(CNSNews.com) – Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a speech last month repeated his periodic claim of a U.S. hand behind the creation of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and the posted text alluded to a year-old conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton had admitted as much in her memoir.
“Some Americans have confessed in their own memoirs [including Hillary Clinton’s memoirs] that they have played a role in creating, developing and establishing DAESH and today too, they are supporting them,” Khamenei told an Eid al-Fitr (end of Ramadan) gathering of government officials and Islamic ambassadors on July 18, according to the speech text posted on an official Khamenei website.
“Now, a coalition against DAESH has been formed. Of course, I do not believe that there is a real coalition against DAESH,” he continued. Da’esh is an Arabic acronym for ISIS.
“It is you who are the defenders of terrorism!” Khamenei said in comments directed at the U.S. and its Western and Sunni Arab allies. “It is you who have created DAESH. It is you who train terrorists.”
Khamenei likewise accused Iran’s enemies of having created al-Qaeda.
“These criminal organizations – including al-Qaeda, DAESH and the like – were created with the purpose of pitting us against one another and making nations confront each other,” he said. “This is the transgressing and treacherous hand of the enemy.”
The words “including Hillary Clinton’s memoirs” appear in square parentheses in the posted speech on the website of “The Center for Preserving and Publishing the Works of Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei,” so may have been inserted by an editor.
Neither another English-language official website for Khamenei’s office nor English-language state-run media reports on the Eid speech or sermons he delivered on the same day included the specific Clinton reference, speaking merely of “some U.S. officials” having made the supposed admission.
A year ago, claims began circulating in Egypt and elsewhere in a region notorious for conspiracy theories that Hillary Clinton, in her published memoir, acknowledged that the U.S. had created ISIS.
The rumor, which spread online and was reported seriously by newspapers in several Arab countries, was based on supposed excerpts from Clinton’s memoir, “Hard Choices.”
The “excerpts” – which appear nowhere in the book – said the U.S. decided to set up ISIS in response to the Egyptian military’s game-changing ousting of Mohammed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood administration in mid-2013.
The idea was to replace autocratic leaders in the Middle East with Islamists whom the U.S. would apparently have more success in directing than the current regimes. The customary allegations about a U.S. desire to control the region’s oil supplies were cited.
One Egyptian blogger wrote later that the fake excerpts had first emerged on Facebook pages associated with pro-Egyptian military sentiment. Many supporters of the military’s toppling of Morsi accused the U.S. government of backing the Muslim Brotherhood.
Some of the reports also used an imaginary name for Clinton’s book, calling it “Password 360. Others used its actual title, “Hard Choices.”
Among the countries where the claim was reported as fact was Lebanon, where in an Aug. 6, 2014 column in the leading An-Nahar newspaper (in Arabic), veteran reporter Samir Mansour cited the fake quotes. In his version, Clinton had even provided the date of ISIS’ creation – July 5, 2013. (The Egyptian military takeover occurred two days earlier.)
The day Mansour’s column was published, the U.S. Embassy in Beirut issued a statement on its Facebook page denying the claims.
“Any suggestion that the United States ever considered recognizing the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant as anything other than a terrorist organization, or had any role in its creation, is patently false,” said the embassy statement. “Allegations circulating in Lebanon to the contrary are a fabrication.”
When a Facebook user in response to the statement asked about the supposed confession in Clinton’s memoir, the embassy replied, “This is false.”
Joyce Karam, Washington correspondent for the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat, wrote in an Al-Arabiya op-ed at the time that “the wide circulation of the [Clinton/ISIS] claim by numerous Arab online and print outlets, speaks of a tendency in Lebanon and the Arab world to lend credibility to conspiracy theories, even when lacking factual context.”
Karam said the episode “gives a new dimension to conspiracy theories in the Arab world and questions the over-dependency on social media as a news source at the expense of the truth.”
Now, a year later, the claim is being rehashed on an official Khamenei website.
This isn’t the first time the supreme leader has accused the U.S. of being behind ISIS. Last October he declared that the terrorist group was a creation of the U.S. and Britain, designed to divide Muslims.
The following month, after a U.S. airdrop to Kurdish fighters saw some supplies unintentionally fall into ISIS hands, Khamenei charged that that had not been an accident, that the entire notion of an anti-ISIS coalition was “a downright lie.”
In his Eid speech, Khamenei went on to suggest that “the Zionists” are the biggest beneficiary of terrorism and sectarian violence among Muslims; that Western powers are working to bring about the downfall of the Shi’ite-led government in Iraq; and that the U.S. and it allies are trying to overthrow the Syrian regime – a close Iran ally – because both President Bashar al-Assad and his late father “stood up against the fake Zionist regime in an outspoken way.”
In a separate Eid sermon on the same day, Khamenei boasted that the theocratic regime has outlasted five American presidents who had “either died or been lost in history wishing to make Iran surrender,” Iran’s Mehr news agency reported.
He said U.S. officials have confessed to mistakes in relations with Iran in the past, including the CIA’s role in the overthrow of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953; Washington’s backing of Saddam Hussein during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war; and support for Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi until his overthrow in 1979.
“I have an advice for U.S. officials,” Khamenei said. “Today, you are confessing to your previous mistakes in your anti-Iran policies after many years. Wake up and realize that you are making big mistakes in region. You are again making mistakes now.”