Skip to comments.Iranian Alert -- June 29, 2004 [EST]-- IRAN LIVE THREAD -- "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Posted on 06/28/2004 9:00:35 PM PDT 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. Most Americans 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. I began these daily threads June 10th 2003. On that date Iranians once again began taking to the streets to express their desire for a regime change. Today in Iran, most want to replace the regime with a secular democracy.
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.
Experts: Iran Ready to Take It to the Brink
Monday, June 28, 2004
By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos
WASHINGTON With a dubious nuclear technology program, the capture of British sailors last week and reports of meddling in fledgling Iraqi affairs, Iran (search) a member of the now-notorious "axis of evil" appears to be testing the waters to see how far it can push the West.
Some foreign policy analysts say Washington may find it difficult to fight back.
"The costs of the Iraq war are higher than just the soldiers who are dying and the money we are spending," said Joseph Cirincione, director of the non-proliferation project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (search). The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq squandered much of the U.S. authority in the Middle East and may have damaged America's ability to get help from Muslim states to fend off threats from Iran, he said.
"We really destroyed our relationship with the Arab world, and we are now in a much weaker position with Iran," he said.
"Iran is drawing a line in the sand," said Alireza Jafarzadeh of Strategic Policy Consulting (search). Jafarzadeh, formerly linked to the Washington, D.C.-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, which has been called a terrorist organization by the State Department, has won much support on Capitol Hill for his work as a staunch watchdog of Irans nuclear weapons programs.
"Iran clearly wants all players in Iraq to know that the bigger and more populated and stronger neighbor is the big bully in the alley," he said.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran has claimed hundreds of nuclear experts are working directly for Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and that Iran seeks to have a nuclear bomb within two years. Last week, FOX News showed satellite images of two locations in Iran that are suspected of being sites for Iran's continued efforts to produce nuclear weapons.
On Monday, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (search) and his weapons inspectors toured one of those facilities. The tour came after Iran was rebuked by the IAEA two weeks ago for noncompliance with weapons inspectors. IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei told Reuters that he was pleased with Iran's cooperation.
The tour also followed an announcement by the Iranian Foreign Ministry on Sunday that it would resume construction on centrifuges, a move critical to building a nuclear bomb. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said Iran will not begin enriching uranium, the process of injecting gas into centrifuges.
The U.S. responded by suggesting that the United Nations may want to seek sanctions on Iran. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice told "FOX News Sunday" that the United States has been working with the IAEA and European nations to make certain the Iranians know "they only have two choices to cooperate or face isolation."
Last week, experts warned the House International Relations Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia that a nuclear bomb in the hands of Iran would spell imminent disaster for the United States.
"A nuclear-capable Iran, under their present leadership, could be an unparalleled earthquake, with shockwaves that could rock the foundations of U.S. vital interests in the region, at home and around the world," said Paul Leventhal, founder of the Nuclear Control Institute. Leventhal added that Iran's support of terrorist organizations could lead to the further proliferation of nuclear materials.
Reports indicate that Iranians are helping insurgents in Iraq fight U.S. forces and are terrorizing Iraqis aiding the new interim government, and before that, the Coalition Provisional Authority. Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., who has been keeping a close eye on Iranian weapons acquisition and sales for years, emphasized this problem in recent Capitol Hill hearings.
"In my opinion, the bulk of what we are seeing in terms of unrest in Iraq is being carried out both by Iranians, by those groups being supported by Irans money and by those organizations that are determined not to have Iraq be a stable nation," he said.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, who testified at the hearing, concurred, but did not overemphasize Iran's role.
"I agree with you that Iran is important. I wouldnt say it is the key to everything," he said.
Iran also demonstrated its disregard for international relations last week when it captured eight British sailors who said they had mistakenly crossed into the Iranian side of a disputed Shatt al-Arab waterway between Iran and Iraq. The prisoners, who were released after a week in captivity, were paraded about on international television in what some say was a message by hardline leaders that the country will not be trifled with.
"It is the first shot across the bow," said Nile Gardiner, international affairs analyst with the Heritage Foundation.
"This is really a wake-up call for Downing Street and the Foreign Office," Gardiner said, referring to the British government. Iran "senses weakness in Iraq and a perceived weakness on behalf of Britain and America and they are testing and probing the strength of the West in regard to Iraq."
Even with the aggressive moves by the regime in Tehran, analysts vary on how to respond. Most of those who spoke with FOXNews.com agreed that a pre-emptive strike like the one launched against Saddam Hussein, who had repeatedly ignored U.N. disarmament resolutions and subverted international inspectors, is not a viable option for Iran. Direct negotiations with the government or supporting internal opposition groups combined with a "carrot and stick" approach appear more feasible at this time.
"Its very uncertain we dont know what is going to happen here, it could go either way," Cirincione said. "A lot of it depends on keeping the pressure on, that means having a united front with the Europeans and the other nations in the region. It means having a comprehensive strategy offering Iran positive incentives as well as disincentives."
Richard Murphy, a senior fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations, said the Iranians are acting "paranoid" and "jumpy" because they perceive American and other Western interests encroaching on the region. He suggested that it would behoove the United States to ensure any action taken against Irans nuclear program has an international face.
