Year after year, the United Nations General Assembly in New York gives Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the international platform he craves for thumping himself on the chest as the world's greatest font of wisdom and prophet of virtue. This year, he won a double platform. He did not have to wait his turn at the opening session of the UN General Assembly Thursday, Sept 23; at the Millennium Conference on Monday, he offered a foretaste of what was to come, namely a torrent of self-congratulation and a sermon on his unasked-for panaceas for the world's ills – well spiced with an outpouring of virulent contempt for the West.
As president of Iran, he routinely preaches the need to change the world order, elevate Islam as the world's super-faith, and acknowledge Iran as the leading power of the Middle East-Persian Gulf.
Now, his ambition has broken out of those bounds and soared into outer space.
During a breakfast meeting with reporters and editors Tuesday, Sept. 21 at Manhattan's Warwick Hotel, he announced with a straight face that if the world has two superpowers, Iran is the second one. He was good enough to acknowledge the United States as the No. 1 superpower – but only for a moment before hastening to correct himself: The United States has never fought a real war – hinting at what he is planning for America – and is on course to self-annihilation, he explained. So who was left to rule the world? No prizes for guessing.
In any case, Ahmadinejad explained: "Now that the discriminatory order of capitalism and hegemonic approaches are facing defeat and getting close to their end," he said, "all-out participation in upholding justice and prosperous interrelations is essential."
And what will happen if America in its last, dying flutter decides to attack the Iranian nuclear program or support an Israeli attack on it? Ahmadinejad was asked in an ABC TV interview. He replied with complete confidence: "War is not just bombs. Such a war would know no boundaries."
Lies, distortions, hyperbole, self-righteous bragging
In New York, he never stops beaming at all the attention he gets. The difference in his appearance now and last year is striking. He has grown a beard, possibly to look more telegenic and he is wearing new suits custom-made for the trip as befits his Napoleonic strut at the head of a large retinue as a world emperor.
The would-be emperor is happily lapping up the media attention.
Since he arrived in New York on Sept. 18, he has not stopped giving interviews to television, radio and newspapers. He regales interviewers with a quotable mix of lies, hyperbole, distortions and self-righteous bragging – usually beside the point of the question.
Asked about the sentencing of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani to death by stoning, he said it was not true and anyway the legal process had not yet run its course. Ever aggressive, the Iranian president asked rhetorically, "Right now, 53 women in the US are on death row, while the sentencing of Mrs. Mohammadi is yet to be finalized in Iran. However [the West has launched an anti-Iranian wave of media hype. Why are the Americans so interested in one woman in Iran who took part in her husband's murder?"
This was one of his more transparent lies. Sakineh was never involved in her husband's murder; the murderer was caught years ago, tried and executed. The Islamic regime is now framing her as a murderess to justify her execution by stoning. If she is saved from this Muslim death by the mounting international outcry, Tehran will find another way to execute her.
His first job was to make sure victims of firing-squads were dead
Until six years ago, no one in Iran had heard of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, except for the people unfortunate enough to encounter him in the course of his first job, which was to make sure that opposition members sentenced to a firing squad had indeed breathed their last.
His oversight of the executions of 1,000 condemned prisoners won him the nickname Mard-e Hezar Goluleh, "man of a thousand bullets."
Later, as a mayor in the province of Azerbaijan, he was seen as an oddball who had no idea how to run a city and spent his time talking to clerics and praying at the mosque.
In 2002, when he was appointed governor of Ardebil province, he displayed more religious piety than interest in his duties.
From job to job, his religious radicalism has grown. Filling out his profile, people who worked with him in those years told DEBKA-Net-Weekly's sources in Tehran how he would stop on the road before a beautiful tree or large rock and pray for the coming of the Mahdi, the Emam-Zaman, who is the Shiite messiah.
This article of faith is the essence of Ahmadinejad's personal creed and the driving force of his political performance at home, those sources stress. Anyone or anything he sees as obstructing the coming of the Mahdi is the enemy and must be destroyed.
During his first term as president, Ahmadinejad spent millions on building an extravagant hotel in the northern Tehran suburb of Chah-e Jamkam, which stands empty to this day. It is dedicated to one purpose: There, the Mahdi will spend his first days on earth until he decides where he wants to go.
It was built near a well which Shiites believe is the Mahdi's hiding place and which Ahmadinejad has developed as an important site of pilgrimage.
A narcissist schizophrenic or a Shiite Peter – or both?
His fans compare him to the Christian John the Baptist who heralded the coming of Jesus. Ahmadinejad preaches the coming of the Mahdi at every opportunity. He aspires to the post of his deputy, the Shiite version of the Christian St. Peter.
