The Power of Youth
July 12, 2004
Der Spiegel - NY Times
Young Iranians look to excessive drug use and parties to escape their stifling lives. Following the conservatives' victory in parliament, many have turned away from politics. Religious hard-liners want to see a return to the Islamic model state.
Assal means honey, and that's what she looks like, sweet and seductive. She has conspicuously framed her black eyes with Kajal, her pale eye shadow is dabbed up to the high painted arches of her eyebrows, and her lower lip is pierced with a shiny ring.
Assal lies, trance-like, in the arms of her boyfriend, Mehdi. They have just kissed. Assal inhales the hot smoke of the designer drug "Ice," which makes her "high and light." It's Thursday night, party time in Tehran.
But Assal's back is covered with welts that haven't healed yet. A few weeks ago, the 19-year-old received 74 lashes with a braided leather whip, in the basement of the Tehran morals court on Bucharest Street. When she could no longer stand the pain, she begged for mercy. But the judge only instructed his assistant to press the girl more tightly against the frame of an iron bed, and told the woman inflicting the blows to hurry up and finish the punishment.
The regime's volunteer religious police force, bearded Basij militias, had once again raided one of Tehran's forbidden parties, knocked down the house door, and dragged the guests, including Assal, to the nearest police station. Her crime: "immoral relations," contact with young men who are not members of her family.
When Assal left the court, her skin was raw from her shoulder blades to her ankles, and blood oozed through her tight jeans and black T-shirt
When asked about Assal's fate, ultraconservative politician Hamid Reza Terakki refers to her as "lost, led astray." The chairman of the strictly Islamic party, Jamijat-e Motalefe-je Islami, stands in front of a flipchart in his office in downtown Tehran and outlines progress on the "path of the revolution." He taps the tip of the path with a telescopic pointer. There, he says, are the "true, holy values, prosperity and the rules of Islam."
For the past 30 years, Terakki, 49, has been doggedly fighting for the revolution. He was imprisoned and tortured during the reign of Shah Mohammed Reza. He says that this only made him more resolute in his belief. Since the controversial victory of the conservatives in parliamentary elections and the shift in power in the Majlis in May, men like Terakki have been making a comeback. The reformers are disheartened. Their leader, President Mohammed Chatami, has failed to live up their expectations.
Terakki points to a branch on his drawing that shows the direction in which, as he claims, the more liberal course of recent years has led: far away from sacred values. He says that young reformers, in particular, believed in secularization, democracy and the West, instead of religion, Islam: "They have strayed away from the path, and now we are bringing them back."
But this will not be easy.
The longest street in Tehran is Wali-je Asr. It passes through the poor southern section of this city of seven million, intersects with Imam Khomeini Street in downtown Tehran, and then rises into the cooler north, passing the luxurious villas of the wealthy. This six-lane boulevard is flanked by endless rows of shops, ice cream parlors and oriental fast food restaurants. Women wearing tight garments and red head scarves hurry by, their lips painted red.
The driver of a Paykan, an Iranian version of a Volkswagen, flashes his brights at an attractive pedestrian. Like Audrey Hepburn, she wears her hair covered with a triangular scarf and dark sunglasses. The young woman turns around, hesitates, and gets into the car. The two drive around the block and exchange phone numbers. Then the girl gets out of the car again. Flirting is prohibited, all the more reason for it to be such a popular pastime.
The moral gendarmes of the religious police are in their element on Wali-je Asr and in Mellat Park, where couples openly hold hands. Police officers and female revolutionary guards clandestinely carrying weapons and handcuffs underneath their full-body, black chadors walk through the park, picking up young girls whose appearance seems too liberal. Trousers that end ten centimeters above the ankles are already considered too liberal and, therefore, prohibited.
"Mamnu - prohibited" is the word most commonly uttered. It has become a word devoid of meaning.
"Let them throw me in jail and whip me," says Puja Tajalifar, a 23-year-old architecture student. Tajalifar looks like a member of a Western pop band. He wears a "Nike Athletics" T-shirt. Tajalifar is in love with and walks with his arm tenderly draped around 22-year-old Tahere.
Nowadays young Iranians do as they wish. Their power lies in something that makes the rigid mullah regime seem old: their numbers. About 50 million Iranians, or more than 70 percent of the population, are under 30.
Especially the children in more affluent urban families are upwardly mobile. They watch TV from all over the world, even though satellite connections are illegal, download pop music from the internet, and order banned American movies from overseas relatives. They drink alcohol. And their drug parties are no less wild than those in Berlin or New York.
Tehran lives with every extreme. Drugs, AIDS and prostitution have become a mass phenomenon in a country that likes to see itself as a model for the Islamic world.
Dr. Bijan Nassirimanesh always wears rubber gloves and a mask over his mouth. His tiny office also serves as his medical practice. At his desk, a heroin addict is giving blood for an AIDS test.
Every day at 9 a.m., emaciated people congregate here in this back-alley basement to wash themselves, eat and drink, and have their wounds treated. Many started with opium, and now they are addicted to heroin.
Darius Hashemi, 36, comes to "Persepolis" almost every day. He fought in the war against Iraq. His hands were burned by poison gas, and shrapnel splinters are lodged in his left temple. But the worst thing is the fear that keeps recurring , that he is unable to shake. He lost his wife and his inner peace as a result of drug addiction, and now he is homeless. He earns money for drugs by collecting scrap metal. A third of the people here are homeless like Hashemi. For many, this is all the more reason to tune out.
At 9:30 every morning, Dr. Nassirimanesh' team heads into the streets to look for addicts in their hovels and abandoned houses. Massome, for example, lies in the shade of a public bathroom in Misak Park, wrapped in dirty blankets. She is 31, the mother of two children. She was married to a man who became a drug addict, and she soon followed suit. She worked as a prostitute to support her habit.
Designer drugs like Ice and Ecstasy come from Thailand and Malaysia. But heroin is the most readily available drug. Neighboring Afghanistan is the world's second-largest producer of opium. A daily fix in Tehran costs only about 6,000 Tuman, the equivalent of 6 Euros. Iran already has about two million addicts.
"Persepolis" employee Behros Shakuri, 34, is an addict himself, and he is HIV-positive. But the topic of HIV is taboo, even more so than in the West.
