Late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died of cancer this week, urged the Shiite Muslims' 12th Imam, Mahdi, to return to Earth sooner than prophesied, as revealed in a video released by Rajanews, a media outlet of Iran's ruling Islamic regime.
Shiites believe Mahdi, the last Islamic messiah, will only come back to Earth after a great conflagration engulfs the Middle East, setting the stage for global Armageddon. When Mahdi returns, Shiites believe, Jesus Christ will be at his side. Chavez was a Catholic.
Rajanews praised Chavez as a serious world leader who supported the Palestinian cause despite the absence of some Arab leaders. Chavez said in the video that global enmity "is located in Gaza" and that the fight for Gaza and the Palestinian cause "is beneficial for Venezuela, too."
Chavez, in a meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian National Authority, talked of his belief in the Coming of Mahdi, according to the video, and said, "The ultimate war of them all is the war in Gaza."
In the video, which is not dated, but appears to have been captured during a signing of agreements at the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Nov. 27, 2009, Chavez told his audience "Quds (Jerusalem) is a holy place for all of us Christians. I spoke with (Iranian President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad about the day that Islam's Quran says both (Mahdi and Christ) will return. Jesus, holding hands with the 12th Imam, Mahdi. ... Then peace will come upon the world. I tell Christ and Mahdi to come sooner, rush now, come sooner ... because we witness the threats posed to the world, my God!"
Chavez served as president of Venezuela from 1999 until his death on March 5. He was diagnosed with cancer, undergoing surgery and chemotherapy in Cuba in 2011 and another operation in 2012. Although he had hoped to have recovered from his illness, he announced in December that he needed further cancer surgery in Cuba.
Iranian media on Thursday blamed the United States for Chavez's death as part of a plot to kill off several Latin American leaders, who also have been stricken with cancer.
Ahmadinejad, who attended Chavez's memorial service in Caracas Friday, implied in a letter of condolence to the interim president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, that Chavez would return alongside of Jesus.
"I have no doubt that he will return alongside all the righteous and Jesus," Ahmadinejad wrote, "and the only remainder of the righteous generation, the complete human being, will come and help the nations with the establishment of peace, complete justice, kindness and evolvement."
Sources in Iran report many Iranians celebrated Chavez's death and were hopeful, with him gone and with Syrian President Bashar Assad on the verge of collapse, the clerical regime in Iran could be next.