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Iranian Alert -- December 19, 2003 -- IRAN LIVE THREAD
The Iranian Student Movement Up To The Minute Reports ^ | 12.19.2003 | DoctorZin

Posted on 12/19/2003 12:02:21 AM PST by DoctorZIn

The US media almost entirely ignores news regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran. As Tony Snow of the Fox News Network has put it, “this is probably the most under-reported news story of the year.” But most American’s are unaware that the Islamic Republic of Iran is NOT supported by the masses of Iranians today. Modern Iranians are among the most pro-American in the Middle East.

There is a popular revolt against the Iranian regime brewing in Iran today. Starting June 10th of this year, Iranians have begun taking to the streets to express their desire for a regime change. Most want to replace the regime with a secular democracy. Many even want the US to over throw their government.

The regime is working hard to keep the news about the protest movement in Iran from being reported. Unfortunately, the regime has successfully prohibited western news reporters from covering the demonstrations. The voices of discontent within Iran are sometime murdered, more often imprisoned. Still the people continue to take to the streets to demonstrate against the regime.

In support of this revolt, Iranians in America have been broadcasting news stories by satellite into Iran. This 21st century news link has greatly encouraged these protests. The regime has been attempting to jam the signals, and locate the satellite dishes. Still the people violate the law and listen to these broadcasts. Iranians also use the Internet and the regime attempts to block their access to news against the regime. In spite of this, many Iranians inside of Iran read these posts daily to keep informed of the events in their own country.

This daily thread contains nearly all of the English news reports on Iran. It is thorough. If you follow this thread you will witness, I believe, the transformation of a nation. This daily thread provides a central place where those interested in the events in Iran can find the best news and commentary. The news stories and commentary will from time to time include material from the regime itself. But if you read the post you will discover for yourself, the real story of what is occurring in Iran and its effects on the war on terror.

I am not of Iranian heritage. I am an American committed to supporting the efforts of those in Iran seeking to replace their government with a secular democracy. I am in contact with leaders of the Iranian community here in the United States and in Iran itself.

If you read the daily posts you will gain a better understanding of the US war on terrorism, the Middle East and why we need to support a change of regime in Iran. Feel free to ask your questions and post news stories you discover in the weeks to come.

If all goes well Iran will be free soon and I am convinced become a major ally in the war on terrorism. The regime will fall. Iran will be free. It is just a matter of time.


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: iaea; iran; iranianalert; protests; southasia; studentmovement; studentprotest
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Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

"If you want on or off this Iran ping list, Freepmail DoctorZin”

1 posted on 12/19/2003 12:02:22 AM PST by DoctorZIn
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

"If you want on or off this Iran ping list, Freepmail DoctorZin”

2 posted on 12/19/2003 12:05:08 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn

by Amir Taheri
New York Post

December 18, 2003 -- WHEN the Nazi leaders were captured by allied troops at the end of the Second World War, Winston Churchill knew what had to be done. "Hang the dogs," he told his generals in Germany.

But that was not to be. Churchill was soon persuaded that it was better to try the Nazis and let the world learn about their crimes. That led to the Nuremberg trials - which, in hindsight, could be regarded as the legal prolongation of the Second World War. Churchill, an amateur historian, might have realized the importance of a trial in shaping the narrative of a great European tragedy.

The Nuremberg trials were conducted in accordance with the best traditions of Anglo-Saxon law plus a great deal of innovation. The Nazis received as fair a hearing as they might have expected. And, in the end, only a few were sentenced to be hanged.

Nevertheless, the trials provided a limited narrative of the great tragedy. The mass murder of millions of Jews, gypsies and other "sub-humans," the wholesale executions of democrats, socialists and communists, and the burning and looting of more than a dozen European countries conquered by the Nazis were not revealed in their full horror.

Because the concept of crimes against humanity was still in its infancy, the Nazi leaders were treated as war prisoners, a status that bestowed on them a measure of dignity that they did not deserve.

The arrest of Saddam Hussein, the deposed Iraqi tyrant, has put Nuremberg back into the news. Some voices, mainly in those European countries that opposed the liberation of Iraq, have already denounced the idea of a Nuremberg-style trial for the fallen leader. They warn against subjecting Saddam to "the victor's justice."

That position, as in many other cases, is based on a hatred of America and/or President Bush and has little to do with the issue of how best to deal with Saddam. It is important not to allow that hatred to turn the issue of justice for Saddam into a fresh excuse for global polemics that have nothing to do with Iraq.

Attempts at transforming Saddam from a mass murderer into a victim are not limited to so-called "liberal" circles in Europe. The remnants of bankrupt pan-Arabism are also beating their chests about his supposedly "humiliating treatment" by the GIs who found him in his hole.

As always, the claim is that any trial of Saddam either by the Iraqis or by a military tribunal controlled by the U.S.-led coalition would lead to "an explosion of the "Arab street" or a "clash of civilisations" between Islam and the West.

The truth is that very few nostalgics of pan-Arabism, and even fewer Muslims, might regard Saddam, known to his people as "The Vampire," as a representative either of Arab culture or of Islam.

The first thing to do is to establish Saddam's status. The Americans once again shot themselves in the foot when they declared him a prisoner of war, a statement which they later tried to retract.

Should Saddam be treated as a war prisoner? The considered answer is: No.

The state of war came to an end when the Iraqi generals signed the instrument of surrender in Mosul on 28 April. After that, Saddam, already in hiding, was a fugitive. Any involvement he may have had in subsequent attacks against the Coalition and Iraqi civilian targets would count as acts not of war but of terrorism.

The charges that might be brought against Saddam in the context of the recent war would amount to nothing compared to his recorddating back to 1959.

Any jurist would know that the balance of argument is in favor of having Saddam tried by those who suffered most from him, that is to say the people of Iraq.

Yet some self-styled Western democrats and Arab nationalists are campaigning to prevent his trial in Iraq.

The same people never raised their voice when Saddam was gassing the Iraqis, burning their villages and plundering their national treasure. They now demand for Saddam the justice they never demanded for the people of Iraq when he was in power. Judging by their pronouncement, most of them don't even think that Saddam should be tried, because they believe that his overthrow was illegal in the first place.

Others, like U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, have an even more bizarre position. On the one hand, they call for an immediate transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqis. On the other hand, they claim that Iraq is not competent to try its fallen leader.

Those who still regret Saddam's demise are suggesting two alternatives to his trial by Iraqis in Iraq. The first is the International Criminal Court (ICC), which began work at The Hague last year.

But the ICC is not the proper authority to try Saddam, for two reasons:

* It has no retroactive jurisdiction, and only can try crimes committed since its July 1, 2002, birth. And Saddam committed most of his crimes long before that date.

* Under the new court's own rules, a case can be tried there only if the courts of the nation directly concerned refuse to do so. In other words, the ICC could try Saddam if Iraq did not. A further complication: Iraq is not a member of the ICC. Thus there is no legal mechanism for any Iraqi authority to hand Saddam over to the ICC.

