Early signs of Iran claiming victory from the June 20 drone shooting emerged on Friday as Prayer Imams taunted the United States and demanded an "apology" from Washington.
Tehran's Friday Prayer Imam, Mohammad Javad Haj Ali Akbari has accused the United States of attacking oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
Speaking in his sermons in Tehran on June 21, Haj Ali Akbari threatened, "Unlike you, we are not secretive. If we are going to strike, we will strike in good time and will announce the attack."
Referring to the downing of a U.S. drone on Thursday, Tehran's Friday Prayers Imam warned the United States, "The Strait of Hormuz is a special part of our territory," adding that "If Iran is attacked, the strait will be turned into the graveyard of the aggressors."
He claimed that the United States has announced that it has made a mistake.
Meanwhile, Haj Ali Akbari warned the U.S. "Watch your behavior! We will not start a war. But if you start a war, you will not be able to finish it."
He also claimed that the downing of the U.S. drone sent a good message to the Iranian nation and what he called the regional resistance front. "This was a message about Iran's authority and security," he said.
Haj Ali Akbari, one of the youngest Friday Prayer Imams in Iran, called on the United States to apologize to the Iranian nation and be accountable for their aggression against Iran."
He also called on international organizations to investigate the case.
The Friday Prayer Imams are in fact representatives of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who are financed by his office. The contents of Friday Prayer sermons in various cities are dictated by two state bodies controlled by Khamenei's office, officially known as "The Policy-making Council for Friday Prayer Imams" and the "Friday Prayer Headquarters," both dominated by hardliner clerics loyal to Khamenei.
Other clerics leading Friday prayers all over Iran echoed the contents of the sermon in Tehran, while also praising Iranian armed forces for the attack on the unmanned aircraft.
Jalil Sharifinia, the Imam in Aradan, the birthplace of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said "The U.S. sent the drone to the Iranian airspace to make up for its frustration in the stand-off against Iran.
However, he maintained that U.S. threats against Iran will not bear any fruit.
Qorban Ali Safaipur, the Imam in northeastern Khorasan Province, said "downing such an expensive drone, shows that Iran has created an earthquake that has jolted the United States' authority."
He quoted unnamed "military experts in foreign countries" as having said that it was impossible to down this type of aircraft. However, he did not say where did he get his information from.
Meanwhile, the Friday Prayers Imam in Semnan, Mohammad Shahcheraghi, who is Ayatollah Khamenei's representative to the city, said the downing of the UAV showed that Iranian military forces are not scared by any superpower.
Speaking at President Hassan Rouhani's hometown, Semnan, Shahcheraghi said the event proved that Iran will stand against any aggression not only by America, but by any other country.
In a seemingly concerted development, none of the Friday Prayer Imams in Tehran pointed out international media reports about U.S. President Donald Trump's last minute decision to stop a possible strike on Friday morning local time.