Early this morning a British-educated Iranian colleague I've known for 20 years messaged me on Facebook. I won't mention his name.
He's no friend of the Iranian regime, but not a staunch enemy of it either (rare among Iranian expatriates), which is one reason why I found him to be a fruitful research collaborator back in the day and have found his insights invaluable over the years.
But something seems to have changed. Here is the transcript (my colleague's messages in red) , with annotations:
Last night we bitch slapped you
Happy New Year!
Can you dial back the "we" bit a little, buddy?
We'll be taking revenge for decades
I guess not. How disconcerting.
Qassem Soleimani was 1000 times the man of your most highly decorated generals
your culture can never produce men like him
They're not MY generals ...
US never learns
it is astounding
last time you messed with us we blew up your marines in Beirut and sent you packing
only this time its much worse
His punctuation is as terrible as ever. Is he just messing with me?
Really? Cause the little pat last night was hardly the bitch slap I was anticipating.
80 US troops were killed
i was the first to announce it here in FB
the US will deny it of course
What's he talking about? I'd better check Google News. Nope, still no U.S. casualties reported from the Iranian missile strikes in Iraq last night. Since when is he taking Iranian government claims at face value? I'll try to be diplomatic.
I'm clearly not up to date.
coz they dont want to escalate
US will never go to war with us lol
Are you really laughing out loud?
more than that
i am personally committed to revenge
In writing, yes?
go and give it to FBI
That's a relief.
Good to hear. Tell all your Iranian friends that the pen is mightier than the sword.
If you had any connection to US military, security, government etc I 'd kill you with my bare hands
i am more than capable of it
you are lucky you don't
Ok, this is creepy. Let's try some more self-deprecating humor.
I forgot about that photo of you in the gym you posted a few years back. I think you would need just one bare hand.
Sadly there are no Americans where I am living now
we kicked you all out 40 years ago lol
No, you kept several dozen a bit longer.
we should have killed them
Coulda, shoulda, woulda ...
You can laugh now
I would have added "lol" if I were laughing now.
He abruptly terminated the conversation after this. I'm still not entirely sure what to make of it. Some of it, like a lot of our text banter over the years, was surely tongue-in-cheek. But the anger was real. If the Trump administration's killing of Qassem Soleimani has made men like him this angry, I can't help but wonder if it may turn out to have been a mistake.
Gary C. Gambill is general editor at the Middle East Forum. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.