Conservative politicians like party head Terakki indefatigably issue statements like: "We live according to the rules of Islam, and that is why we have so few cases of AIDS."
6,400 HIV-positive individuals are officially registered in Iran. However, experts estimate that more than two-thirds of heroin addicts have already become infected.
Internally, the Iranian government pays close attention to reality. When the number of AIDS cases in prisons exploded eight years ago, the government initiated an astonishingly pragmatic program: HIV patients were treated at no charge, and drug addicts were given access to methadone treatment without having to overcome bureaucratic hurdles. But none of this is mentioned in the conservative newspapers.
Shirin is 19 and belongs to a minority of radical students. She wants the government to be overthrown: "They must go. I am prepared to fight."
Shirin sits on her bunk bed in a student dormitory on Kargar Street in the northern section of the city. She has long, black hair, and wears modest makeup. She is candidate for a degree in chemical engineering, and she rarely goes to parties and never takes drugs. Shirin is looking for conflict: "I don't want this deceitful double standard. I want to say what I want, live as I will, and believe in whomever I wish." She has tacked a poem by Persian poet Ahmed Shamlu onto the wall: "If you cannot live in freedom, spread your wings and die happily in freedom."
Shirin carefully observed how the fundamentalists prepared the shift in power from the reformists to the conservatives. How the Guardian Council, the powerful controlling body of mullahs surrounding religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni, removed every popular reformist politician from the list of candidates. How young people then turned away in frustration and boycotted the elections, because they could no longer identify with corrupt, absent-minded mullahs who preach drinking water while themselves drinking wine, and then proceed to fill their own pockets. Shirin has nothing but contempt for the regime.
Last Friday was the fifth anniversary of the student riots in Tehran. At the time, in 1999, religious fanatics forced their way into a student dormitory and beat the sleeping students. A young man died when he was thrown from the fourth floor. The students took to the streets, demanding an investigation and more rights. More than a thousand were arrested, and many were never heard from again. This year, the police were already prepared with a strong presence on the streets, but the expected violent resistance on the part of students never materialized.
The power issue is a non-issue, at least for now. "They are stronger, because of their force," says Venus, a 26-year-old student.
Until recently, Venus still believed in the possibility of change in Iran. In a class on political sociology, the professor, a reformer, had his students analyze which states operate a "totalitarian system." 90 percent of the students named Iran. "We had an open discussion. It was - wow," says Venus.
Those days are long gone.
The conservatives have once again molded the image of the new parliament. The women wear the black meghnae, which completely covers their hair. Instead of debating human rights and freedom of speech, delegates discuss the supposed American defeat in Iraq and the increase in poultry prices.
Tehran is like a museum of the revolution 25 years ago. Walls are plastered with posters of martyrs and larger-than-life images of Ayatollah Khomeini, his index finger raised. "Down with the USA" is written in large letters on the side of a building. The stars on the American flag are replaced with skulls. Next to the image are Western ads for Braun mixers and Sony TVs.
When will Iran explode? Even those who yearn for a coup believe that the time is not now. "I'm powerless," says Amir, 19, an industrial design student, briefly removing his Walkman headphones. He's been listening to a Metallica CD. He's more interested in his girlfriend and the next party than in politics.
"I plan to emigrate," says Amal, but so far she hasn't made it past her drug-induced world.
"We will reach our goal in ten years," believes politician Terakki, again tapping the tip of his path of the revolution with his pointer: "Only the devout in our institutions, no drug addicts, no alcohol, no AIDS." Satisfied, he retracts his pointer and puts it into his pocket.
Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan
Iran Police In Fashion Crackdown
July 12, 2004
Iran's morality police have made several raids in Tehran, in an apparent crackdown on women who flout the strict Islamic dress code. Witnesses said dozens of young women were held in the raids on shopping centres and shops in the capital.
Police also confiscated several items of clothing deemed to be too revealing.
After winning parliamentary elections in February, hardliners warned they would not tolerate what they described as social corruption.
However, the clampdown could be the usual summer anti-vice operation, correspondents say.
Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran's laws say all young women must wear the veil and a long coat that conceals their figures, or face fines or even imprisonment.
Witnesses said scores of police - including female officers in chadors - raided the Milad commercial centres in western Tehran and took away dozens of young women in special minibuses.
Shops selling fashion clothing for women - especially bright figure-hugging coats - were also targeted.
The police chief in Tehran recently warned that anybody caught involved in what he called social corruption would be punished, the BBC's regional analyst Sadeq Saba says.
Reports from other major cities suggest that similar harsh measures are being adopted there, he adds.
In the historic city of Isfahan, police recently banned women who were improperly veiled from entering public places, the country's official news agency Irna reported.
It said police in the city also banned the playing of live music in reception halls and at public events.
Since February's victory, Iran's conservatives have been putting pressure on the authorities to fight what they call the erosion of Islamic values, our analyst says.
The hardliners are angry that women are progressively defying the rules by wearing shorter, tighter and brighter coats, especially during the scorching summer months.
But many observers believe that the crackdown will be counter-productive in a country with a young, educated and increasingly rebellious population, our analyst adds.
Brain Drain Problem Hitting Critical Mass
July 12, 2004
In recent years, young Iranian university graduates have been immigrating to developed countries in droves. Some experts consider the brain drain phenomenon a prevailing tendency among the youth, believing that it is difficult to prevent this tendency.
This trend imparts positive and negative messages to society. The negative message is that there is a problem in retaining educated people, while scientific exchanges are a positive point of the phenomenon.
Scholars residing in developed countries could help their own countries by making connections for scientific exchanges.
Ideally, efforts should be made to encourage educated Iranian expatriates to return in order to make use of their talent.
It should be noted that 120 out of 240 young Iranian intellectuals who were awarded prizes at scientific competitions have immigrated. More than 90 of them are residing in the United States.
Persian Gulf states such as the United Arab Emirates intend to upgrade their international universities in order to attract students from neighboring countries, especially Iran, but Iranian officials have not adopted any policy to prevent this.
According to an International Monetary Fund report, Iran stands in first place in emigration among 91 developing and developed countries and 150 to 180 thousand Iranians immigrate to other countries every year.
Sociologists believe that the sevenfold worldwide rise in the brain drain during the past four decades is a complicated multidimensional phenomenon that has various scientific, social, and financial causes. Thus, the problem should be examined in a comprehensive manner.