"They are feeling that Uncle Sam is behind every corner waiting to bash them," said Murphy. "What we do not need is an openly hostile Iran intervening in Iraq."
Jafarzadeh, who said he believes the order to restrain the British soldiers came straight from the hardline theocracy, suggested that the international community be not only united, but firm as well. Anything less would make all efforts useless.
"What would make [the mullahs] bolder and more persistent in pushing their objectives is to see indecisiveness and confusion in the international community," he said. "Tehran will only take you seriously when you are serious, when you show teeth."
Iran Under Curfew - MAJOR MEDIA IS NOT AIRING!
Following this alert is a message from one Iranian Activist inside Iran:
The regime in Iran is doing all it can to suppress any 18 Tir massive demonstrations that would lead to revolution and overthrow of the current tyranny, which would be a major blow to the fanatical terrorists throughout the world and would also be a major blow and embarrassment to the EU supporters of the regime.
News of the preparations and tightening of country-wide security and lockdowns have been reported in Iran for several weeks, but have yet to be given any coverage on the major media, which many Americans and westerners watch. For weeks, the regime has been filling the streets with armed Islamist vigilantes and other regime mercenaries that have been brought in from various countries throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa for one objective, the security and protection of the Mullahs Mafia enterprise.
It is your decision whether you actually care about this, but the bottom line is, the Mullahs are doing any and all things possible to not be overthrown this summer. Just because this type of information does not appear in the major media does not mean that it is not happening or that it is unimportant. IT IS HAPPENING. Whether you care to believe it or not is your prerogative, but if you do care, your duty must be to stand with the Iranian people and unite behind all forces of truth and all united groups who believe freedom is the destiny of all man, woman and child. WE MUST FIGHT UNTIL FREEDOM IS WON! Please demand that your government support the Iranian people this summer and break the business ties between the European Governments and the regime of killers who will continue to wreak havoc on this world, the Middle East, and the Iranian people unless they are STOPPED SOON!
MESSAGE FROM IRANIAN INSIDE IRAN:
The terrorist occupiers put all cities under tight Military Curfew!
Students and activists are robbed from their home and streets, their dead corps found days later!
Activists are called to courts to sign an agreement not to participate in July 9th rally. hundreds are arrested everyday throughout Iran.
All streets are packed with armed forces, and special gaurds.
This is the making of a Military Coup!
Damn it EU! Drop your deals or we'll sign with our bloods:
NO MORE OIL FOR THOSE WHO SUPPORT IRI.
NO MORE IRANIAN BLOOD FOR EU OIL!
European Union Challenged About the Middle East's Biggest Prison for Journalists
June 28, 2004
Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders today addressed an open letter to the European Union asking about the EU delegation that was in Tehran on 14-15 June taking part in a dialogue about human rights with the Islamic Republic. The organisation criticised the continuing threats against members of the news media and the deterioration in the situation of imprisoned journalists.
"This dialogue, launched in 2001, has not yet led to any decrease in repression but it allows the Iranian regime to maintain 'good relations' with the European countries," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard pointed out in his letter.
"Reporters Without Borders would like to ask you in future to take account of the reports and recommendations provided by the independent and representative organisations of Iranian civil society," the letter said, urging the European Union to adopt a "firm position" with the Iranian authorities as regards putting a stop to the repression.
"We point out that 120 newspapers have been banned since 2001, more than 50 journalists have been detained and 11 are still in detention, making Iran the biggest prison for journalists in the Middle East," the letter continued. "One wonders what to make of the Iranian government's remark on 20 June that it is the European Union that should learn from Iran about human rights."
Eleven journalists are currently in prison :
-Akbar Ganji, a journalist with Sobh-e Emrouz, held since 22 April 2000
-Hassan Youssefi Echkevari of Iran-e Farda, held since 5 August 2000
-Hossein Ghazian of Norooz, held since 31 October 2002
-Abbas Abdi of Salam, held since 4 November 2002
-Ali-Reza Jabari of Adineh, held since 17 March 2003
-Siamak Pourzand, a contributor to several independent newspapers, held since 30 Mars 2003
-Taghi Rahmani of Omid-e Zangan, held since 14 June 2003
-Reza Alijani, the editor of Iran-e Farda and winner of the Reporters Without Borders-Fondation de France prize, held since 14 June 2003
-Hoda Saber, managing editor of Iran-e Farda, held since 14 June 2003
-Iraj Jamshidi, editor of the business daily Asia, held since 6 July 2003
-Ensafali Hedayat, a freelance journalist held since 16 January 2004.
On 20 June, the lawyers of Reza Alijani, Taghi Rahmani and Hoda Saber addressed an open letter to the head of the Iranian justice system, Ayatollah Shahroudi, protesting against the irregularity and illegality of their clients' arrests, trials and prison conditions. They described the mistreatment and torture undergone by the clients, reporting that, "They were interrogated, insulted and beaten for hours to make them 'confess' to the charges brought against them." The lawyers also said they never had access to their clients' files, they could not talk to their clients and they received no official notification of their clients' conviction.
Reporters Without Borders is also very concerned about the disappearance of journalist Iraj Jamshidi, who was imprisoned on 6 July 2003. There has been no word of him for some time. On the eve of the visit of UN special rapporteur Ambeyi Ligabo from 4 to 11 November 2003, Jamshidi was transferred from his solitary confinement cell in the basement of Evin prison to a communal cell but was subsequently moved back to the basement. He has received only one visit in almost a year, coinciding with the special rapporteur's visit, and he has still not been tried.