The second option from Saddam's apologists is his trial by an international tribunal, like those for ex-Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Mention is often made of the case of Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian ex-dictator tried by a special tribunal at The Hague.

Here, too, the argument holds no water. Milosevic is being tried by a U.N. tribunal because Serbia did not want to try him. Also, the charges cover his crimes against Bosnians, Croats and Kosovars, not the Serbian people. Saddam's prime victims were the peoples of Iraq.

In any case, setting up a special tribunal would require the approval of the U.N. Security Council. But how could Russia, China and France, veto-holding powers that still refuse to extend full recognition to the Iraq Governing Council, vote to set up a tribunal to try a man whom, technically speaking, they still regard as Iraq's de jure president?

Helped by their allies, the people of Iraq could and should organize a proper trial for Saddam. They should ignore the views of those who refused to help them liberate themselves from one of the most murderous regimes in modern history.

The debate that has just begun over what to do with Saddam is the continuation of the political and diplomatic battles that started almost two years ago when the idea of liberating Iraq was seriously raised in Washington.

The same characters who did not wish to see Saddam overthrown are now trying to get him out of Iraq, give him a platform from which he can attack America and make sure that he lives a long life in a Dutch prison-villa where he could play backgammon with Milosevic.


3 posted on 12/19/2003 12:09:06 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Israel warned Iran approaching 'point of no return' with nukes

Thursday, December 18, 200

HERZLIYA, Israel — The government of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been urged to halt Iran's nuclear weapons program.

A senior Israeli parliamentarian regarded as a leading expert on Iran's strategic programs has warned the Sharon government that it cannot rely on the United States to stop Teheran's nuclear weapons project. The parliamentarian said Iran will achieve independent nuclear weapons capability over the next year.

"If we don't act by ourselves, then others won't do anything," Knesset member Ephraim Sneh told a strategic conference in Herzliya on Tuesday. "They will only do something if they know that we will act, providing no other alternative. This moment is approaching," Middle East Newsline reported.

Sneh, a minister in previous Israeli governments, warned of Iran's nuclear capability as early as 1993 and helped draft policy that called for U.S. pressure to stop Russian technology to Teheran. He is a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs Committee, which receives frequent intelligence briefings on Iran's nuclear weapons program.

"In 2004, or at the latest 2005, Iran will arrive at the point of no-return for nuclear weapons," Sneh, echoing an assessment by Israel's intelligence community, said. "This means that it will no longer require foreign assistance to produce a nuclear weapon."

Sneh warned that an Iranian nuclear bomb will destroy the fabric of Israeli society. He said Israel's government will be intimidated by an Iranian atomic bomb and that the nation's elite will flee to avoid an Iranian nuclear attack.

"People will leave here and not come back if they think Iran could use such weapons," Sneh said. "How would a government in Jerusalem confront nuclear weapons against an irrational regime. We will be limited in every way."

Israeli officials said Sneh's remarks reflects those of the nation's intelligence community. They said Israel has urged the United States to stop Iran's nuclear program during 2004 before Teheran's reaches indigenous nuclear capability.

But U.S. analysts who appeared with Sneh during a discussion of Iran frowned on a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. They said the Bush administration had little stomach for another military confrontation amid the campaign to stabilize Iraq.

Patrick Clawson, head of research at the Washington Institute, said the United States can delay Iran's nuclear weapons program by between two and 10 years with a military intervention. Clawson said a U.S. assassination campaign against leading Iranian scientists could be more effective than an air strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.

"It could be what Israel did in Egypt in the 1960s, making certain that key people in meet an untimely accident."
4 posted on 12/19/2003 12:10:59 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran's Rafsanjani Says Nuclear Deal Foils U.S. Plot

December 19, 2003

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said on Friday by signing up to U.N. snap nuclear checks of its nuclear facilities, Iran showed its atomic ambitions were entirely peaceful.
"They (the U.S.) wanted to accuse Iran of having nuclear weapons, but this has foiled their plots," the influential ex-president told worshippers at Friday prayers in Tehran, broadcast live on state radio.

The United States has said Iran's nuclear program is a smokescreen for a building atomic weapons.

Rafsanjani said Iran, which has always said its nuclear scientists are working on ways to meet booming electricity demand, now expected technical assistance with its atomic program.

On Thursday, Iran signed an agreement at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna allowing the U.N. nuclear watchdog to conduct snap inspections across its territory.

The signature to the Additional Protocol to the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) comes nearly 18 months after an exiled Iranian opposition group sparked an international crisis by saying Tehran was hiding several large nuclear facilities. The allegations proved to be true.

Rafsanjani cautioned that full approval for the signature would take time. It must be sent to parliament as a bill then approved by the Guardian Council.

Analysts say Iran's reformist government would never have embarked on the deal without the green light from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who has the last word on all state matters.

Rafsanjani heads the powerful Expediency Council that arbitrates between the predominantly reformist parliament and the 12-member hardline supervisory body, the Guardian Coucil.
5 posted on 12/19/2003 7:16:52 AM PST by F14 Pilot (A wise man changes his mind, a fool never does.)
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To: DoctorZIn
Freeh Links Iran To Khobar Bombing

December 19, 2003
The Washington Post
Carol D. Leonnig

Former FBI director Louis Freeh testified yesterday that he believed there was "overwhelming evidence" that senior Iranian government officials financed and directed the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia.

Freeh testified as a key witness on behalf of the families of 12 Americans killed in the bombing, who are suing the government of Iran. The former director took particular interest in the investigation into the bombing, traveling to Saudi Arabia soon after the June 25, 1996, explosion. The bombing ripped a dormitory in half and killed 19 Air Force servicemen and servicewomen.

Freeh's testimony came at a fragile stage in the civil trial, which is in its third week and had been set to end today. U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson said last week she might dismiss the suit if the plaintiffs could not produce Freeh and his former FBI counterterrorism chief, Dale Watson, the other critical witness in the case. Neither man got clearance from the Justice Department to testify until late last Friday night.

Freeh told Robinson he was "heavily involved" in the Khobar investigation, and had traveled to the bomb site hours after the explosion. He said he spent nearly two years trying to persuade Saudi diplomats to let FBI agents interview six Saudi citizens whom the Saudi government considered the bombing's perpetrators, and he ultimately succeeded.

"They admitted they were members of Saudi Hezbollah," Freeh said. "They admitted complicity in the act. And they implicated senior Iranian officials in the funding and planning of the attack."

Robinson repeatedly questioned what led Freeh to his conclusion that Iran was responsible, other than the confessions of six Saudis.

Freeh responded that other witnesses and evidence corroborated their stories. He said they also named leaders in the Iranian military and information agency who helped select the target site and pay for the group's training and explosives.

