai claimed to have secured a fatwa from Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s first Supreme Leader, that permitted suicide attacks against a religious enemy. Suicide is haram (sinful) under Islamic law.
In a 2010 interview, Tabatabai said he had urged the Supreme Leader to bend the rules after Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, The Times reported:
“A Lebanese Shia cleric issued a fatwa saying, ‘Under the present conditions, fighting Israel is like committing suicide and suicide is haram in Islam.’ I quickly hurried back to Tehran to see Imam Khomeini and told him about the fatwa,” Tabatabai said. To fight back against the Israelis, the cleric asked Khomeini if suicide bombing could be justified under Islamic law. “Imam Khomeini said, ‘No, this is not suicide, this is martyrdom, this is jihad [holy war], this is definitely permissible.’ This is how I got the fatwa on suicide bombings from the imam and how everything changed in Lebanon ever since,” Tabatabai said.