Joel Rosenberg is the author of the new novel, “The Twelfth Imam.”
The New York Times best selling author of the political thrillers is also a communications strategists who has formerly worked with such figures as Rush Limbaugh and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Rosenberg recently agreed to answer 10 questions about his new novel and other topics of interest from The Daily Caller:
1. Why did you decide to write the book?
We are living on the brink of the apocalypse, but the world is asleep. Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said in July that he actually met with the Shia Islamic messiah, known as the Twelfth Imam. Few know that happened. Fewer still know what that means. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says his government’s mission is to hasten the appearance of the Twelfth Imam on earth. What’s so dangerous is that in the Shia Islamic eschatology – or End Times theology – of these two men, they believe that their God-given mission in life is to destroy Judeo-Christian civilization as we know it, in order to accelerate the arrival of their so-called messiah to earth. Given their feverish efforts to build nuclear weapons, this is very dangerous stuff. The problem is that most world leaders aren’t paying attention to the eschatology driving Iranian foreign policy. Most Americans aren’t aware of it either. We have a Farsi-speaking Hitler rising, and the world is doing nothing decisive to stop him.
Now, I’m a failed political consultant. But sometimes fiction has a way of capturing people’s imagination in a way that non-fiction doesn’t. Conservatives typically haven’t written much fiction – specifically political thrillers – over the years to educate, inspire and mobilize people on issues of great import, but we ought to. I want to take people on a spellbinding journey inside one of the darkest regimes in the world, the Iranian regime. I want to take people “inside the room,” as it were, as Iranian leaders plot their nuclear weapons strategy and plot the annihilation of Israel, which they call the “little Satan,” and the United States, which they call the “Great Satan.” Perhaps this novel, “The Twelfth Imam,” can play a small role in waking up a nation, a world, asleep at the switch.
2. Explain who the Twelfth Imam, or the Mahdi, is for those who may not know.
The Twelfth Imam was a real, flesh-and-blood person who lived during the ninth century AD. Like the eleven Shia religious leaders who went before him, he was an Arab male who, as a direct descendent of the founder of Islam, was thought to have been divinely chosen to be the spiritual guide and ultimate human authority of the Muslim people. His name was Muhammad Ibn Hasan Ibn Ali. It is generally believed by Shias that he was born in Samarra, Iraq, in AD 868, though few details of his brief life are certain or free from controversy.
Sunnis, for example, believe he was born later. Before he could reach an age of maturity, when he could teach and counsel the Muslim world as was believed to be his destiny, Ali vanished from human society. Some say he was four years old, while others say five and some say six. Some believe he fell into a well in Samarra but his body was never recovered. Others believe the Mahdi’s mother placed him in the well to prevent the evil rulers of the time from finding him, capturing him, and killing him — and that little Ali subsequently became supernaturally invisible. This is where the term “Hidden Imam” is derived, as Shias believe that Ali is not dead but has simply been hidden from the sight of mankind — Shias refer to this as “occultation” — until the End of Days, when Allah will reveal him once again.
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.
5. Let’s get serious: Do you believe the current Iranian regime is apocalyptic and would use a nuclear weapon against the United States or Israel if they were able to produce one?
Based on the End Times theology of the current Iranian regime, and their publicly stated intentions of annihilating the U.S. and Israel (which I documented in my non-fiction book last year, “Inside The Revolution”), I have absolutely no doubt that Tehran will use nuclear weapons to destroy Judeo-Christian civilization once they have such weapons. They may use them directly, and/or they may give such weapons to terror groups such as Hezbollah, al Qaeda, Hamas or others to be used against American and Israeli targets. Worse, how do you successfully negotiate with, deter or contain someone who believes it is his God-given mission in life to annihilate you in order to bring about his messiah?
6 . What’s your view on how to stop Iranian nuclear proliferation? Will sanctions work? Or covert operations? Or do you think that military strikes will be necessary?
Much tougher sanctions along the lines of a quarantine or blockade of Iran could bring the country economically to its knees and trigger a coup. But that might not be enough. What if the new leaders are equally aggressive? Covert operations are having some effect, such as the kidnapping of Iranian nuclear scientists, the persuasion of others to defect, and the computer virus that is attacking Iranian industrial computer systems at the moment. But we are fast running out of time. I’m praying for the peace of Jerusalem. I’m trying to mobilize millions of evangelical Christians to pray for peace as well. But not peace at any price. An End Times regime in Tehran with nuclear weapons is a worst case scenario.
7. Do you believe the Obama administration would ever launch military strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities?
The Obama administration is highly unlikely to use military force to stop Iran from getting the Bomb, and all Iranians know it. After all, the president is doing everything he can to pull U.S. forces out of Iraq and Afghanistan as rapidly as possible. Americans are growing increasingly uneasy with the president’s approach, and they are right to be concerned. He doesn’t understand the gravity of the threat of Radical Islam, and he is making us and our allies increasingly vulnerable to new and devastating attacks. NATO won’t lead. The EU won’t lead. The UN won’t lead. So who will?
All eyes are turning to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. I can tell you for a fact that Netanyahu doesn’t want war. He doesn’t seek it. He has supported sanctions and even the president’s efforts at engaging Iran diplomatically. He’s exhausting every option short of overt war. But I can also tell you for a fact that Netanyahu refuses to preside over a Second Holocaust. If the world doesn’t move decisively in late 2010 and 2011, I think we’re looking at a major war in the region in the next few years. It may be a nightmare, and set the whole region on fire. It might send oil prices skyrocketing, and anti-Semitism skyrocketing worldwide, as well. But what other choice would Netanyahu have, if the world does nothing to stop Khamenei and Ahmadinejad in the 21st century, as it did nothing to stop Hitler in the 20th century?
8. How did you get Rush Limbaugh to blurb your book? That is a big get. Did you have a conversation with him about your latest novel?
Rush is a friend. As you know, I served on his staff back in the 90s for two years. He has endorsed several of my books over the years, and interviewed me about them. I haven’t yet had a conversation about this one, but I’m grateful for support. I don’t deserve it, but I’m grateful!