Outside the courtroom, Freeh said in a brief interview that he rejects recent theories that al Qaeda may have had a role in the Khobar Towers attack. He praised top Saudi officials for their cooperation, which led to indictments in 2001 and an ongoing criminal case against 13 Saudis and one Lebanese man.
6 posted on 12/19/2003 8:10:01 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Has Not Demanded "One Cent" For War Reparations

December 17, 2003
Kayhan (London)
Nazenin Ansari

London -- Jalal Talabani, Member of Iraq's Interim Governing Council is adamant that the regime in Tehran has not brought up the issue of billions of dollars of war reparations owed to Iran for Saddam Hussein's eight-year war during the 1980s despite being most generous on post-war efforts to rebuild Iraq.

In response to a question posed by Kayhan (London) in regards to repayment of war reparation Talabani said "Iran didn't ask for one cent of us, on the contrary they provided huge assistance for the reconstruction of Iraq. They offered a lot of help for reconstruction and to re-operate the factories, build cities and towns, many issues. They did not discuss with us, in any of our meetings, or in any of the Ministries, the subject of the reparations."

Talabani had led a delegation of seven ministers to Tehran last week and had discussions with their Iranian counterparts including President Khatami and Foreign Minister Kharazzi. Several agreements on banking, border, and housing affairs as well as in road and transportation, communication, and oil sectors were signed between the two sides

The press conference was given by Jack Straw in London with leaders of the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC), headed by the current chairman Seyyed Abdel- Aziz al-Hakim.

Seyyed Hakim said that Iran deserved reparations arising out of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, but left open whether payment would be forthcoming. He said that Iraq had a responsibility to respect a Security Council resolution regarding Iranian compensation for Saddam's 1980-88 war but suggested that there were the current difficulties in the country's ability to pay. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim said further discussion was needed to decide what, if anything Iraq would pay.
7 posted on 12/19/2003 8:11:01 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
EU to Press for Free Elections in Iran without the Guardian Council?

December 17, 2003
Nazenin Ansari
Kayhan (London)

London -- Jack Straw indicated that Britain might be willing to support measures to ensure that elections in Iran would take place without the supervisory role of the Guardian Council.

On Monday French president Jacques Chirac said he is ready to mobilize Europeans to support the reforms in Iran during a meeting with Shirin Ebadi according to Agence France Press quoting a source from Elysee.

According to AFP, Mrs. Ebadi requested that the European Union use its influence with the regime in Iran to pressure the regime in Tehran to support a bill aimed at reforming the system of selection of the candidates for the Parliamentary elections scheduled for 20th February 2004.

In response to a question at a press conference with leaders of the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC), that whether Britain would support free elections in Iran without the vetting of the Guardian Council, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said, "our position is universal, we wish to see free and fair elections in all countries across the world."
8 posted on 12/19/2003 8:12:17 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
EU to Press for Free Elections in Iran without the Guardian Council?

December 17, 2003
Nazenin Ansari
Kayhan (London)
9 posted on 12/19/2003 8:13:09 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
"West Must Help Iran Develop Nuclear Power"

December 19, 2003

TEHRAN -- Influential former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani challenged Western powers Friday to make good on their obligations and help his country develop its nuclear power industry.

Rafsanjani was speaking a day after Iran signed a protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which allows for snap inspections of Tehran's nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"The ball is now in the (Westerners') court," he said. "We have a long time until the definitive adoption of the additional protocol" by the Iranian parliament. "If the other countries also keep to their commitments, the process that is underway will succeed."

Rafsanjani was insisting that, in exchange for signing the protocol and for steps it has taken in recent months to shed light on its nuclear program, Western countries help it "by furnishing the technology necessary" for developing civilian atomic energy.

"But if they want to trick us, to profit from the situation or to create a climate of menace and fear, they will get nothing," he warned in a sermon preached at Friday prayers and broadcast by state radio.

"I hope that the leaders of the world will have the intelligence to understand that it is the interests of the region and of the world for them to fulfill their commitments."

The protocol obliges signatory countries to provide the IAEA with much more precise information about their nuclear activities than is required under the

And it authorizes the IAEA to carry out more intrusive inspections of nuclear facilities.

Under the agreement, states commit to giving IAEA inspectors information about, and short-notice access to, all parts of their nuclear fuel cycle.

They must also offer access to any location where nuclear material is or may be present, and the IAEA may give as little as two hours' notice before it visits a site.

The United States and other Western countries suspect that Iran has been using its civil atomic energy program as a cover to develop nuclear weapons, something Tehran roundly denies.
10 posted on 12/19/2003 8:14:47 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran and Human Rights: Talk Is Cheap

December 18, 2003
Los Angeles Times
Elahé Sharifpour-Hicks

Three years ago, when President Mohammad Khatami addressed the United Nations, many believed that this forward-looking reformist leader would restore Iran's fractured relationships with the rest of the world and usher in a new era of understanding between the Muslim world and the West. Instead, he spoke in platitudes, calling Islam a religion of peace, reminding listeners of Iran's great humanistic civilization and avoiding any acknowledgment that Iran had fallen far short of these high ideals in its recent history.

Since then, relations have only gotten worse. The expected "dialogue of civilizations" collapsed in the rubble of the World Trade Center, and not long afterward President Bush declared Iran part of the "axis of evil."

Alarmed by the polarization between the West and the Muslim world, the judges of the Nobel Peace Prize chose Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian human rights lawyer, as this year's Nobel peace laureate because she represents what it called a "reformed Islam" that sees Islam and human rights in harmony.

The symbolic power of this choice cannot be denied. The struggles for human rights of courageous men and women in Muslim societies throughout the Middle East and Asia are worthy of recognition, and the fact that Ebadi is from Iran, where the radical force of modern political Islam first came to international attention during the 1979 revolution, only adds to its impact.

As a woman, Ebadi embodies a further important message: She is a symbol of liberation and hope to the oppressed, faceless half of so many Muslim societies in which the rights of women are systematically circumscribed.

Weighted with all this expectation, it is perhaps not surprising that Ebadi's Nobel lecture was an anticlimax, but it was also another missed opportunity for those who long for the shadow of repression to be lifted from Iran. The lecture read as if it could have been delivered by an Iranian government official. While paying lip service to the values of human rights, she cited as examples of violations the detainees held by the United States in Guantanamo Bay and the plight of the Palestinians.

Listeners had no way of knowing that Ebadi was speaking as a representative of a human rights movement in a nation where tens of thousands were executed after grossly unfair political trials two decades ago, where arbitrary detention is commonplace and religious persecution is institutionalized.

Where were the references to the student demonstrators who disappeared in July 1999 and this summer? Why was there no reference to the imprisoned 70-year-old husband of her lifelong colleague, Mehrangiz Kar? Why no reference to Iranian Jews jailed for their religious beliefs or to the case of two Bahais sentenced in 1989, initially to death, and imprisoned since for practicing their faith?