According to statistics compiled in the United States, 105,000 Iranians immigrate to the U.S. annually, putting the country in the third place after India with 228,000 immigrants and China with 165,000 immigrants.
In addition, over 80 percent of Iranians studying in foreign universities, and especially those studying in the U.S., do not plan to return to Iran.
University professors believe that the brain drain declined after the victory of the Islamic Revolution since most of the Iranians with masters degrees who returned to Iran hoped to contribute to the countrys development. Nevertheless, this tendency did not continue for various reasons. During the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war and afterwards the brain drain increased and reached a critical level recently.
Turkey has recently begun to attract educated people from developing countries. Although it is not a developed country, it has started programs to attract educated people from developing countries and could begin to attract Iranian students.
The fact that many educated Iranian expatriates do not intend to return home is a cause for concern. What is the difference if this phenomenon is called a catastrophe, a difficulty, or a current trend? What is significant is that officials of the Science, Research and Technology Ministry and the countrys other officials do not have any specific plan to deal with the negative consequences of this phenomenon.
AFGHAN POLITICIANS WANT ELECTIONS DELAYED TWO YEARS
By Safa Haeri
Posted Monday, July 12, 2004
PARIS, 12 July (IPS) As the Afghan electoral Commission separated the presidential elections from the legislative races, Afghan analysts and politicians expressed resentment, saying time is not yet ready for any kind of elections before at least two years time.
The Commission decided to keep the presidential elections on 9 October, but delayed the legislative vote until next April. Under the Afghan constitution presidential and parliamentary polls were to be held as close together as possible. The announcement ends weeks of haggling over the date for elections, which were originally due to take place simultaneously in June.
As it goes, the presidential election is tailor-made for Hamed Karzai, one analyst said, referring to the present American-backed and installed Afghan Prime Minister.
Mr. Karzai, who belongs to the majority Pashtun tribe, was nominated by representative of Afghanistans ethnics and provinces, including powerful commanders who had gathered in Bonn, Germany, late 2001 after the ruling Taleban regime had been booted out by American forces.
He was latter confirmed by an extraordinary Loya Jirga, or a national council of the elders. His mandate has already expired and the elections have been delayed twice, missing June and September deadlines.
All the dates for the elections have been decided too hastily. Time is not ready for such events in Afghanistan, because of the generalised atmosphere of insecurity, because that except the capital, other areas of the nation are outside the control of the government, because people are not yet disarmed and there are no proper system for communications, Seyyed Pir Eshaq Gilani, a candidate to the president elections pointed out.
Several prominent Afghan politicians and political parties and five candidates sent a joint letter to the United Nations General Secretary calling for the delay in the elections for at least two years, citing the lack of security, continuation of fighting in several areas and also the absence of equal opportunities for other candidates except Mr. Karzai.
However, the United States backed the decision to hold presidential polls in October, calling it a "milestone" on the road to constitutional and representative government.
Zakim Shah, Head of Afghanistan's Joint Electoral Management Body, said it would have a "negative effect on public opinion" if the vote did not happen in October.
But the presidential mandate will be only partial because voter registration has proceeded slowly, especially in the south and southeast of the country, where insurgency by Taleban and Al-Qaeda remnants has stymied the process.
So far 6.5 million of Afghanistan's estimated 10.5 million eligible voters have registered to vote but in 19 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces less than 50 percent of population have so far put their names on electoral lists.
Afghanistan's October presidential polls are a democratic milestone, but to give the country real grass-roots democracy authorities must disarm regional warlords and stem surging violence ahead of next year's parliamentary vote, Mr. Torab Mostowfi, an Iranian journalist who covers Afghan affairs told Iran Press Service.
Election officials said Friday that the already-delayed parliamentary vote would be put off again until April to allow more time for voter registration, the disarming of militia and the strengthening of Afghan security forces.
"It's encouraging that there is the prospect of the people of Afghanistan going towards polling in the time which was promised, the Afghan month of Mizan", presidential spokesman Jawad Ludin told the French news agency AFP.
Remnants of the ousted Taleban regime have threatened to disturb the polls and have attempted to intimidate people, mostly women, into not registering and in two recent attacks, gunmen killed 16 men carrying registration cards at a roadblock in Oruzgan province.
Some 6.5 million people of an estimated 9.8 million eligible have enrolled to vote, although participation has been notably lower in the southern regions.
Election officials stressed that the coming months can be used to improve the security situation and called on the government and the international community to "continue and intensify.... their efforts to strengthen the national army and the national police, and to achieve broader disarmament".
Mr Karzai is expected to win another term as president, though some political analysts in Kabul think the poll may go to a second round as up to a dozen rivals split the vote.
Candidates now have until the last week of July to announce their intention to run formally, which they must do 75 days before the election.
Mr. Latif Pedram, a candidate from the Afghanistans National Congress (ANC) said although he also think that conditions are not ripe for elections, yet, considering the situation, the ANC backs the dates for the presidential election.
Both Mr. Pedram and Gilani said with all the governments huge possibilities of all kinds to his service, Karzai looks certain of winning the race.
They also said that the reason Washington also presses for keeping the Afghan presidential election on 9 October is to allow the American president George W. Bush presenting the Afghan elections as a major victory for himself, as a man who has restored democracy and freedom to both Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Americans say they want restore freedom and democracy in Afghanistan. But that is not enough. All we hope is that they continue helping us fighting the Taleban and terrorism, reconstructing the war-ravaged nation, but do not interfere in our affairs, letting us to decide on our own government, Mr. Gilani told the Persian service of Radio France |International.
ENDS AFGHAN ELECTIONS 12704
Iran rules out probable Israeli attack on Bushehr plant
LONDON, July 12 (IranMania) - Iran explicitly blasted Sunday a possible air strike by Israel on the country's nuclear power plant in southern Bushehr, which Tehran is building with the help of Russia, Iran's State News Agency reported.
"No country in the world is in a position to militarily attack Iran," Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters, adding neither is there any sign to indicate that Tel Aviv is considering to attack the plant.
Iranian officials say the Israelis are pointing the finger at Iran in an attempt to avoid censure for Israel's nuclear weapons program.
Under a policy of "strategic ambiguity" Israel refuses to admit or deny having nuclear weapons. International experts estimate it has between 100 and 200 warheads.
