Hours after Donald Trump tweeted a threat to target ‘52 Iranian sites’, some of them ‘at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture’, Cockburn met an Iranian exile source at the Moby Dick House of Kabob, Connecticut Avenue, Washington, DC. The source took Cockburn’s order and then slipped a tiny piece of paper no bigger than a grain of rice into Cockburn’s baghali polo. As baghali polo is a rice dish, Cockburn didn’t know this until he’d eaten it. It took 24 hours to recover the message. When Cockburn read it, he realized that he was holding the president’s target list.
The first five targets are listed here. Cockburn will release another five targets every week until the Pentagon grant him an open line of credit at the Moby Dick.
1. The Imam Mosque, Isfahan
This gem of Savafid architecture has dominated the south side of Isfahan’s Nagsh-e Jahan Square since the early 1600s. Originally named the Shah Mosque, in 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini renamed it the Imam Mosque in honor of David Bowie’s wife. Apart from being a center of Shia radicalization, the mosque’s location makes impossible the construction of a hotel and casino in the southeastern corner of the square.
2. Mr Ali’s Male Fashions, Qom
CIA and Mossad spies have been watching this site closely for years. Just outside Qom lies the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant, where the mullahs secretly prepared to enrich uranium before the site’s exposure in 2009. Foreign intelligence services believe that Mr Ali’s Male Fashions is where Qom’s nuclear engineers buy their jumpsuits. His store is also believed to have supplied Hezbollah with itchy black nylon pajamas for night-fighting, and the safari-style shirts worn by Houthi insurgents in Yemen. Destroying Mr Ali’s stock, none of which has been renewed since 1979, will be a severe blow to the mullahs’ nuclear program.
3. The Golestan Palace, Tehran
One of 22 UNESCO world heritage sites in Iran and once the home of the shahs, the Golestan Palace is a Qajar-era masterpiece. Its collection of 18th- and 19th-century European gifts will shortly be blown to smithereens along with its world-beating collection of Iranian craftworks from the late Kushner era. It is widely believed that Donald Trump wishes to destroy this priceless shrine to human creativity out of pure malice, but the Pentagon insists that there is no reason.
4. World of Kabob, Street of the Martyrs, Shiraz
Shortly before the Iranian Revolution, a young Californian named Mike Pompeo backpacked his way across Central Asia. A bout of food-poisoning delayed him in a fly-blown hostel in Shiraz and prevented him from fulfilling his long-held ambition to attend the Running of the Goat in Herat, Afghanistan. Pompeo has never forgiven the man who prepared the salad at World of Kabob. Now secretary of defense, he is believed to have personally added this notorious site of Shia radicalism to the US hitlist.
5. The Imam Reza shrine, Mashhad
Established in the year 818, the largest sacred space in the world is full of striking architecture and is best viewed either at dawn from the east gate or through a bombsight from 35,000 feet. Targets of military interest in the shrine complex include a mosque, a library, four seminaries, a cemetery, a university, a dining hall for pilgrims and the remains of Imam Reza, who as everyone knows is the eighth Imam of the Imaniyyah Shi’ites. The shrine has been moved up the US target list and is now just ahead of the Whole Foods Market in the Grand Bazaar of Tehran. The Pentagon is now trying to establish whether Whole Foods Market has any cultural value.