Journalists continue to be summoned and arrested despite the European delegation's visit to Tehran. Emadoldin Baghi, a journalist and rights activist, has been summoned to appear today before the Tehran revolutionary tribunal. Sentenced to three years in prison in October 2000, Baghi has been an active press freedom campaigner since his release last year and has created an organisation that defends prisoners of conscience. As he was given a one-year suspended sentenced on 4 December 2003, he is in danger of being re-imprisoned.
Iranian journalists in exile in Europe continue to be subject to pressure from the Iranian judicial authorities. Such is the case of Sina Motallebi, a journalist with the reformist daily Hayat-e Now and moderator of the website www.rooznegar.com, now in exile in the Netherlands. Motallebi was arrested and held in solitary confinement from 20 April to 12 May for allegedly "jeopardizing national security by means of an artistic activity."
The Iranian authorities have been embarrassed by the accounts of his personal experiences which Motallebi has given since leaving Iran. He has not hesitated to talk about his arbitrary arrest, the ban on his access to a lawyer, the confessions that were extorted from him, and the fact that he was held in secret for several weeks in Evin prison. Motallebi spoke at a press conference on 8 June at Reporters Without Borders headquarters in Paris. The account he gave of his imprisonment was reported by the print media and the Franco-German television station ARTE. His father was summoned by the judicial authorities in Tehran the next day. The authorities have said that if Motallebi does not turn up for his trial, set for 19 July, his father will be required to pay on-the-spot bail of 30 million tomans (about 30,000 euros at the official rate).
NO MORE IRANIAN BLOOD FOR EU OIL!
Iranian Government Media Reports: 'Iranian Woman Gives Birth to Frog;' 'Americans Are Behind Beheadings;' and 'Jewish Involvement in 9/11'
June 29, 2004 No.735
Over the past year, stories in the Iranian media have included articles about e xtremist Jews plotting to assassinate French President Jacques Chirac, Mossad agents being behind the bombings in Najaf, and the U.S. and Zionists bribing the IAEA to fabricate lies about Iranian nuclear progress.  The following are some recent examples from this month that appeared in the official news agency of the Iranian government, Iranian Republic News Agency (IRNA), Jaam-E-Jam 1 (the official Iranian TV channel directed at Europe), and the Iranian conservative daily Kayhan:
I) Iranian Woman Gives Birth to Frog
The Iranian Republic News Agency published a news article titled "Iranian Woman Gives Birth to Frog." The following is the article that appeared on June 27: 
"An Iranian woman gave birth to a frog in a bizarre labor in the southeastern city of Iranshahr Saturday. Gynecologist Varasteh, who confirmed the report said the woman, whose period had stopped for six months, underwent a sonography in May which showed she had a cyst in her abdomen, wrote the Farsi-language daily E'temad in its Sunday's edition. Following severe bleeding, the woman, who has not been named, gave birth to a live gray frog accompanied with mud. Varasteh believes the frog larva has most likely entered and grown in the woman's body.
"Other physicians argue that the larva has found its way into her body while she was swimming in a dirty pool, turning to a frog after the fetus has grown. And some specialists blame genetic disorders, saying the so-called frog has similarities with the human's fetus. The woman has two healthy children."
II) U.S. Beheaded Them Hostages in the Middle East
The editor of the Iranian conservative daily Kayhan, Hossein Shari'atmadari, who is close to Iranian Leader Ali Khamenei, wrote in an editorial that the true perpetrators of the decapitations of foreign hostages are none other than the Americans themselves. The following are excerpts from his article on June 24: 
"Some armed men whose faces are completely covered stand beneath a length of fabric hung behind them, on which is written in bold letters, 'There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Prophet.' This picture implies the masked men's allegiance to the motto written behind them. If the observer does not conduct a careful examination, there is no doubt that the masked men are extremist Muslims! At their feet, on the chair, sits Nicholas Berg, a 26-year-old American trader, bound hand and foot. The masked men threaten that if America does not meet their demands by the time the ultimatum expires, they will behead the trader. The ultimatum expires; America does not comply with the masked men's demand, and Nicholas Berg is beheaded.
"A few days later, Nicholas's body is found, but except for a single video clip there is no document about how he was murdered, or about the murderers' identity and motive. This video clip was aired by some television networks subject to or close to the American and British occupation forces.
"Who slaughtered Nicholas? According to what is implied by the video clip, the murderers were Muslims from among the opponents of the American and English occupation of Iraq. But where did the video clip come from? So far, no reasonable explanation has been given, and no answer showing even in the most basic sense that this document is authentic. There is no answer about the identity of the masked men and their citizenship, nor about dozens of other logical questions connected to this affair."
'Following Extensive Publicity of the Slaughter Senior American Officials' Feel Relief
"The item on the slaughter of this 26-year-old American trader and this video clip are being aired and published in the wake of the exposure of the barbaric and terrible torture of the Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghureib prison. Thus America and its allies face the greatest disgrace and the most shameful crime that they ever committed in their despicable lives. Likewise, world public opinion is very disturbed and angered by the terrible and repulsive crimes.
