8 questions with ‘Twelfth Imam’ author Joel Rosenberg

3.  What is the gist of your novel and why should we want to read it?

The Twelfth Imam is the first in a series of three new political thrillers I’m writing. It follows the life of the Shirazi family, who escape out of Iran during the Islamic Revolution in 1979. They find asylum in the U.S. and raise three sons. One of those sons, David, is deeply affected by the terrorist attacks on America on 9/11. Enraged, he decides to join the CIA, hunt down Osama bin Laden, and bring his head home in a box. But by the time he is ready to be deployed, the CIA decides to send him not to Afghanistan or Pakistan but into Iran. His mission is to find previously unknown nuclear weapons sites and help the CIA sabotage them to keep Iran from getting the Bomb, and to keep the Israelis from launching a preemptive attack. Once he gets inside Iran, however, events start taking a bizarre and unnatural twist. Shirazi starts hearing strange rumors of an Islamic messiah already on the planet and about to reveal himself. What’s more, he begins to learn of how the Iranian regime’s obsession with the Twelfth Imam is a recipe for wars of annihilation against Israel, and then against the U.S.

4. Is it true that as mayor of Tehran, current Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had a grand avenue built in anticipation of the Mahdi’s return?

Ahmadinejad campaigned for mayor promising to prepare the way for the coming of the Twelfth Imam, but most of his significant accomplishments occurred after coming to power as president in the summer of 2005. He has spent millions to build roads leading to the Jamkaran Mosque, where the Twelfth Imam reportedly once appeared to a farmer and told him to build a mosque and intimated that he might return there one day to a well in the courtyard. Not all Shias believe this so-called messiah will return there, but Ahmadinejad does. As a result, millions of Shias have visited the mosque and like to write prayers and toss them down the well, hoping they are heard and answered.