Instead of a critique or an explanation of Iran's human rights calamities, the lecture was a recitation of Iranian and Muslim human rights achievements, with some politically correct America- and Israel-bashing presumably thrown in for the benefit of the European audience. Without denying the value of Iran's cultural heritage, one would have hoped for some frank acknowledgment that something has gone very wrong in Iran, and in many other parts of the Muslim world, in recent decades.

It misses the point to proclaim, as Ebadi and the Nobel judges did, that Islam is compatible with human rights. Of course it is, if Muslims choose to make it so. The problem is that the government of Iran cynically exploits Islam to legitimize its authoritarian rule and to discredit those who dare to challenge it.

By emphasizing text-based arguments for Islam's compatibility with human rights, human rights advocates play into the hands of the conservative clerical leadership in Iran.

It is beyond question that certain legally sanctioned practices of the Iranian government, which it justifies by reference to Islamic law, are violations of international human rights law. Take, for example, the denial of the right to child custody for divorced Iranian women. Or the arbitrary detention of a prominent dissident, journalist Akbar Ganji, who is accused of "insulting Islam" for exposing the involvement of government leaders in political assassination plots.

If human rights and democracy are to flourish in Iran and the Muslim world, as Ebadi expressed the hope that they would, then Iranian reform leaders, be they presidents or human rights lawyers, must show greater candor when they are on the global stage and, indeed, wherever they go.

Merely repeating that Islam and human rights are not contradictory does not bring about progress. At worst, it provides another opportunity for Iran's leaders to evade accountability for their violations of human rights by agreeing in theory while continuing to violate rights in practice.

Elahé Sharifpour-Hicks worked as the Iran researcher for Human Rights Watch from January 1994 to June 2003. The views here are her own.
11 posted on 12/19/2003 8:17:40 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Conspiracy Theories Surrounding Saddam's Capture

December 19, 2003
Middle East Media Research Institute
Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli

Almost every calamity that adversely affects the Arab world prompts conspiracy theories that are quickly woven into intricate shapes and patterns, to demonstrate innocence and blame others for the calamity.

In recent times this was demonstrated by conspiracy theories surrounding the September 11th attack and the terrorist attacks inside Saudi Arabia. The capture of Saddam Hussein served as yet another new cause celebre generating, to paraphrase Saddam's own words, 'the mother of all conspiracies.'

The origins of conspiracies in Arab history is traced in the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, by columnist Mushari Al-Dhayidi, to the time of the third Muslim Caliph Othman bin 'Affan, whose murder in the seventh century has been subject to numerous conspiracy theories over the centuries. According to Al-Dhayidi, this historical event indicates "the spread of the conspiratorial nerve which attacks everything, including the minds of historians who are supposed to carry out precise scientific studies rather than the spreading of myths or even their creation, if necessary, as it is the case of [tens] of alleged historical conspiracies which are yet to be uncovered." Al- Dhayidi mentions the myths that the Israeli Mossad or the C.I.A was responsible for September 11; that there was a special American military unit that was responsible for the bombing of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon to allow President Bush to carry out his designs against the Muslim world; and that America was responsible for the bombings in Riyadh, as evidenced by their warning that such an attack was forthcoming. Another conspiracy deals with Osama bin Laden's alleged treatment in a hospital under the supervision of the C.I.A., because he operates on its behalf. [1]

Conspiracies Regarding the Capture of Saddam

No sooner than Saddam had been captured, and the manner in which he was captured, than conspiracy theories have found their way to the Arab media. His supporters in Iraq and in the Arab world were shocked to see that Saddam, who they were led to believe for decades was "the knight of knights, courageous and gallant," appeared on television screens meek, defeated, and humiliated, without putting up a fight as his two sons and teenager grandson had done against enormous odds.

A Conspiracy Theory about the Drugging of Saddam

Saddam's sister, Nawal Ibrahim Al-Hassan, speaking on the phone with Al-Quds Al-Arabi from an unidentified Arab capital, was the first to raise the conspiracy of drugging. She said her brother "could not have surrendered in this fashion unless he was subjected to anesthetization or nerve gas that has paralyzed his movements." She added: "If he were in full command of his mental capacity he would have resisted to [the] death. He is not one of the people who would surrender in such a disgraceful manner." [2]

Saddam's eldest daughter, Raghad, echoed similar sentiments. In an interview with Al-Arabiyya TV, Raghdad said: "It is clear to everybody that our father was drugged… when they described to me the details of his condition, I said to them it is impossible. He has to be drugged." [3]

A Conspiracy Theory Involving President Bush's Interests

The Saudi daily Al-Riyadh believes that it is evident that there was a conspiracy. It wrote: "… it can be thought that Saddam was in the hands of the Americans, and that his public exposure was a show produced with the aim of neutralizing the explosive situation, so that it would be possible to ease the emotional and military pressure by the American forces and give new momentum to the American president just when he needs this kind of event…" [4]

A Conspiracy Theory Involving Saddam's Second Wife

The Saudi daily Okaz theorizes that Saddam's second wife, Samira Al-Shahbandar, who lives in Lebanon under a false identity with Saddam's only surviving son, Ali, may have been the source of information which led to Saddam's capture. "It is possible," writes Okaz, that "for delivering the head of her husband she will receive the award of $25 million," offered by the U.S. for information leading to Saddam's arrest or killing." [5]

Okaz's theory is allegedly supported by an interview with Samira Al-Shahbanar which fortuitously appeared in the Sunday Times of London on December 14 and appeared the subsequent day in the London-based Arabic daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat . [6] According to Al-Shabandar, Saddam has been in touch with her via phone approximately once per week. Okaz suspects that the conversations were tapped by the U.S. intelligence, and said that the last conversation was prolonged by Al-Shahbandar to give the Americans added time to pinpoint Saddam's hiding place. [7]

A Conspiracy Theory that Saddam was an American Agent

An editorial in the Iraqi daily Al-Shira' titled: "The Servant has Fallen in the Master's Cage" surveys Saddam's policies from 1963 until his capture, and suggests that he implemented these policies at the behest of his American masters. According to the newspaper, Saddam waged the war against Iran in 1980 to extricate the U.S. from its difficulties with Iran. The occupation of Kuwait in 1990 gave America and Israel "everything they were dreaming and not dreaming of," including elimination of the Palestinian problem, deepening the American presence in the Gulf to ensure American control over the sources of Arab oil, allowing Israel to penetrate Arab capital, and eliminating the regional role of Iraq and creating an imbalance of power between the Arabs and their enemies so that Iraq is delivered as a free gift to America.