"Following the extensive publicity of the slaughter of Nicholas Berg, senior American officials feel they have been extricated from the feeling of strangulation. Based on the murder of the American trader, they are accusing the Islamic world of barbarism! And of the loathsome murder of innocents!
"White House spokesman Scott McClellan attributes the murder of Nicholas to the Muslims and threatens that the perpetrators of this crime will be hunted down and punished "
'Who Believes Muslims Were the Ones Who Beheaded the Three Hostages?'
"On Friday, June 18, a month and eight days after the murder of Nicholas Berg, another video clip with the same characteristics is aired. This time, the armed masked men about whom it is said that they are Al-Qa'ida members threaten the Riyadh government so it will release the Al-Qa'ida detainees held in Saudi Arabia. And here they slaughter Paul Johnson, an Apache helicopter pilot who was previously captured by them.
"On Tuesday, June 22, that is, four days after the slaughter of Paul Johnson in Saudi Arabia, another video clip is aired, with the same characteristics, and this time it is said that people from an Al-Qa'ida group slaughtered a South Korean citizen captured by them, Kim Sun-Il, and threw his body into the street
"Indeed, who believes, or permits himself to believe, that Muslims were the ones who beheaded the three hostages? Based upon what reasons, documents, or testimony can their murder be attributed to Muslims? Can a video clip, made by an unknown person, and the pictures of some armed masked men of unknown identity constitute reasonable [grounds] for attributing these murders to Muslims?"
'Nicholas Berg was Slaughtered at Abu Ghureib Prison by the Americans'
"A few days after the publication [of the news] of the murder of the American trader, a U.S. security official, Joseph Robinson, presented a shocking and documented report showing that Nicholas Berg was slaughtered by American military hangmen and that the place where the video clip was filmed was Abu-Ghureib prison.(  ) In a section of Robinson's report published in the Kayhan newspaper on May 23, 2004, it is seen that Nicholas is wearing exactly the same orange garment worn by the Abu Ghureib detainees. The yellow wall shown in Nicholas's video clip is the same yellow wall of the Abu Ghureib prison, clearly seen in the published pictures about the tortures at Abu-Ghureib. The tiles shown in the pictures of the tortures of the Abu Ghureib detainees are the same tiles shown in the pictures of the slaughter of Nicholas Berg. The white chair on which Berg sat and which is shown in the video clip is of the same kind as the chairs shown in the pictures of the tortures from Abu Ghureib prison. The armed masked men standing behind the American merchant are husky and white, and wearing bulletproof vests designed for American soldiers.
"Further on in his report, Robinson refers to Nicholas Berg's previous arrest by American soldiers and an interview with his parents. He stresses that these corroborations were sufficient for us to know that Nicholas Berg was slaughtered at Abu Ghureib prison by the Americans. And that those who killed him constructed the arena for the incident so we would think that terrorists slaughtered Nicholas Berg."
'Why Did Americans Slaughter Their Citizens and the Citizens of America's Allies?'
"Why did the Americans slaughter their citizens and the citizens of America's allies [so] horrifyingly and terribly ? [Why] do they construct ridiculous scenery and attribute the slaughter of the hostages to Muslims when their ugly and repulsive faces are exposed as a result of the crimes they committed and the massacre of innocent civilians and the barbaric tortures of the detainees and captives?
"The answer to this question is too clear for us to explain and analyze in depth With these terrible crimes, the Americans aspire to attain the following goals:
1. "To present a hate-inspiring image of Islam and of the Muslims and to justify barbaric military attacks on them that is, exactly the same goals as when they established the Taliban and the Al-Qa'ida group
2. "To respond to public opinion, particularly that of the U.S. and England, which sees the invasion of Iraq as unjustified, aggressive, and entangling and demands that the occupiers leave Iraq. In this way, America seeks to justify the continuation of the occupation of Iraq and the attack on the rest of the Muslim peoples. America is doing it under the cover of a struggle against peoples which, it claims, know no humanity and commit various types of crimes.
3. "Some of the countries that sent forces to Iraq, such as South Korea, are facing harsh protests by their peoples. By slaughtering hostages and attributing it to Muslims, America sows the seed of hatred and loathing of Muslims in the hearts of these peoples, and encourages their governments to continue cooperating with it.
4. "Among the Americans' main goals in organizing the ridiculous and certainly terrible performance of the slaughters is the distracting of public opinion from America's and England's barbaric crimes against the Abu Ghureib detainees."
III) Official Iranian TV Channel Claims Jews Were Involved in September 11th
MEMRI's TV Monitor Project (www.memritv.org) includes monitoring Iranian television stations such as Jaam-E-Jam 1, the Iranian government TV channel directed at Europe. On June 1, 2004, the station broadcasted a series about the September 11 terror attacks. The show included video clips of the O.J. Simpson murder case. The following an excerpt of the broadcast: 
"Ever since the establishment of the Zionist regime, the American strategy has been under the Zionist lobby's influence. Zionism, as expressed in the Jewish Protocols, nurtures in its mind the dream of taking over the world. With Bush's rise to power, it controls the White House with greater force.