Iran has severely warned the United States and Israel against attacking the country's nuclear facilities.
Last week Irans supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned the United States that any attack on Irans interests would be met with a global response.
"If the enemy attacks our scientific, natural, human or technological interests, the Iranian people will cut off its hand without hesitation and place in danger the interests of the aggressor everywhere in the world,"AFP reported as saying in a gathering in the western city of Hamedan.
Tehran believes that the story of 'probable air attack on Iran's nuclear sites' has been "invented by Tel Aviv for propaganda".
Israel alleges that Iran is continuing with its program of uranium enrichment, which, if left unchecked, would make it capable of producing a nuclear bomb by the year 2008.
Russia is building Iran's first nuclear power plant in a deal worth $800 million and set to create thousands of jobs. While the work is a big money spinner for Moscow, Russia has been under pressure from the UN's nuclear energy agency, which is unhappy with elements of Iran's nuclear program.
The United States claims Iran is secretly building a nuclear bomb. Iran insists its program is purely for civilian purposes.
"Bushehr is a bilateral project between the Russian Federation and Iran. Bushehr is not currently at the centre of international concern because Bushehr is a project to produce nuclear energy and agreement that the spent fuel which could be of concern, will be returned back to Russia," the UN's atomic energy chief, Mohamed El Baradei said to The World Today's reporter.
El-Baradei paid a surprise visit to Israel last week, the purpose of which was to convince the Jewish state to join the list of states that have signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. His visit to Israel came as part of IAEA attempts to make the Middle East a nuclear-free zone an initiative which the UN watchdog launched six years ago.
Ottawa Warns Iran on Kazemi
July 13, 2004
MONTREAL -- The Iranian government is blocking Canadian observers from the trial of a security official for the murder of Montreal photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, prompting Ottawa to warn it could retaliate with tough diplomatic or economic sanctions.
"They were supposed to get back to us last weekend," Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham said in an interview yesterday. "They haven't gotten back to us. We assume their intention is not to accept observers."
The Iranian government still has four days to change its mind and allow Canadian monitors into the trial, which is to begin Saturday in Tehran.
It's the latest sign that Canada's relations with Iran are in a downward spiral over the suspected murder of Kazemi, who was detained by Iranian security forces in Tehran a year ago.
The 54-year-old Iranian-born Canadian was brought to hospital 77 hours later, in a coma from fatal head injuries that an Iranian government commission concluded were inflicted by her captors.
One of the security men who detained Kazemi is on trial for "semi-intentional murder."
But human rights groups, as well as Iran's 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner and human rights activist Shirin Ebadi, widely believe the suspect, while involved, is also a scapegoat for other, senior officials who were involved.
In a letter to Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Kamal Kharrazi, obtained by the Star, Graham leaves no doubt that relations between the two countries are in danger of deteriorating further over the July 10, 2003, death of Kazemi, who was arrested while taking picture outside a Tehran prison.
"You are aware that progress in the Kazemi case has an impact on relations between our two countries," Graham warned. "We will regard the handling of the trial as a signal of the depth of the Government of Iran's commitment to human rights."
"We do consider this extremely important," Graham added in the interview, taking issue with the public criticisms of Kazemi's son, Stephan Hachemi, that Ottawa hasn't done enough to bring his mother's body back to Canada or obtain the autopsy to determine her exact cause of death.
"It's a high-profile case," said Graham. "It's a matter of journalistic freedom. It's a matter of human rights in Iran."
He did not specify what sort of sanctions Ottawa would take if the Iranian government doesn't back down.
But he said "there are no impediments to us taking actions," explaining they could range from economic and trade sanctions to the suspension of high-level diplomatic relations. Selecting sanctions, however, needs to be weighed very carefully. While negotiations can be frustrating to those who don't know what is going on behind the scenes, an official said, aggressive diplomatic protests with police states can actually slow down progress.
"We were asked by Canadians and Stephan Hachemi to be very tough on Iran and we were," said an official, noting Canada managed to have Iran condemned at the U.N. for the death of Kazemi.
But the official said "such actions create consequences" and may now be causing Tehran to drag its heels in resolving the case.
"Iran," said Graham, "is doing its best to stonewall on this." One of those stonewalls is Iran's insistence Canada violated the rights of a Canadian Iranian who was killed by police in British Columbia last summer. A police investigation found that Kevyan Tabesh was shot when he raised a machete at a police officer who found him vandalizing a car.
Clearly frustrated, Graham labelled such a comparison "apples and oranges" and dismissed Iran's claim in his letter to Iran's foreign minister.
"Any claims of parallels between the deaths of Keyvan Tabesh and Zahra Kazemi are utterly invalid," he wrote.
"There can be no comparison between the shooting of a young man brandishing a machete against an officer of the law and the murder of an unarmed woman at the hands of interrogators, behind the closed doors of a prison, following an illegal arrest."
Are Iran and Al Qaeda Vying for Influence in Yemen?
July 13, 2004
The Christian Science Monitor
BEIRUT, LEBANON -- Could Yemen follow on the heels of Afghanistan and Iraq as the third major venue in the war on terrorism?
A bloody Islamist insurrection in the mountainous north which has cost more than 200 lives and a statement from an Al Qaeda group vowing to turn Yemen into a "quagmire" for the US would suggest that the remote country at the tip of the Arabian peninsula is gearing up for conflict.
But instead of an Al Qaeda campaign against the US and the Yemeni government, a conflict in Yemen may involve a power struggle between militant Sunnis and Iranian-backed Shiites, analysts say.
Al Qaeda despises the Shiite branch of Islam as much as it hates the US. Therefore, analysts say, Iran may back Shiite groups to counter the spread of Al Qaeda's influence in Yemen, which would threaten the country's traditionally moderate Zaidi Shiite population.
"I don't think Iran will allow Al Qaeda to set up a base in Yemen which could threaten the Zaidi Shiites," says Nizar Hamzeh, professor of politics at the American University of Beirut.
On July 1, the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigade, an Al Qaeda affiliate, released a statement vowing "to drag the United States into a third quagmire, that is after Iraq and Afghanistan, and let it be Yemen, God willing." The brigade has previously claimed responsibility for the March 11 rail bombings in Madrid as well as numerous attacks in Turkey and Iraq.