The last service provided by this "super servant" was to surrender as "a free service to America, and Bush in particular, in disgraceful pictures that would be used as stickers in the election campaign…." [8]

A Conspiracy Theory of Saddam as a Prisoner of His Supporters

The advocates of this conspiracy theory argue that Saddam was kidnapped by his supporters after he issued his last audio message on November 16, and was imprisoned in the spider hole where he was found three weeks later. This would explain his unkempt appearance and his willingness to surrender to the American soldiers, whom he considered as "saviors." The adherents of this theory point to the fact that Saddam's hair was black, which suggests that he was not in the spider hole for very long otherwise grey hair would have become noticeable. [9]

The Mother of All Conspiracy Theories

The mother of all conspiracy theories is woven by Abd Al-Bari Atwan, the Editor-in-Chief of the London-based Arabic daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi - the one daily, aside from Saddam's regime dailies, which no longer exist, that has remained loyal to "President Saddam Hussein." [10]

For Atwan, "The U.S. and its mighty propaganda machine are involved in a disinformation campaign that reaches the level of terrorism" to mislead public opinion. Here is his evidence in four parts:

First, the pictures distributed by the Americans about Saddam's hideout show a palm tree behind the soldier who uncovered the hole where Saddam was hiding. The palm tree carried a cluster of pre-ripened yellow dates, which might suggest that Saddam was arrested at least three months earlier, because dates ripen in the summer months when they turn into their natural black or brown color. Atwan concludes that the arrest was "a staged show and the place of arrest [was] completely elsewhere. [11]

Second, if there were two rooms connected with the hole in which Saddam was captured, what explains the fact, asks Atwan, that Saddam "appeared filthy and looked like a man who did not bathe in weeks, if not in months."

Third, statements about Saddam's alleged cooperation were contradictory. Ambassador Paul Bremer said that Saddam was cooperating, while Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that he was not.

Fourth, Atwan alleges that there were bruises on Saddam's face and over his brow. In addition, Saddam behaved like a robot while he was being examined. The videos showed Saddam touching his cheeks but Atwan was able to surmise that Saddam was probing his face "as if he just woken up from coma." This led Atwan to suggest that the probing may be due to the use of nerve gas while Saddam's hideout was being raided, not unlike the gas used by the Russians against the Chechen rebels who took over the Bolshoi Palace [theatre] and which paralyzed them for hours. The alleged use of gas may explain why Saddam did not resist, and hence there is a need for "impartial experts…to analyze the dirt in the hideout and the surrounding area to reveal the truth." [12]


In his article, mentioned earlier, Al-Dhayidi concludes: "The time has come for us to read the history and the present as it happened and as it happens, not as we wish it to happen. These thick layers of illusions and lies that have surrounded our minds for too long and concealed from us the light and the air are our biggest enemy. Our real enemy is our ignorance. Worst yet - it is our cheerfulness and appreciation for this ignorance. We are the product of our history. And we are those who carried out [the attacks of] September 11 and subsequently May 12 [2003], and last but not least we are those who blew up the Muhaya quarters [in Riyadh], not the Mossad and not Ibn Saba [a mythical figure allegedly involved in the murder of the third Caliph]. Let us stop drinking dirty water because it will not satisfy our thirst no matter how much more we drink [of it]." [13]

* Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli is Senior Analyst of MEMRI's Middle East Economic Studies Program.

[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), December 16, 2003.

[2] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), December 16, 2003.

[3] Interview in Arabic with Raghad Hussein, daughter of Saddam Hussein. Al-Arabiyya News, December 16, 2003.

[4] Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), December 15, 2003.

[5] Okaz (Saudi Arabia), December 15, 2003.

[6] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), December 15, 2003.

[7] Al-Zaman (Iraq), December 14, 2003 reports from American sources that no telephone was found during Saddam's arrest.

[8] Al-Shira' (Baghdad) December 17, 2003.

[9] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), December 17, 2003.

[10] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), December 17, 2003.

[11] An agricultural expert told the London-based Arabic daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that there are some types of dates which mature in the winter months after rainfalls (December 17, 2003). Also, as anyone with any experience with palm trees would know that some trees do not pollinate properly and the date remains yellow and inedible and is usually used as animal feed.

[12] Abd Al-Bari Atwan has been a consistent and vocal supporter of Saddam's regime as well as of what he still refers to as "Sheikh" [a religious leader] Osama bin Laden. The relationship between Atwan's newspaper and its sources of funding are not known. What is known for certain is that his newspaper, which is a commercial paper, does not accept advertisements, and questions have always been raised in the Arab press as to how a paper with a relatively small circulation can afford offices in a big building in London without accepting advertisements. On December 7, 2003 the Egyptian weekly October said:"The one known as Abd Al-Bari Atwan is a mercenary journalist, one of Saddam's mercenaries who defended him with their bodies and soul! And they still do so to this very day out of loyalty and greed."

[13] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), December 17, 2003.
12 posted on 12/19/2003 11:11:57 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
The Meaning of Iranian Inspections

December 19, 2003
Wall Street Journal
Michael A. Ledeen

Now that Iran says it will allow outside experts to inspect its nuclear sites, it might behoove other governments to listen to the words of an expert inside Iran. In a public session of the Iranian Parliament on Nov. 24, Ahmad Shirzad, a deputy from the city of Isfahan, attacked the regime's nuclear policies, provoking a controversy that has not yet died down.

Mr. Shirzad is no novice in these matters. The son of President Ali Khatami remarked once that "If there are three persons in Iran able to address atomic questions from a specialist point of view, Mr. Shirzad is undoubtedly one of them."

In the course of his lengthy speech, Mr. Shirzad revealed that the regime had constructed a vast underground laboratory in Isfahan, 50 meters below the ground. He specifically referred to centrifuges and suggested that the underground facility covered more than 20,000 square meters, an enormous area. This is consistent with other information about covert Iranian weapons projects; there is another large underground facility near the city of Parchin, where the Shah started an industrial research and development operation.

Mr. Shirzad went on to spell out the effect of the covert nuclear program, and Iran's unceasing support for the terror network that is killing Westerners all over the world. Iran, he said, had been made into a pariah country, its image changed from "a popular, peace-seeking, egalitarian society based on justice, into a hub for totalitarianism, disdain for human rights, violence, support for international terrorism in search of weapons of mass destruction and alienated from its own people." Not a bad summary of the mullahtocracy.

Mr. Shirzad was instantly silenced, and is now awaiting the inevitable charges from the regime's Islamic tribunals. Until the Western world--above all the United States--decides to support democratic revolution in Iran, the mullahs will continue to oppress their own people and plot the death of outsiders. Mr. Shirzad is destined to join the ranks of thousands of brave critics of the regime who have one glorious moment of protest and are then consigned to the regime's torture chambers.

Alas, there is no sign that the West is willing to accept the truth about Iran, and therefore the imperative for action. Instead, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell pronounced himself "very happy" with a feeble U.N. criticism of Iran's nuclear program that bemoans Iran's longstanding violation of its international agreements but does not shut down the program. At the moment the world is trusting that the Iranian rulers have been true to their word, and suspended their uranium enrichment, despite testimony to the contrary from Mr. Shirzad and many others (I am told that they have actually speeded up the enrichment program), and despite the explicit statement by Iranian National Security Council head Hassan Rohani during a news conference on Saturday, "Our uranium enrichment program has been suspended voluntarily, temporarily, to build trust," he said, adding that "the issue of ending uranium enrichment is not in question and never has been nor will be."