He often tells his people that Iran will soon rule all the countries of the world. Some laugh behind his back and call him a hallucinatory. In fact, he is talking about the coming of the Mahdi, who will conquer the world and convert all its peoples to Shiite Islam.
Psychologists who have made a study of the Iranian president diagnose him as suffering from two mental disorders: He is a narcissist with a constant need to be the center of attention, often coming out with outrageous comments to make waves in the media.
He also seems to suffer from Hyper-Active Schizophrenia. He trusts no one except one close confidant, his father-in-law Esfandyar Rahim Mashaee, who is also his chef de bureau.
There are many stories going around Iran about his delusions.
When he returned from his first UN General Assembly five years ago, he said that as he stood on the podium he saw a prophets' halo shining over his head.
In fact, the "halo" was a spotlight routinely trained on a speaker addressing the General Assembly.
Ahmadinejad also related that as his convoy drove through the streets of New York up to UN Headquarters, he heard a woman say to her young son: "Look, it's Muhammad. It's Muhammad."
He did not explain in which language the mother spoke (he is not that fluent in English), nor how he was able to hear her words as he passed in the car.
In one of his speeches he told a story about an Iranian schoolgirl who, on her way back from school, went into a small grocery store, bought a few items, then went down to the basement of her home and by the strength of her religious faith was able to generate "nuclear energy."
Khamanei rigged the presidential elections twice – for Ahmadinejad
So why in 2005 did Iran's spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei choose him first as candidate for the presidency knowing as he did all about the man's messianic fixation which he even mocks behind closed doors?
The answer is that when he chose him he believed he could control him. Eventually, the monster rose up against its creator. But at the time, Khamenei rejected all the other candidates for the post, including the former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, a powerhouse in his own right. To get his candidate elected, the supreme leader tampered with the results, just as he did again in 2009, because he needed Ahmadinejad to perform two missions:
1. To restore Iran to the state of religious stasis prevailing before Mohammad Khatami's comparatively liberal presidency. The new president was to repeal all the Khatami reforms.
2. To fast-forward the nuclear program to a capacity for building a nuclear program and nuclear-capable missiles able to reach any point on the face of the earth. Before Ahmadinejad took over in 2004, the nuclear program was all but shut down and not taken seriously even in Iran.
He has accomplished both of these tasks – and more.
Iran has sunk to the pit of the darkest of dictatorships. Most reformists are locked up in jail or have escaped to exile. In the last few months, 231 journalists have fled Iran, a figure which is swelling steadily.
Ex-president Khatami goes in fear of his life and the two leading candidates who challenged Ahmadinejad in last year's presidential election, Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi, are constantly harassed by the regime's thugs, live effectively under house arrest and may be thrown into prison at any moment.
Not content with grabbing all the key executive positions, Ahmedinejad has set his sights on controlling the legislature, the Majlis. This week he declared the Majlis has no authority to oppose his bills or amend them. He also places himself above the judiciary, demanding total obedience from the judges.
Israel must go because it spoils his dream empire and is a Western outpost
In his six years as president, Ahmadinejad has ramped up Iran's weapons program to a capacity which is no more than a year or two from building 2-6 nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles to deliver them. Iran has a uranium enrichment industry able to supply fuel for building a nuclear bomb and a developing parallel plutonium program.
He is also credited with getting Iran's first nuclear reactor built, up and running at Bushehr.
The Iranian president's burning ambition to destroy Israel comes not only because it is an anomaly for his dream empire but because it is also an outpost of the United States and the West in the Middle East. He believes that to force America's collapse, he must first be rid of Israel.
In the notorious speech of 2009, in which he said Israel must be "wiped off the map," the Iranian president explained that this would be stage one in the final confrontation with Western civilization.
His denial of the Holocaust is meant to curry favor with the Islamic faithful and also prepare world public opinion for the coming Holocaust. Ahmadinejad recently ordered anti-Semitic manifestations intensified in Tehran to the point that they now run level with the worst Nazi campaigns in Germany of the 1930s. Radical clerics and high regime officials have been entrusted with feeding this hate machine.
Yet Ahmadinejad is still not satisfied. He is still dreaming, say his close acquaintances, of doing away with all of Iran's surviving "democratic" institutions and installing a regime of the Revolutionary Guards Corps in which the clergy will have only a minor role.
Only once a year, does he take a week off from his frenzied labors; when he travels to New York for the UN General Assembly. There, too, even while he basks in worldwide attention, he never forgets to use this stage as a pulpit for propagating his messianic creed and aspirations for world domination.