"A short while before the blasts of September 11, Mercury, a local Pennsylvanian newspaper, reported that two Jews were arrested while filming the Twin Towers. At that time, Ha'aretz reported the arrest of five Israelis who had photographed the World Trade Center, a few hours before the blasts. Also, an editor in chief of an American newspaper who brought up Israel's involvement in the Twin Towers' affair was fired. Some hours after the Twin Towers were blasted, the FBI had arrested five Israelis who had planned to blow up the New York Bridge in the Manhattan and New Jersey area. Also, the absence of 4,000 Jews [working] in the Twin Towers strengthened the claim that they took a vacation on that day.
"A while afterwards, a source in American military intelligence raised details pertaining to an intelligence memo regarding Israel's espionage organization, the Mossad, and its role in the events of September 11. In fact, the claim that Israel was involved in the blasts of September 11 and used it as a basis of America's new strategy for fighting the world of Islam, disappeared in the media coverage, but world public opinion still believes this possibility."
Iran's Underground Church's 'Spontaneous Growth' Amid Persecution
29th of June 2004
Despite tragedy and persecution, a vibrant underground church is growing in Iran. After an earthquake on Dec. 26 devastated Bam and buried thousands of people under the rubble of their homes, Western churches sent relief to the ancient Iranian city.
With the situation in Bam opening doors previously shut, missions leaders believe the compassionate response of the worldwide church to the disaster could be a catalyst for the nation's explosive church growth.
Iran is located in the biblical region of ancient Persia -- the home of such Bible heroes as Nehemiah, Esther and Daniel. Acts 2 lists Elamites, Parthians and Medes (all Iranians) among those present at the feast of Pentecost celebration in the first century when the Holy Spirit came in power.
Today, the church in Iran is growing -- spurred by a fresh, sweeping move of the Holy Spirit and strengthened through the fellowship of suffering believers. Missions experts estimate 20,000-30,000 indigenous evangelical and Pentecostal believers today, most of them from Muslim backgrounds. Some experts -- citing an unknown number of "secret" believers -- claim the true figure could be much higher.
"In the last 20 years, more Iranians have come to Christ compared to the last 14 centuries," Lazarus Yeghnazar, 55, an Iranian-born evangelist now based in Great Britain, told "Charisma" magazine in the June issue, out now. The full report on Iran's underground church can be found in the magazine. "We've never seen such a phenomenal thirst," he added.
Missiologist Patrick Johnstone, co-author of "Operation World," estimated that Iran has 17,000 evangelicals, 7,000 charismatics and 4,000 Pentecostals. With annual church growth of 7.5 percent, Pentecostalism is the fastest-growing religious movement in Iran.
Everywhere, the charismatic influence is strong. Many indigenous churches practice prophecy and healing. Services, which are marked by vibrant worship and fervent prayer, can last for hours.
"They are hungry to learn, eager to discuss the Bible and, in particular, Jesus. They're searching for the truth." explained Tom White, director of The Voice of the Martyrs, an Oklahoma-based ministry to persecuted Christians worldwide.
He noted that the courage and spiritual passion of Iranian believers is a key factor in the "spontaneous growth" of Iran's house-church movement. Driven underground by persecution, thousands of Iranian Christians -- as many as 30,000, according to White -- meet in homes. They switch locations to avoid detection.
"In the past eight years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of converts from Islam," White said. "Much of the evangelism goes on inside people's homes."
Most Iranian believers shun the few official, state-sanctioned churches because the secret police scrutinize church membership rolls to root out what they call Muslim "apostates."
Although violent persecution has subsided, conversion to Christianity during the last decade has resulted in beating, imprisonment, torture and even execution. Despite the risks, some congregations continue to worship publicly -- even placing crosses on the front of their buildings.
Constitutionally, the rights of other religions are guaranteed but closely monitored. Christian proselytism is forbidden.
This just in from a student inside of Iran...
I am glad to tell you that the Mullahs and their state run TV stations were sad and shocked yesterday when the US handed over power to the people of Iraq.
It was sensible that they are surprised and lost the chance to harm Americans.
Moreover, they kept saying that US handed over power 2 days earlier to get rid of the quagmire in Iraq and hell knows that who is on the right side.
I believe this was a good signal to the people of Iran and the middle east countries.
Thank you America!"
Al-Qaeda Trials in Iran Could Take Years
Jun 29, 2004
Iran's government said yesterday that the Islamic Republic may take up to three years to put on trial captured members of the al-Qaeda network held in its jails.
Cabinet Spokesman Abdollah Ramazanzadeh reiterated Iran's position that Tehran would only extradite fugitives deemed not to have acted against the state, and from countries with whom Iran has an extradition agreement. "If not, they will go on trial in Iran.
However, it is a long process that could take two to three years," he said. In 2003, Iran confirmed it was holding senior members from Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, but has refused to identify them. The identity of those still being held has been the subject of intense speculation. Diplomatic sources and Arab press reports have pointed to the possible presence in Iran of the movement's spokesman, Sulaiman Abu Gaith, and its number three, Saif al-Adel, as well as bin Laden's son and al-Qaeda heir, Saad. Washington, however, has accused Iran's regime of harbouring and not arresting members of the network.