As for the inspections promised yesterday, we are all diligently repeating the same mistake we made with Saddam Hussein, and the Iranian rulers are copying his methods. They have already moved much material from underground locations in and around Tehran (including special branches of the subway system) to mountain tunnels of the sort used by al Qaeda in Afghanistan, which is why the inspections may matter less than people realize.

Just as we gave the terror masters nearly a year and a half to scatter and hide the Iraqi weapons, and organize their Iraq strategy, so we are giving the Iranians precious time to pursue their weapons program and solidify internal terror.

This delay has also eased the pressure on the mullahs' nuclear team to organize an early test. Throughout the late summer and early autumn, the regime's leaders were demanding that their scientists (mainly from Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, North Korea and China) go all out for a demonstrative nuclear test as quickly as possible. Now the pressure is off, and they can proceed at a more leisurely pace.

Meanwhile, Iran's clawprints are all over recent terrorist depredations. The Saudi press reported last month that the orders for the Nov. 8 bombings in Riyadh were given by al Qaeda's security chieftain Saif al-Adel by satellite phone from Iran. The Turkish press reported that the suicide terrorists who killed Turkish Muslims and Jews, and British diplomats, in Istanbul in the two attacks on Nov. 15 and the 21 were trained in Iran and in Iranian-controlled areas of Afghanistan; and on Dec. 2 the newspaper Hurriyet wrote that Turkish authorities had concluded that Aywan al Zarahiri, Osama's right-hand man, had given the orders. The Turks have announced they had captured the leader of the operation, just as he was trying to slip across the border into Iran. The Italian press has also reported the arrests of five persons in Italy and Germany, of whom the key figure, Sheikh Abderrazak, is an Algerian with proven connections to al Qaeda kingpin Abu Mussab al Zarkawi. Zarkawi is a Jordanian who, according to both Italian and German court documents, has long operated from Iran.

American officials at the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad have recently been informed that Iranian intelligence operatives have taken over full control of the Badr Brigades, Iraqi-born Shiite fighters who spent the past 20 years in Iran around their religious leader, the Ayatollah Hakim (himself killed in a suicide attack as he came out of the main mosque in Baghdad, almost certainly because he ignored orders from Tehran).

If that is not sufficient to galvanize Western action, how about the discovery of Iranian diplomats in London taking late night pictures of a synagogue, and in New York at 1 a.m. snapping photos of the subway system? Do U.S. leaders think there is a new phototourism fad among the Iranian diplomatic corps?

Iran has long been the keystone of international terrorism--even the State Department admits that in its annual report--and it is on the verge of producing nuclear weapons. It is also uniquely vulnerable to President George W. Bush's announced strategy in the Middle East. The Iranian people are enthusiastically pro-American, hate their oppressive regime, and are fully ready for democracy. Unlike Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. does not have to invade Iran in order to liberate it. It needs only support the people, as it did the Serbs against Slobodan Milosovic, the Filipinos against the Marcoses, the Poles against Soviet Communism.

Iran is the ultimate litmus test of the seriousness of the Bush Administration, and in all likelihood its ability to conduct an effective campaign against the mullahs in Tehran will determine the outcome of the war against the terror masters. Time is decidedly not in U.S. favor.

Michael A. Ledeen holds the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute.,filter./news_detail.asp
13 posted on 12/19/2003 12:04:35 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
The Meaning of Iranian Inspections

December 19, 2003
Wall Street Journal
Michael A. Ledeen
14 posted on 12/19/2003 12:05:32 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn

A misguided policy.
by Amir Taheri
National Review Online
December 19, 2003

France's state-owned television channels reached their highest viewer ratings Wednesday when the nation was invited to witness what one commentator described as "an historic moment."

This consisted of a 4,000-word address by President Jacques Chirac, live from the Elysee Palace. With a tricolor in the background to emphasise the solemnity of the occasion, Chirac read his text as if it were a declaration of war. A crowd of 400 "leading citizens," including the prime minister, the entire cabinet, speakers of the two houses of parliament, and heads of the various religious communities, were present in the gilded hall to provide the cued applause.

But what was all the fuss about?

From the way the French media have covered the occasion, one would think that Chirac had raised the banner of national resistance against a foreign invader: something like Vercingetorix standing up to Roman conquerors in Gaul, or Charles Martel stopping the Saracens at Poitier.

All that Chirac did, however, was "instruct" the parliament to pass a law under which girls wearing the Islamist foulard (head scarf) would not be allowed to attend state-owned schools. Anxious that the move should not appear anti-Islamic, the president also announced that the wearing of "big crosses", and Jewish skullcaps, would also be banned. Chirac said that the Hand of Fatma be banned too, though apparently he didn't even know what it was: He pronounced it Fatima's Hand, and appeared to regard it as an Islamic symbol.

Chirac presented the foulard as the greatest challenge faced by the French republic since it formulated its secular principles in 1905. Using the traditional devices of French grandiloquence, the president recalled the heritage of the Great Revolution and its rallying cry: freedom, fraternity, and equality.

The truth, however, is that Chirac has decided upon — or been misled into — making a mountain out of a molehill. By doing so, he risks casting himself in the role of a modern Don Quixote, off to fight the windmills instead of the real giants.

First, it is wrong to see the foulard as a symbol of conflict between Islam and the West: The foulard in question is a political, not a religious, symbol. Designed in Lebanon in 1975 and imposed by force in Iran in the 1980s, it has never been sanctioned by any Islamic religious authority in France or anywhere else; it has, however, been adopted as a symbol by many radical Islamist groups.

Thus Chirac is wrong to present the foulard as a means by which mainstream Islam is trying to extend religion into the public space. And even then, the foulard concerns very few Muslims in France, or anywhere else in the world for that matter.

The French government's own statistics show that no more than 2,000 out of 1.8 million Muslim girls wore it in 2002. Several studies conducted in various Muslim-inhabited French suburbs show that more than two-thirds of girls wearing the foulard do so because of intimidation by organized Islamist gangs. But Chirac isn't passing laws to protect those girls from intimidation: He is suggesting legislation to punish them at the school gates instead.

France does have a problem with its Arab population, most of which comes from North Africa. The North African minority, known as beurs, bears deep resentment about France's colonial past. It also regards itself as a victim of racial discrimination, much as do African Americans in the United States.

The problem of the beurs, therefore, is social, cultural, and economic — not religious. Even if all beurs converted to Christianity or became atheists, they would still feel like victims, because they cannot get good jobs and are confined to the shanty towns built by French Stalinists in the 1950s and 1960s.