With the US military presence in Yemen minimal it seems unlikely that Yemen would become a venue for the war on terror. However, Yemen is the most populated and poorest country in the Arabian peninsula, with unemployment as high as 40 percent, making it fertile recruiting ground for Al Qaeda.
In October 2000, a suicide bomb attack killed 17 US sailors and damaged the USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden. The same year, the oil supertanker Limburg was damaged in an attack thought to have been carried out by Al Qaeda just off the Yemeni coast.
"Thousands of jobless and hopeless Yemeni youths are an easy target for transnational and domestic extremist groups," says Abdullah al-Faqih, professor of politics at the University of Sana in Yemen. "Furthermore, Al Qaeda may also benefit from the Yemeni government's inability to effectively control some remote areas in the far north and in the long coastal area."
Yemen is a potentially convenient refuge for Al Qaeda militants fleeing a crackdown in Saudi Arabia. Large stretches of the Yemen-Saudi border remain undefined and run through desert and mountainous terrain. Still, the Saudi and Yemeni authorities have increased security cooperation, with the former laying a concrete-filled pipe along the frontier to impede illegal infiltration.
"More important, tribes along the borders have come to realize the heavy cost they may incur in case they harbor such elements" says Professor Faqih.
The Yemen government is sharing intelligence with the US, has expelled foreign Islamists, tightened up visa restrictions, and arrested militants.
At the end of June, authorities shut down all unregistered religious schools, seen as breeding grounds for Islamic militants. That decision appears to be connected connected to a violent insurrection waged for the past month in Saada, a mountainous northwest province. The revolt is led by Hussein al-Houthi, an anti-US Shiite cleric who runs a religious school and heads a group called Al Shabab al-Moumin, the Youthful Believers.
"It is imperative to make a distinction between the ongoing clashes in northern Yemen and Al Qaeda's various groups and leaders," says Faqih. "Al Houthi's group and Al Qaeda may share a common anti-American tone, but "Houthi hates Al Qaeda more than he hates the state."
Houthi's rebels have been flying the flag of the Iranian-backed Hizbullah organization and the militant cleric has been paying his followers $100.
"This is a huge sum. Where does he get all this money? Who is the party financing him and to what end?" asked Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in an interview last week with Lebanon's Al Mustaqbal newspaper.
Hizbullah has denied any involvement with Houthi, saying the party's policy "is not to intervene in other country's affairs."
The Zaidi Shiites are thought to comprise about one third of Yemen's population of 20 million with the moderate Shafi Sunnis making up the rest. Although the Shafi Sunnis historically have been tolerant of the Shiites, that could change if Al Qaeda grows, says Professor Hamzeh.
"It seems that Al Qaeda has been successful in radicalizing the Shafi Sunnis," he says. "I can definitely see a future clash between the Zaidi Shiites and the newly mobilized Shafi Sunnis."
Khamenei Says U.S., Israel Behind Abductions in Iraq
July 13, 2004
TEHRAN -- Iran's Supreme Leader said on Tuesday he believed the United States and Israel, rather than Muslims, were behind the kidnapping and killing of foreign nationals in Iraq.
"We seriously suspect the agents Americans and Israelis in conducting such horrendous terrorist moves," the official IRNA news agency quoted Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying in a meeting with visiting Singaporean Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong.
"(We) cannot believe that the people who kidnap Philippine nationals, for instance, or beheaded U.S. nationals are Muslims."
Militant groups opposed to the presence of U.S.-led forces in Iraq have claimed responsibility for the kidnappings of foreign nationals there.
A group calling itself the Islamic Army in Iraq demanded the withdrawal of Filipino troops by July 20 in return for the freedom of Filipino truck driver Angelo de la Cruz.
Iran frequently trades barbed rhetoric with the United States and Israel, which accuse Tehran of sponsoring terrorist groups and developing nuclear arms.
But Khamenei said Iran was committed to fighting terrorism.
"Terrorism is a loathsome, horrible phenomenon and the Islamic Republic of Iran has deeply felt its consequences ever since many years ago and that is the reason why we consider the campaign against terrorism not only essential but also of great importance," he said.
Zero Tolerance for Terrorist Sponsor Sites [Excerpt]
July 13, 2004
The Wall Street Journal
Martin E. Weinstein
Two July 7 articles published in The Wall Street Journal Europe point to an incomprehensible gap in the war against terrorism. The commentary "Iran's Terrorist 'NGO'" by Nils Boms and Reza Bulorchi, reports that the government of Iran is sponsoring an "Army of Martyrs," which claims to have 10,000 volunteers for suicide attacks on the U.S., including attacks with atomic weapons.
"U.S. Plans Massive Convention Security" by John Mintz from the Washington Post tells us that intelligence officials have "incontrovertible" evidence that al Qaeda and like minded groups are planning to launch terrorist attacks in the U.S. before the November election, similar to the March 11 Madrid train bombing that influenced the Spanish election.
However, the massive measures we are taking to prevent terror attacks in the U.S. are limited to domestic policing. They ignore the foreign-policy and military dimensions of terrorism that are clearly spelled out in the article on Iran's Army of Martyrs.
Needed: A Firm European Position on Human Rights in Iran
July 13, 2004
With the EU's human rights dialogue stalled in Tehran, and with the Iranian capital's streets coming to life with popular dissent, the Union should take a much firmer position against the regime.
Ahead of demonstrations planned to commemorate the students' uprising of July 9, 1999 in Iran, riot police lined the streets of the capital, Tehran, under the pretext of traffic control, but in a muscle-flexing move aimed at dissuading would-be rioters. No permits were issued for any demonstrations, and universities were announced closed on the day.
The international position on human rights violations in Iran has not been supportive enough of the popular trend. Unlike the rather firm US policy, the European Union's ambiguous position on the issue has not only left the Europeans themselves divided on the issue, but, more importantly, it has weakened the international stance vis-à-vis the Iranian regime.
Since it took power in 1979, the clerical regime ruling Iran has been condemned a record 50 times by various bodies of the United Nations, on grounds of violation of the most basic rights of the Iranians. The regime was first condemned by the UN Human Rights Commission on rights-related grounds in 1984. But in 2001, after having condemned the rights violations in the country for more than 10 years, without any improvement in the situation on the field, the Commission changed its position and ended its 17-year long scrutiny of the country. Since then, supported by European countries, the clerics have evaded condemnation by the Commission.