In February, Spain's top anti-terror judge Baltasar Garzon alleged al-Qaeda had a "board of managers" operating in Iran. Iran, which was hostile to Afghanistan's Taliban and al-Qaeda, has fiercely denied allegations that it is supporting the group. The government has also responded by criticizing what it sees as a failure by U.S. troops in Iraq to crack down on the People's Mujahedeen, the main Iranian armed opposition group, which Washington considers a terrorist organization.
Iran's Links to 9/11 & Al Qaida Come to Light (Pentagon Terrorists Stayed at Iranian Embassy House)
The Backgrounder ^ | June 29, 2004 Asia Time | Bill Gertz
Posted on 06/28/2004 9:59:31 AM PDT by cabrera
Former CIA analyst Doulgas MacEachin, a member of the 9/11 commission staff, said in testimony last week that Iran and its terrorist ally Hizbullah were liked to the Al Qaida terrorist group.
Other US intelligence officials said there is also evidence Iran is liked to the September 11th attacks.
According to the officials, two of the highjackers, Nawaf al-Hamzi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, who were aboard the aircraft that hit the Pentagon, had stayed at the Iranian ambassador's residence in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia before entering the United States in January 2001.
MacEachin also disclosed that Iran-Al Qaida ties were revealed in the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers residence complex that housed military personnel in Saudi Arabia. The bombing killed 19 Americans.
The attack was believed to be the work of a Saudi Shiite Hizbullah group with help from Iran.
Statoil Fined Over Iranian Bribes
June 29, 2004
Oil company Statoil has been found guilty of bribery and fined 20m Norwegian kroner (£1.6m; .9m). Norway's economic crime investigator Okokrim said consultancy fees were paid by Statoil to secure contracts in Iran.
The consultant Horton Investment was paid .2m to "influence decision-makers in the Iranian oil and gas industry," Okokrim said.
"Okokrim has... concluded that the agreement represented a criminal offence," the statement said.
Chief executive cleared
Former director of Statoil's international department, Richard John Hubbard, was also fined 200,000 Norwegian kroner, "or 20 days imprisonment in default of payment", for his role in the affair.
But the case against former chief executive Olav Fjell was "dropped due to insufficient evidence".
Last September, both Mr Fjell and Statoil's chairman Leif Terje Loeddesoel resigned over the affair.
Earlier this month, an internal Statoil investigation into the affair revealed "ethical lapses".
But the company's board insisted "there is no basis for criminal liability charges against either Statoil as an enterprise, or against individuals in Statoil".
Both Statoil and Mr Hubbard must decide within 30 days whether to accept the Okokrim penalty.
Statoil was found guilty under a law introduced on 4 July 2003. The law rendered illegal the agreement Statoil had with Horton, according to Okokrim.
"Subsequent to this date, there existed a duty to terminate the agreement," Okokrim said.
In the end, the agreement was only terminated on 10 September 2003 after the Norwegian newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv exposed the scandal.
The saga has damaged Statoil's reputation, in particular in Norway where corruption is widely frowned upon.
Moreover, "there is reason to stress that the investigation has not proved a basis for concluding that there was in fact any influencing of decision-making processes on the Iranian side", Okokrim said.
This is in line with the findings in Statoil's own report which found that the man behind Horton Investment, Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani, son of former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani, was not in a position to influence the awarding of oil and gas contracts to foreign firms.
Indeed, one investment banker with extensive experience from doing business in areas where corruption is rife told BBC News Online the whole affair was much ado about nothing.
"Fifteen million dollars over 11 years isn't going to buy a lot of influence," he said.
Iran Says Razed Site was Military Research Facility
June 29, 2004
The chief of the UN nuclear agency says Iran has told inspectors that an abandoned site near Tehran was used for military research, not for nuclear weapons activity as the United States alleges.
Speaking in Moscow Tuesday, International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohammed ElBaradei said Iranians informed investigators that the site was used as a physics institute and then for bio-technology research, before it was razed.
Mr. ElBaradei said investigators took environmental samples from the razed site and saw "relevant equipment."
Iran agreed last year to suspend all nuclear enrichment activities, amid international suspicions about its nuclear program.
Tehran has repeatedly insisted its nuclear program is aimed at the development of peaceful technology.
Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.
Alice's Middle East
June 28, 2004
The Jerusalem Post
The Middle East has supplied new evidence that it is the real-life equivalent of the Alice in Wonderland world. Consider these developments, both serious and farcical:
A few months ago, France, Britain, and Germany proudly announced their agreement with Iran that would allegedly stop Teheran developing nuclear weapons. They would help Iran build nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in exchange for Iran stopping its program.
Why Iran needs nuclear power plants when these have been discredited elsewhere in the world (Italy is closing down all its reactors; the Chernobyl meltdown of a reactor was a major catastrophe) and it has huge oil and gas reserves is, of course, an interesting question.
One French parliamentarian announced that the deal proved the European policy of compromise was superior to the American strategy of confrontation. Now Iran has announced it will resume building equipment that makes it possible to develop nuclear weapons in a way that openly breaks the agreement. (What it is doing secretly no doubt goes well beyond this.)
Will Europe now spring into action to fight Iran's plans?
The death toll in Iraq continues to rise as insurgents prove three things: They are quite willing to wreck the country in order to seize power; while they complain about the US occupation, they seem determined to make sure it is harder to end; while they claim to want an independent Iraq, they are doing everything possible to sabotage the creation of such an entity.