There's even more to refute about the "subversiveness" of France's six million Muslims. Of these, for example, more than half have taken up French nationality and thus, one must presume, respect the principles on which the French republic is based. Another 1.5 million, mostly from Algeria and Morocco, are believed to have dual nationality. But there is no reason to believe that they wish to undermine the principles of French statehood. Nor is the Muslim community isolated, or self-segregating: Some 40 percent of French Muslims marry non-Muslims. (

To treat France's Muslims as a single community is to mistakenly believe that Islam, like Christianity, has church-like structures. Islam, however, is the religion of the individual: Its chief feature is the direct line it establishes between the believer and the Creator, thus eliminating priests, intercessors, and other religious functionaries.

Since there is no baptism or confirmation in Islam, and certainly no excommunication either, the only way to know who is a Muslim and who is not is an individual's self-identification as one. The Chirac administration's attempt at inventing a single "authority" for Islam is already proving counterproductive. This was made abundantly clear last year when the interior ministry decided to create a "French authority" for Islam.

The ministry gathered a few beards from around the country and put them up for election as founders of the French "church" of Islam. Despite months of publicity, and some $50 million in public funds (illegal under French secular rules), the election that the ministry organized for the "church of Islam" attracted around 40,000 voters, less than one percent of Muslims eligible for the franchise. Not surprisingly, those who voted were mostly political militants who want to transform Islam into an ideology and use it as an instrument of achieving power, or at least a share in it.

Thus the battle Chirac needs to fight is not with Muslims in France, but instead with the militant Islamists that his own government has helped and financed.

French Muslims have scores of non-religious organizations and associations. But the authorities never talk to them. French governments, on both the left and the right, cannot understand a simple fact: It is possible to be a believing and practicing Muslim without subscribing to communitarian politics.

Despite Chirac's typically monarchic "instructions" to the legislature, the French parliament should not rush into hasty lawmaking on this sensitive issue. What France needs instead is a proper study of the Islamic presence on her soil.

Such a study would show that France has no problem with its Muslim citizens as such. The problem it has is with fascists using religion not only against the French republic, but also, and often primarily, against Muslims. The overwhelming majority of the girls who wear the foulard is forced to do so by verbal threats or even physical violence. The small numbers that might wear it for political and ideological reasons must be allowed to do so for as long as they do not try to impose it on others through psychological terror or physical violence.

Chirac's intervention may well be connected with the declining popularity of his government. His loose center-right coalition of half a dozen parties is facing local elections next May, and feels threatened by the rising tide of extremism from both left and right. The extreme Right, especially the National Front, which won over 18 percent of the votes in the presidential election almost two years ago, is trying to portray Islam as a religious threat to "Christian" France. The extreme Left, led by Trotskyites, claims that Islam is now the only religion that can endanger France's secular traditions.

By trying to make his own Islamic pitch, Chirac may well be trying to chip at the support base of both extreme-right and extreme-left parties. This may be a clever tactic in electoral terms. But it leaves the real issue untouched: France is threatened by a number of extremist groups of which the Islamists are but one — that have to be challenged and defeated in the political arena.

— Amir Taheri is an Iranian author of ten books on the Middle East and Islam. He's reachable through
15 posted on 12/19/2003 3:56:43 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...

A misguided policy.
by Amir Taheri
National Review Online
December 19, 2003
16 posted on 12/19/2003 3:57:40 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn; F14 Pilot; Grampa Dave

17 posted on 12/19/2003 5:42:44 PM PST by PhilDragoo (Hitlery: das Butch von Buchenvald)
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To: DoctorZIn
Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, Iranian Rebels

December 19, 2003
Council on Foreign Relations
Terrorism Q&A

What is Mujahedeen-e-Khalq?

Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) is the largest and most militant group opposed to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Also known as the People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, MEK is led by husband and wife Massoud and Maryam Rajavi. MEK was added to the U.S. State Department’s list of foreign terrorist groups in 1997 and to the European Union’s terrorist list in 2002 because its attacks have often killed civilians. Despite MEK’s violent tactics, the group’s strong stand against Iran—part of President Bush’s “axis of evil”—and pro-democratic image have won it support among some U.S. and European lawmakers.

What are MEK’s origins?

MEK was founded in the 1960s by a group of college-educated Iranian leftists opposed to the country’s pro-Western ruler, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The group participated in the 1979 Islamic revolution that replaced the shah with a Shiite Islamist regime led by the Ayatollah Khomeini. But MEK’s ideology, a blend of Marxism and Islamism, put it at odds with the postrevolutionary government, and its original leadership was soon executed by the Khomeini regime. In 1981, the group was driven from its bases on the Iran-Iraq border and resettled in Paris, where it began supporting Iraq in its eight-year war against Khomeini’s Iran. In 1986, MEK moved its headquarters to Iraq, which used MEK to harass neighboring Iran. During the 2003 Iraq war, U.S. forces cracked down on MEK’s bases in Iraq, and in June 2003 French authorities raided an MEK compound outside Paris and arrested 160 people, including Maryam Rajavi.

Who are MEK’s leaders?

Maryam Rajavi, who hopes to become president of Iran, is MEK’s principal leader; her husband, Massoud Rajavi, heads up the group’s military forces. Maryam Rajavi, born in 1953 to an upper-middleclass Iranian family, joined MEK as a student in Tehran in the early 1970s. After relocating with the group to Paris in 1981, she was elected its joint leader and later became deputy commander-in-chief of its armed wing. Experts say that MEK has increasingly come to resemble a cult that is devoted to Massoud Rajavi’s secular interpretation of the Koran and is prone to sudden, dramatic ideological shifts. After being released from police custody on bail, Maryam Rajavi was confined to the MEK compound in France, and the investigation continues. Massoud Rajavi was last known to be living in Iraq, but authorities aren’t certain of his whereabouts or whether he is alive.

Where does MEK operate?

The group’s armed unit operated from camps in Iraq near the Iran border since 1986. During the Iraq war, U.S. troops disarmed MEK and posted guards at its bases. In addition to its Paris-based members, MEK has a network of sympathizers in Europe, the United States, and Canada. The group’s political arm, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, maintains offices in several capitals, including Washington, D.C.

How big is MEK?

MEK is believed to have some 10,000 members, one-third to one-half of whom are fighters. Experts say its activities have dropped off in recent years as its membership has dwindled. MEK has had little success luring new recruits and is composed mostly of its founding members.

What major attacks has MEK been responsible for?