At the same time that they went lenient on Iran in the Commission, the Europeans began a so-called dialogue over human rights with the regime, aiming to make it "comply with international standards." As recently as 14 June, 2004, representatives from the Union sat with their bearded counterparts to discuss human rights, for the fourth time in three years -- in Tehran, of all places.
A couple of days before the EU delegation left for Tehran, a 65-page report on rights violations released by the New York-based Human Rights Watch said that the dialogue between the EU and Iran on human rights has failed to yield any tangible results.
A statement issued by the EU presidency after the talks, on June 20, confirmed the fears: "The EU continues to be gravely concerned at the continued and numerous violations of human rights in Iran."
Iran's chief justice Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi called the statement "hypocritical." The regime's foreign ministry spokesman called it "unrealistic." Mohammad Larijani, the Iranian chief negotiator, claimed that western judgments and values on human rights did not apply to Iran.
Such positions do not seem to be stemming from a likely change of heart, least a change of attitude. A letter from the international press rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders to the European Union on June 29 states: "One wonders what to make of the Iranian government's remark after the talks that it is the European Union that should learn from Iran about human rights."
The European position on human rights in Iran is harmful in a variety of ways:
-- The clerical regime in Iran exploits the EU position to split ranks between the EU and the US specifically, and among the other international community members in a more general sense.
-- With such timid positions by the EU, students in Tehran's streets feel more and more abandoned in a world where international support is imperative for any serious movement for democracy.
-- The absence of a principled approach leaves the regime with the illusion that it can bargain on more dangerous issues such as terrorism as well. In spite of demands by a number of countries, the clerics have refused to turn over internationally sought terrorists they have been harboring since years, hoping to use them as future bargaining chips.
-- Europeans are the first to pay a price for this policy of appeasement. The humiliation British Royal Marines underwent at the hands of Iran's Revolutionary Guards is but a recent, albeit shocking example of the wrong message Iran has been getting from the EU.
With the EU's human rights dialogue stalled in Tehran, and with the Iranian capital's streets coming to life with popular dissent, the Union should take a much firmer position against the regime. A good beginning would be to think about a new, firm resolution condemning the regime for its violation of human rights in the upcoming UN General Assembly in September.
Nooredin Abedian is an Iranian engineer based in Germany, and a former lecturer at Tehran University. He writes from time to time on Iranian issues and politics.
Bush Again Urges Iran to Abandon Its Nuclear Weapon Program
July 13, 2004
U.S president George W Bush once again urged North Korea and Iran to abandon nuclear weapon development on July 12.
President Bush said in his speech at the Oak Ridge National Nuclear Laboratory in Tennessee where nuclear weapons from Libya are stored, We`re working with responsible governments and international institutions to convince the leaders of North Korea and Iran that their nuclear weapons ambitions are deeply contrary to their own national interests," Bush said.
Bush claimed: Three years ago, a private weapons proliferation network was doing business around the world. This network, operated by the Pakistani nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan, was selling nuclear plans and equipment to the highest bidder, and found willing buyers in places like Libya, Iran, and North Korea, insisting, We have ended one of the most dangerous sources of proliferation in the world, and the American people are safer.
He thanked the 60 nations that are supporting the Proliferation Security Initiative and the 30 nations with forces serving in Iraq in his speech.
Kerry Statement on Reducing Nuclear Threats
July 13, 2004
Comunicados de prensa
Senator John Kerry released the following statement today in response to the Presidents speech in Tennessee:
The gravest threat we face is terrorists or hostile states getting their hands on a nuclear weapon. Since that dark day in September, have we reached out to our allies and forged an urgent global effort to ensure that nuclear weapons and materials are secured? Have we taken every step we should to stop North Korea and Irans nuclear programs? Have we restructured our intelligence agencies and given them the resources they need to keep our country safe?
The honest answer, in each of these areas, is that we have done too little, often too late, and even cut back our efforts. Its not enough to give speeches America will only be safer when we achieve results. The facts speak for themselves -- there was less nuclear weapons materials secured in the two years after 9/11 than in the two years before. North Korea has reportedly quadrupled its nuclear weapons capability in the past year. Iran is developing a nuclear weapons capability. Afghanistan has become a forgotten front in the war on terror.
As president, my number one security goal will be to prevent terrorists from gaining weapons of mass murder. I have proposed an ambitious and aggressive plan for dramatically reducing the threats from nuclear terrorism -- we will greatly accelerate work to secure nuclear materials at risk and invest the time and leadership needed to address the nuclear threats in North Korea and Iran. I will appoint a National Director of Intelligence so that there is one individual with responsibility and accountability for intelligence operations.
20 Al Qaeda Suspects in Custody in Iran
FOX News Alert | 7/13/2004 | televised on FOX News
Posted on 07/13/2004 10:31:40 AM PDT by GVgirl
Suspected Militant Surrenders, Returns to Saudi
July 13, 2004
RIYADH -- A suspected Saudi al Qaeda militant, who had appeared in a videotape with Osama bin Laden, was flown back to the kingdom from Iran after he surrendered under a government amnesty, state television said on Tuesday.
It said Khaled al-Harbi, also known as Abu Suleiman al-Makki, had been on the Iranian-Afghan border and had contacted Saudi Arabia's embassy in Tehran in response to the amnesty.
Television showed a wheelchair-bound and bearded Harbi being carried off a plane on arrival in the kingdom with his family. It did not say when he surrendered or returned to Saudi Arabia.
A Saudi security source said Harbi was the man seen talking with Saudi-born al Qaeda leader bin Laden in a videotape in which the two praised the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. cities. He said Harbi had fought in Afghanistan and Bosnia.
"He is big in the sense that he is one of the Saudis that were close to bin Laden," the security source said, adding that Harbi had not been involved in a spate of militant attacks in Saudi Arabia claimed by al Qaeda.
Harbi was the third person to surrender since Saudi Arabia announced on June 23 a one-month government amnesty aimed primarily at militants who have attacked Westerners, government targets and energy sites in the world's biggest oil exporter.
Iran said Harbi was repatriated at his own request.
"Mr. Khaled al-Harbi..., following Saudi Arabia's announcement of an amnesty, entered our country illegally from a neighboring country and asked to be handed over to his own country," Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said in a statement.