Readers are free to draw parallels to other, similar situations in the region.
Former President Bill Clinton's autobiography completely bears out the account of Camp David and the collapse of the peace process put forward by this writer and others. Yasser Arafat's refusal to make peace was the cause of the problem. Foolish or dishonest people will no doubt continue to promulgate the idea that the failure was Israel's, but they have no interest in the evidence anyway.
Clinton did, however, criticize former prime minister Ehud Barak for not accepting a Syrian offer that if he went with Damascus's view of where the border should be, it would consider revising the precise line of demarcation.
Syria was demanding territory on the Sea of Galilee something it never possessed legally in the post-1948 border. That would have let it claim half the lake and endangered Israel strategically.
There is a problem, borne out by Israel's experience, in agreeing in principle to a dangerous demand, the implication being that some compromise will be made later. Barak was right to reject this proposition.
Most of the world believes the Palestinians are fighting only because they want an end to Israel's presence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as well as a state of their own. Were this true the conflict would have ended long ago, certainly in the year 2000.
Now still another poll shows the sad truth. According to surveys taken by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center, whose head is a minister in Arafat's cabinet, 45 percent of Palestinians believe that the intifada's goal is to wipe Israel off the map, while 42 percent see the immediate goal as only forcing Israel out of the West Bank and Gaza Strip (which does not prevent a second round to get the rest).
Sixty-five percent favor continued violence against all Israeli targets.
Meanwhile, a poll by Bir-Zeit University's Development Studies Program shows that 54 percent doubt a Palestinian state could coexist with Israel even if there was a comprehensive peace treaty, while 38 percent favor coexistence. Sixty-one percent advocate continued armed struggle even if Israel pulls out of all Gaza.
Apologists argue that the poll's timing during a period of relatively high violence explains these results, but the outcome is consistent with earlier surveys. Apologists also claim that if Israel showed it wanted peace, the numbers would change dramatically.
But why should this happen if Palestinians continue to be told by their leaders, preachers, activists, and media that all-out struggle is necessary and total victory is both possible and the only proper patriotic and Muslim policy?
If Israel withdraws from all of the Gaza Strip and dismantles all the Jewish settlements there, will this spark some change of heart on the Palestinian side?
Last week I turned on my radio and got a shock. A BBC official was insisting that the network was tough on Israel. He concluded, "We are not pro-Israel. We are not anti-Palestinian."
Was this some kind of BBC admission of bias? Alas, it was a defense against demands for even more anti-Israel bias!
A left-wing media center claimed the British media were slanted in Israel's favor. For years researchers with well-documented cases about anti-Israel bias in the British media have been ignored, ridiculed, and kept out of the media.
Now radio programs and newspaper columns are thrown open to those insisting that the media is pro-Israel, with no equal time for the other side. What better proof could there be of the real bias and misrepresentation that is going on?
All this is happening when it is clear that the intifada has failed to win a victory. Yet there is no sign nor will there be as long as Arafat lives of any change in this losing strategy.
The writer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) and Turkish Studies.
Iran Voices Opposition to Nato Intervention in Middle East
June 29, 2004
Cihan News Agency
TEHRAN -- Iran voiced its opposition to NATO's intervention into the internal affairs of Middle East countries. Iranian Foreign Minister, Dr. Kemal [Kh]arrazi, referring to the NATO Summit in Istanbul, said on Monday that his country opposes NATO's intervention into the internal affairs of Middle East countries.
The remarks of the Iranian Foreign Minister came after the final declaration of the NATO Summit in Istanbul.
Following yesterday's meeting. NATO leaders reached an agreement to respond positively to the request of the Iraqi Interim Government for assistance with the training of its security forces, in accordance with UN Security Resolution 1546. The Iraq declaration, which was ratified by NATO leaders yesterday, encourages members to contribute to the support to be given to the Iraqi government.
[Kh]arrazi added that time will show whether the decision taken in the Istanbul summit will have an impact on regional countries or not.
The Fears of the Terror Masters
June 29, 2004
National Review Online
If we want a peaceful Iraq we will have to confront the mullahs.
Late on the night of June 24th-25th there was an "accident" in southeastern Iran, near Zahedan, in that fascinating area of "Iranian Baluchestan" down where Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan merge. According to Agence France Press, quoting local Red Crescent sources, a fuel truck "lost control and crashed into a police post, with the explosion engulfing other trucks, cars and buses."
But the pictures of the incident are not those of a truck out of control. It all took place at a border crossing, at a customs inspection station. At the time of the explosion there were eleven trucks parked there, and several of them were carrying explosives for the construction of bombs. They were headed for Pakistan and Afghanistan, where they would be delivered to the forces of Gulbadin Hekhmatyar, the terrorist chieftain who has long killed on behalf of the mullahs.
The explosion engulfed the entire column, which is why as some of the pictures show the columns of the customs building were shattered. Friends of mine in Iran insist that the trucks were deliberately blown up by Iranians hostile to the regime. In any event, the next day the 25th Pakistani border police arrested some 18 men trying to sneak into Pakistan. Fifteen of them were traveling on false Bangladeshi passports; the other three were Iranian agents. All are currently being interrogated by Pakistani authorities.