The group has targeted Iranian government officials and government facilities in Iran and abroad; during the 1970s, it attacked Americans in Iran. While the group says it does not intentionally target civilians, it has often risked civilian casualties. It routinely aims its attacks at government buildings in crowded cities. MEK terrorism has declined since late 2001. Incidents linked to the group include:

*The series of mortar attacks and hit-and-run raids during 2000 and 2001 against Iranian government buildings; one of these killed Iran’s chief of staff

*The 2000 mortar attack on President Mohammad Khatami’s palace in Tehran

*The February 2000 “Operation Great Bahman,” during which MEK launched 12 attacks against Iran

*The 1999 assassination of the deputy chief of Iran’s armed forces general staff, Ali Sayyad Shirazi

*The 1998 assassination of the director of Iran’s prison system, Asadollah Lajevardi

*The 1992 near-simultaneous attacks on Iranian embassies and institutions in 13 countries

*Assistance to Saddam Hussein’s suppression of the 1991 Iraqi Shiite and Kurdish uprisings

*The 1981 bombing of the offices of the Islamic Republic Party and of Premier Mohammad-Javad Bahonar, which killed some 70 high-ranking Iranian officials, including President Mohammad-Ali Rajaei and Bahonar

*Support for the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by Iranian revolutionaries

*The 1970s killings of U.S. military personnel and civilians working on defense projects in Tehran

It’s unclear how many attacks MEK has carried out: according to experts, the group’s claims of responsibility for attacks in Iran are often exaggerated, and sometimes MEK is blamed by the Iranian government for attacks it didn’t stage.

How is MEK funded?

When Saddam Hussein was in power, MEK received the majority of its financial support from the Iraqi regime. It also used front organizations, such as the Muslim Iranian Student’s Society, to collect money from expatriate Iranians and others, according to the State Department’s counterterrorism office. In 2001, the Justice Department accused seven Iranians in the United States of funneling donations—between $5,000 and $10,000 per day—collected at Los Angeles International Airport to MEK. The money allegedly was for starving children in Iran; according to the FBI, it was used to buy arms.

Did MEK have ties to Saddam Hussein?

Yes. Iraq was MEK’s primary benefactor. Iraq provided MEK with bases, weapons, and protection, and MEK harassed Saddam’s Iranian foes. Experts say MEK’s attacks on Iran traditionally intensified when relations between Iran and Iraq grew strained. Iraq encouraged or restrained MEK, depending on its Baghdad’s interests.

Did U.S. forces crack down on MEK during the Iraq war?

Yes. In early April, U.S. forces bombed MEK bases. On April 15, though, the United States signed a ceasefire with MEK, the first such agreement between the United States and a terror group. The ceasefire reportedly instigated fierce debate among President Bush’s national security advisers. Under pressure from the State Department, U.S. officials changed course and disarmed MEK, but pledged to guard MEK from attacks by Iranian forces or the Badr Brigade, an Iranian-backed group of Iraqi exiles.

Have there been other anti-terror moves directed at MEK?

Yes. On June 17, French authorities arrested some 160 MEK members, including Maryam Rajavi, outside Paris. They accused MEK of conspiring to prepare and finance acts of terrorism from the group’s French base, where authorities also confiscated $8 million. All the suspects were subsequently released, including Rajavi, but many were confined to their homes while the investigation continues.

When did MEK target Americans?

In the early 1970s, angered by U.S. support for the pro-Western shah, MEK members killed several U.S. soldiers and civilians working on defense projects in Iran. Some experts say the attack may have been the work of a Maoist splinter faction operating beyond the Rajavi leadership’s control. MEK members also supported the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, in which 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days.

Do some U.S. lawmakers support MEK?

Yes. MEK—or at least its political wing, the National Council of Resistance—has enjoyed the support of some members of Congress for several years. In August 2001, 30 U.S. senators asked the Bush administration to reconsider MEK’s designation as a terrorist group. Since September 11, some U.S. lawmakers have withdrawn their support; others have reiterated it. The European Union added MEK to its roster of terrorist organizations in May 2002, despite some support for the group among European lawmakers.

Why do some U.S. lawmakers support MEK?

Because it opposes Iran—a regime that the U.S. government says sponsors terrorism and seeks to acquire weapons of mass destruction. MEK has reportedly provided the U.S. government with valuable intelligence about Iran’s nuclear program. Over the years, MEK became more palatable to many in Congress by abandoning its Marxist doctrine and recasting itself as a pro-democratic, pro-capitalist organization that supports the rights of women and minorities. The group has a female leader and about half of its troops in Iraq are women. Some skeptics argue that the prominent role of women in MEK is less a reflection of the group’s values than a publicity tool aimed at garnering support among Iranian exiles opposed to the Tehran government’s religious restrictions on women.

Some terrorism experts also call for MEK’s removal from the State Department terror list. They argue that MEK has not attacked Americans in three decades. They also say that placing the group on the terror list was a misguided conciliatory gesture to Iran and that MEK instead should be supported as a legitimate source of resistance to the Iranian government.

Does MEK have support in Iran?

Very little, according to experts and press reports. Iranians criticize MEK for accepting support from Iraq, carrying out attacks against Iran on Iraq’s behalf, and murdering Iranian civilians. Many Iranians consider MEK “as toxic, if not more so, than the ruling clerics,” according to The New York Times Magazine.

Does MEK consider itself a terrorist group?

No, and it has protested being labeled one by the U.S. government. In 2001, MEK was granted a hearing by the State Department after a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the group’s due-process rights were violated when it was denied the chance to oppose its terrorist-group designation. MEK’s place on the terror-group list was subsequently reaffirmed by Secretary of State Colin Powell. However, the Washington, D.C., office of the National Council of Resistance remains open.

Is MEK a cult?

We don’t know, but it has some of the trappings of a cult. Members reportedly deify Maryam Rajavi; her photographs are found throughout MEK camps, and followers staged public self-immolations to protest her arrest. Members are said to undergo regular self-criticism sessions. They also reportedly are required to divorce; children are separated from their parents and sent to Western nations for adoption by Iranian families. When they reach 18, some of them return to join MEK, because “from the day they were born, these girls and boys were not taught to think for themselves but to blindly follow their leaders,” according to a New York Times Magazine account.
18 posted on 12/19/2003 6:01:28 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn; F14 Pilot; Grampa Dave; SAMWolf; snippy_about_it; autoresponder; MeeknMing
A must-read article at 13 as we reach the precipice above Nuclear Iran--When State-sponsored Terrorists Attack.

If that is not sufficient to galvanize Western action, how about the discovery of Iranian diplomats in London taking late night pictures of a synagogue, and in New York at 1 a.m. snapping photos of the subway system? Do U.S. leaders think there is a new phototourism fad among the Iranian diplomatic corps?

Iran has long been the keystone of international terrorism--even the State Department admits that in its annual report--and it is on the verge of producing nuclear weapons. It is also uniquely vulnerable to President George W. Bush's announced strategy in the Middle East. The Iranian people are enthusiastically pro-American, hate their oppressive regime, and are fully ready for democracy. Unlike Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. does not have to invade Iran in order to liberate it. It needs only support the people, as it did the Serbs against Slobodan Milosovic, the Filipinos against the Marcoses, the Poles against Soviet Communism.

19 posted on 12/19/2003 6:26:38 PM PST by PhilDragoo (Hitlery: das Butch von Buchenvald)
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To: PhilDragoo
Alas, there is no sign that the West is willing to accept the truth about Iran, and therefore the imperative for action.

We need to pay attention and be wary.

Thanks for the ping.

20 posted on 12/19/2003 7:22:19 PM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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