For over a year, Saudi Arabia has been battling militants loyal to al Qaeda, which carried out the September 11 attacks.
"I came in obedience to God and the (Saudi) ruler... There is no doubt that this is a gracious initiative by King Fahd and his crown prince," the bespectacled Harbi told Saudi television.
"There is no doubt this is an opportunity which every wise man who has faith in his heart should take advantage of and return to this country," he added.
The Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement that Harbi did not have any official documents when he arrived at the Saudi embassy in Tehran. The mission had issued the necessary papers for him and his family to fly them home "after coordination with Iranian authorities," the statement said.
The ministry said Harbi had been in the Iranian-Afghan border region and contacted the Saudi embassy in Iran "expressing his readiness to take advantage of the royal amnesty." It said Harbi would be taken directly to hospital.
The security source said that Harbi was not among Saudi al Qaeda militants believed to be in Iranian custody.
Iran is holding several al Qaeda suspects but has not revealed their identities or nationalities. Riyadh has asked Tehran to repatriate any al Qaeda militants it may be holding.
Iran Seizes Two Qatar Boats in Latest Gulf Dispute
July 13, 2004
Khaleej Times Online
TEHERAN -- Irans navy has seized two Qatari launches that strayed into its waters, the Interior Ministry said on Tuesday. The launches were intercepted within Iranian waters and escorted to shore, a ministry official told Reuters. He gave no further details.
The action was the latest in a string of similar incidents involving Iran and its [Persian] Gulf neighbours, the most controversial of which was Irans capture last month of three British naval vessels operating out of Iraq and their eight crew.
Analysts say the flurry of incidents reflects heavy traffic and stricter enforcement of territorial boundaries in the [Persian]Gulf.
The eight British naval personnel were held for three days after their craft were seized in the narrow Shatt al-Arab waterway that separates southwestern Iran from Iraq.
British officials later accused Iran of forcing the British boats -- which have yet to be returned -- into Iranian waters, a charge Tehran denied.
Since the start of June at least five Iranian fishing boats have been confiscated by Kuwait, the UAE and Qatar for straying into their waters.
Iranian officials have said an Iranian was killed in June when the Qatar navy opened fired on his fishing boat.
Iran, which has sought to improve relations with its Arab neighbours under reformist President Mohammad Khatami, has in turn seized several fishing boats from the UAE.
Iran Says Will Resume Nuclear Talks With EU Trio
July 13, 2004
TEHRAN - Iran said on Tuesday it would resume negotiations later this month with Britain, Germany and France over its disputed nuclear program. The announcement, made by Iran's Supreme National Security Council and carried by the official IRNA news agency, gave no details on the location or likely content of the talks.
The EU trio brokered an agreement with Iran last year under which the Islamic Republic agreed to suspend uranium enrichment and to allow snap inspections of its nuclear facilities.
But Iran was angered last month by a tough resolution sponsored by the three European powers which rebuked Tehran for poor cooperation with the UN's nuclear watchdog.
Iran accused the EU trio of reneging on the agreement signed in Tehran last October and announced it would resume the manufacture and assembly of uranium enrichment centrifuges which can be used to make bomb-grade material.
Tehran strongly denies U.S. accusations that it is using a civilian nuclear program to hide a covert bid for atomic arms.
A French diplomatic source declined to confirm the fresh round of talks with Iran but said "France continues to remain favorable to dialogue" with the Islamic Republic.
A German Foreign Ministry spokesman said Berlin would continue the talks with Iran but declined to give a date or place for any meeting.
London also said it was keeping the channels open.
"Talks take place at an official level all the time and as there was no break in the dialogue, there will not be a resumption as such," said a Foreign Office spokesman.
Harder Line Urged Over Iran
July 13, 2004
Kuwait News Agency
LONDON -- "Why won't the Government stand up for Britain and say so?" Straw called on Ancram to produce a constructive alternative rather than þsimply raising the volume.
Are you proposing that we take military action against Iran or are you þproposing that we break off diplomatic relations with Iran? I don't happen to þthink that either of those are sensible", he said.
Hoon's statement also revealed that a deadline for Iran to return the þservicemen's equipment and weapons expired on June 29.
Two weeks later they still apparently have not been returned and yet the þsilence from the Government is deafening", Ancram continued.
I have to say your timidity on this matter is quite extraordinary". þOf course improving relations with Iran is important but not at any price".
Can't you see that a relationship based on giving in to aggression will þalways be suspect and that if Iran wants genuinely to lift the veil of suspicion that hangs over her she should be publicly pressed to apologise and þto return our equipment forthwith?''
Straw replied that the Government makes judgments about how best to maintain our relations on the basis of the best information available''.
Very occasionally the use of a megaphone and a rant, which seems to be your approach, might be appropriate. However, I think that on this occasion neither a megaphone or a rant is going to secure the return of these boats and equipment".
We oppose and deplore the masking of the service personnel but as a result of the diplomatic relations we have with Iran we were able to get that crew returned very quickly indeed", he said.
Britain was pursuing a policy of constructive but conditional engagement'' with Iran, the Foreign Secretary added.
We aim to support Iranian efforts to reform while making clear our concerns about Iran's policies in areas such as its nuclear programme, human rights and its attitude to the Middle East peace process", he said.
The Shatt al-Arab incident came against a background of already strained þdiplomatic relations between Britain and Iran.
Iranians were angered when Britain helped draft a critical resolution at the International Atomic Energy Authority, condemning Tehran's refusal to open up its nuclear programme to international inspections.
Islamic Republic of Iran Threatens the West
July 14, 2004
The Middle East Media Research Institute
In recent weeks, prominent Iranian figures have issued statements against the West, both within the government and in the newspapers close to the regime. These statements include threats to U.S. and European interests and targets throughout the world. The following is a collection of recent threats and is part of a comprehensive report on Iran's nuclear policy, to be published soon:
In a speech to the residents of the city of Hamedan on July 5, 2004, Iranian Leader Ali Khamenei said: "We, the Iranian people, within the borders of our country, will cut off any hand that harms our scientific, natural, human, or technological interests. We will cut off the hand that is sent to invade and work against our people's interests. We will do this with no hesitation.... If the enemy has the audacity to harm and invade, our blows against it will not be limited to the borders of our country... If someone harms our people and invades [our country], we will endanger his interests anywhere in the world."(1)
Iranian Revolutionary Guards Political Bureau head General Yadollah Javani wrote in the conservative daily Kayhan, which is close to Iranian Leader Ali Khamenei: "Threats of this kind are nothing new, but Iran must respond to these threats.(2) To deal with the invader, Iran will use all its capabilities within and outside Iran. It seems to me that in his [Hamedan] speech, the leader was referring to the use of all means of force, as Iran has in its possession all means of force on the highest level.
