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U.S. hikers Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal attend their trial at the Tehran Revolutionary Court, Iran. (AP Images/Press TV)

Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were sentenced to eight years in an Iranian prison on charges of espionage over the weekend. Terms like “mockery of justice” are floating around, but radical Islam watchers are not surprised.

“The conduct of this trial has quite simply made a mockery of justice. There does not appear to be any substance to the allegations that Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal are spies,” says Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director.

“The way this case has been handled from the outset strongly suggests that they are being held as a bargaining chip to allow Iran to obtain unspecified concessions from the U.S. government,” Smart continued.

Indeed, no evidence to suggest the men were conducting espionage is known to have been presented in court. The two men, who deny the charges, are planning to appeal the sentence in 20 days, according to their lawyer, Massoud Shafi'e. The men have already spent two years in Tehran’s Evin Prison. During that time, they have seen their family only once.

Cultural apologist Dr. Jim Denison says the conviction and sentencing should give Americans pause as Tehran’s regime—which is spurred by a radical, apocalyptic theology that insists on Israel's destruction—continues to target the West 10 years after 9/11. That’s because President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, are "Twelvers.”

Twelvers are adherents of Shiite Islam's largest branch. They believe a Messiah-like figure, the Mahdi ("guided one"), will arise at history's end to rule the world for Islam. Among the beliefs of many Twelvers: Israel and America—the "little Satan" and "Great Satan," respectively—must be attacked to bring about the Mahdi's arrival. This figure would then show up, believers contend, to protect the Muslim world from Western reprisal. Such beliefs, Denison reminds readers, explain Ahmadinejad's declaration in 2005 that Israel must be "wiped off the map."

"Are Iran's leaders using the two American hikers and other foreign detainees to incite their people against the West?" asks Denison, author of Radical Islam. "Did they charge our citizens with espionage so they could claim the West is attacking Islam? Since the Koran requires Muslims to defend Islam (Quran 2:190), this accusation would legitimize an attack against Israel and the West out of obedience to Islam's holy book."

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