Meanwhile, Iraqi authorities have rounded up eight Iranian intelligence officers in Najaf, and one other a high-ranking officer in the Revolutionary Guards was caught while attempting to sabotage an oil pipeline.
As you see, the Iranians are frantically increasing their efforts to drive Coalition forces out of Iraq, to wreck the Iraqi economy and especially to inflate oil prices, which the mullahs hope will bring down the Bush presidency and to destabilize the fragile Karzai government in Afghanistan. They, and their Syrian and Saudi allies, are doing this because the liberation of Iraq is indeed threatening the authority of the remaining terror masters in Tehran, Damascus, and Riadh. The entire region is bubbling from the heat of democratic revolution, and you can see the fears of the terror masters as they steadily increase the repression of their own people. Syrians can now listen to accurate news broadcasts and calls for freedom from the new radio station launched by the Syrian Reform Party, which has prompted new crackdowns from the Assad regime. And in Iran, despite the unfortunate claim of Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage that the mullahs preside over a democracy, one international organization after another has exposed the monstrosities carried out daily by the murders who govern the Islamic Republic. Hands of Cain, an organization fighting capital punishment everywhere, awarded the People's Republic of China its award as top executioner for 2003, with Iran solidly in second position. Hands of Cain noted that 98.7 percent of all executions in the world last year were carried out by dictatorial, illiberal, or authoritarian states.
Just as in the case of terrorism, if you want to win the war against the world's leading executioners, you must fight for the spread of freedom.
The same holds for an independent press. According to Reporters Without Borders, Iran again wins the laurels for the greatest enemy of a free press. More than 120 newspapers have been banned since 2001, more than 50 journalists have been detained and 11 are still in detention, making Iran the biggest prison for journalists in the Middle East," the organization wrote in a letter to the European Union, which has appeased the mullahs for years. The letter bitterly continued. "One wonders what to make of the Iranian government's remark on 20 June that it is the European Union that should learn from Iran about human rights."
And, of course, there is the question of the Iranians' crash program to produce atomic bombs. It seems that no quantity of evidence, and no number of lies from Tehran, will convince France, Germany, and Great Britain to take any serious steps toward preventing this great catastrophe. Even our own leaders by far the most aggressive in the so-called Western world are only calling for stricter inspections and possibly a few additional sanctions, measures that would not seriously cripple the Iranian atomic project. But such proposals are indigestible to the feckless Europeans.
Western intelligence agencies are playing along. Just a year ago, our own experts along with those in Europe and Israel, were warning that Iran might conceivably produce an atomic bomb in three to four years, and possibly even less. I was warned by Iranians I respected that the ayatollahs had demanded a bomb by the end of last year, but that was clearly wrong. Now I am being told that the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has been promised success within a few months. Meanwhile, Western agencies have become more optimistic. They are now saying that Iran can't produce nuclear weapons until at the worst the end of the decade.
It is academically interesting, perhaps, to log the benchmarks so that we can evaluate the quality of such "intelligence," but it's madness to assume that we can fine tune this one. We have always been surprised at the speed with which others can build nuclear weapons. The Soviet Union, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and South Africa all joined the nuclear club much faster than we anticipated. The Iranians are fully capable of fulfilling this project, and their deceptive abilities are extraordinary. No Western leader should rely on the projections of his spymasters. We elect governments to protect us against worst-case scenarios, not sooth us with cheery forecasts.
Whatever the timing of the bomb, the dimensions of the Iranian threat are already clear enough for all to see. We now believe that Abu Musab al Zarkawi is the deus ex machina of the terror war against us in Iraq. He is working hard in Iran where he has created yet another organization for the ongoing jihad. It is called Jamiat al Jihad wa Altawheed (the Jihad and Unity Society). Watch for it, it's a growth industry.
If we want a peaceful Iraq we will have to confront the mullahs. There is no other way.
Michael Ledeen, an NRO contributing editor, is most recently the author of The War Against the Terror Masters. Ledeen is Resident Scholar in the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute.
The Fears of the Terror Masters [MUST READ]
June 29, 2004
National Review Online
U.N. "unconcerned" by Russia's atomic work in Iran
Reuters - World News
Jun 29, 2004
MOSCOW - The U.N.'s nuclear chief said on Tuesday he was unconcerned by Russia's construction of a nuclear power plant in Iran, brushing aside U.S. allegations that it could be used to develop atomic weapons.
The United States has strongly criticised Russia for pressing ahead with the $800 million reactor in Bushehr, saying Iranian scientists could use Russian nuclear know-how to make an atomic bomb.
"Bushehr is not apparently at the centre of international concern because Bushehr is a project to produce nuclear energy," Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told reporters.
"Spent nuclear fuel, which could be a concern, will be returned to Russia. It is not something that is of any concern on our part," he said after talks with President Vladimir Putin and other top Russian officials.
ElBaradei said Bushehr was not mentioned in the hour-long talks at Putin's residence outside Moscow.
"No, we did not discuss it. Bushehr is a bilateral project between the Russian Federation and Iran," he said.
To allay U.S. concerns, Russia has pledged to sign an agreement with Iran, obliging the Islamic Republic to return all spent nuclear fuel to Russia from Bushehr. Iran has denied it has any nuclear weapons programme.
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