"...The converging of millions of Iranian youth imbued with the spirit of Shehada [martyrdom] in the Basij forces(3)... along with a courageous leader, the trend of the Islamic awakening, and the consolidation of many supporters around Iran's Islamic revolution can [all] go into action in times of crisis and play their part in light of these threats.
"Today we have in our possession long-range smart missiles which can reach many of the interests and vital resources of the Americans and of the Zionist regime in our region. Thus, if the enemies show stupidity and make any mistake towards Iran, [Iran] will certainly use all the means and capabilities at its disposal.
"Today we enjoy high deterrent ability, and if the enemy acts in madness and wants to try his luck, he will, as the leader said, quickly see his black fate, and will regret acting against Iran's Islamic regime."(4)
In an editorial, the July 6, 2004 edition of Kayhan stated: "The entire Islamic Middle East is now a volatile and tangled trap, and will be set off by the smallest bit of silliness - and will reap many victims of the sinful adventurers... Indeed, the White House's 80 years of exclusive rule are likely to become 80 seconds of Hell that will burn to ashes everything that has been built.
"Iran's counter-response is likely to be called 'sudden death' and 'the Angel of Death suddenly revealed.' That very day, those who resist [Iran] will be struck from directions they never expected. The heartbeat of the crisis is undoubtedly [dictated by] the hand of Iran."(5)
The above threats are in addition to earlier threats that were reviewed by MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 181, "The Internal Debate in Iran: How to Respond to Western Pressure Regarding Its Nuclear Program" of June 17, 2004.(6) The main threats were:
1. The recruitment and training of thousands of Iranian volunteers by Iran's Revolutionary Guards for suicide attacks against Western, European, and U.S. targets in Iraq, and their dispatch to Iraq.(7)
2. Resumption of Iran's project for long-range Shihab 4 and Shihab 5 missiles, capable of reaching Europe and the U.S., by order of Iranian Leader Ali Khamenei.(8)
3. Statements by senior Revolutionary Guards officials about a plan to eliminate "Anglo-Saxon civilization" using missiles and martyrdom [suicide] bombers, and about "29 sensitive targets" in the West, already identified by Iranian intelligence with the aim of blowing them up.(9)
(1) Kayhan (Iran), July 6, 2004. See also Clip No. 140, July 5, 2004, www.memritv.org .
(2) These statements were in response to an article in The Washington Times which he claimed was about Israel's ability to attack Iran's nuclear facilities within 80 seconds.
(3) The Basij is a paramilitary youth militia loyal to the regime.
(4) Kayhan (Iran), July 8, 2004.
(5) Kayhan (Iran), July 6, 2004.
(6) http://www.memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=ia&ID=IA18104 .
(7) Reports on registration of volunteers, a volunteer suicide bombers registration convention, and the dispatch of suicide bombers to Iraq appeared in Kayhan (Iran), June 1, 2004; Sharq (Iran), June 5, 2004; Jomhouri-ye Eslami (Iran), June 6, 2004; Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 28, 2004 and June 14, 2004; Sharq (Iran), May 27, 2004 http://www.sharghnewspaper.com/830307/gover.htm , and also at the Rouydad website (Persian) that is opposed to the regime, http://rouydad.info/news/index.aspx?UID=2513 .
(8) Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), June 14, 2004.
(9) In a subsequent television interview, Dr. Hassan Abasi, theoretician of Revolutionary Guards intelligence, head of the Revolutionary Guards' Center for Doctrinaire Affairs of National Security Without Borders, and Iranian Leader Ali Khamenei's representative at the Iranian broadcasting authority, said, "If the interests of Iran are endangered, if our Iranian identity is endangered and our civilization encounters obstacles, the Westerners must know that we will certainly not allow tranquility to anyone. We will not allow anyone in the West to sit in tranquility in his home while Iran encounters problems. Therefore, I reiterate: If there is no security for our Islamic and Iranian civilization, and if Iran and if our civilization are harmed, the others must certainly expect that they too will have no security." Jaam-e Jam 2 TV (Iran), June 22, 2004.
HUMAN RIGHTS: Judiciary Blocks Canadian Observers from Slain Journalist's Death in Custody Trial
[The Islamic governments judiciary blocked Canadian observers from the tiral of an intelligence ministry agent in the death in custody of Canadian-Iranian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, Canadas foreign affairs minister said.]
Radio Farda Newsroom
July 13, 2004 - We assume their intention is not to accept observers, Canadas foreign affairs minister Bill Graham said in an interview on Monday. The Islamic government officials were supposed to get back to us last weekend, They haven't gotten back to us, he said.
The trial of intelligence ministry official Mohammad-Reza Aqdam-Ahmadi is scheduled to begin on Saturday, and the judiciary has four more days to admit Canadian observers.
You are aware that progress in the Kazemi case has an impact on relations between our two countries, Graham warned in a letter to foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi. We will regard the handling of the trial as a signal of the depth of the Government of Iran's commitment to human rights, he added.
We do consider this extremely important, Graham said in an interview, responding to criticism from Kazemis son, Stephan Hachemi, who said on the anniversary of his mothers killing that the Canadian government has not done enough to bring his mothers body back to Canada for autopsy.
Its a high-profile case, Graham said. It's a matter of journalistic freedom. It's a matter of human rights in Iran. He accused the Islamic government of stonewalling on Kazemis case.
Grahams letter and interviews were the latest indication of worsening of Canada-Iran relations, a year after Kazemi, 54, died of head injuries, which according to a presidential investigative commission of cabinet ministers, were inflicted during an interrogation in the Evin prison. Kazemi had been arrested outside the prison for taking pictures of prisoners families gathered outside.
The agent going on trial on Saturday was one of the men who detained Kazemi. He is charged with semi involuntary manslaughter.
Human rights organizations, including Paris-based Reporters sans Frontiers charged that the defendant is a scapegoat preventing higher officials involved in the case from going on trial.