Al-Qaeda's Kurdish Allies Find Home in Iran
July 13, 2004
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
IWPR reporters in Mariwan, Iran and Biyara, Iraq
The Kurdish militant group Ansar al-Islam is reorganising in Iranian Kurdistan, say residents of the area, Iraqi security sources and local Iranian officials.
The radical group's presence - an open secret in the small towns of this mountainous region - appears to have, at the very least, the acquiescense of the Iranian authorities, and some sources report that Iranian intelligence offers logistics and possibly military training.
Indeed, IWPR spoke to an Iranian official who says that he was ordered to assist the militants, as well as a local Kurd who was recruited by them for training.
Despite the ideological gap between the radical Sunni Islamism of the Ansar and the Shia Islamism of the Tehran government, both Iranian and Iraqi observers believe that there is room for an alliance of convenience between the two parties.
While the Kurdish militants need room to rebuild, the Iranians can use them to undercut the influence of secular Kurdish nationalism in the area, and simultaneously have a bargaining chip in dealings with the Americans.
Ansar al-Islam was established in September 2001, first under the name Jund al-Islam, in Iraqi Kurdistan. Most of its founding members were Iraqi Kurdish Islamists who fought in Afghanistan and had strong ties with al-Qaeda.
According to Ansar prisoners in Iraq, many received al-Qaeda training in Afghanistan and then returned to Iraq to conduct attacks against the secular Kurdish political parties, and later against US targets in Iraq.
Ansar's fighters fled the mountains of Iraq last March after an American cruise missile pounded their headquarters. Ground assaults on Ansar-held areas continued throughout the war, and most of the surviving fighters, thought to be close to 800, fled east into Iran.
"When we were fleeing to Iran after the US bombing, the Iranian authorities singled out the Ansar fighters and their families, and took them away in military cars," said Golala Salih, a resident of the Iraqi town Tawela which sits on the Iraq-Iran border and was the former stronghold of Ansar al-Islam.
"They did not let us [ordinary refugees] cross into Iran."
Like most non-Ansar people named in this story, Salih is not her real name, as it has been changed for her protection. Most Ansar operatives are identified but they use code names, which change with their location.
The Ansar gunmen and their families who crossed the border are now in camps at the foot of an Iranian mountain range - the first in Baramawa village, 20 kilometres west of Mariwan, and the Darbandi Dizly camp further to the west, say residents of the area.
In addition to being outsiders, the militants, who wear the short-hemmed garment and grow the trimmed beard associated with Sunni radicals, are highly conspicuous in the region.
The area is renowned for its spectacular beauty, and, perhaps more importantly for the Ansar gunmen, it is surrounded by forests and rugged mountains and lies close to the Iraqi border.
Ansar fighters and their families are now mixed in with the local villages, leaving the residents feeling fearful and resentful.
"Since these gunmen and their families have been living here, we have been in constant fear," said Mam Rasoul, an elderly resident of the village. "The US might fire missiles at them, or the Kurdish peshmerga (soldiers) might come here to get them."
Others are resentful of the apparent financial support the Islamic fighters are receiving. "They get food rations and money every month," said Gulnaz, an elderly woman who lives in Daranaxa village near the Darbandi Dizly Ansar camp. She says that the Ansar group's living standards are better than long time residents of the area.
A high-ranking Iraqi security official said that while the foot soldiers of Ansar are living in these camps "their leadership and cohorts in other radical Islamic parties are spread over the Iranian Kurdish cities and towns of Bokan, Sanandij, Mariwan and Saqiz".
Two prominent Kurdish newcomers in the area bear the same names as Iraqi Ansar activists known to Iraqi intelligence.
Both of them have been spotted by locals going to a three-story house in Mariwan's Zrebar Road occupied by Iraqi Kurds with beards and short-hemmed trousers, which locals say was until recently one of Ansar's two headquarters in the town. The second is a two-story marble building near its Stadium Roundabout.
One of the two local Ansar leaders is Sheikh Jamal, who lives in the Laylakh district of Mariwan. His neighbours told IWPR that he spent the last five years in Afghanistan fighting with al-Qaeda and that he is now teaching military tactics to Ansar al-Islam new recruits.
The Iraqi security official said that they know of a Sheikh Jamal but could not confirm that he is the Mariwan Ansar official. "They use different code names in different cities," said the official. "Some had a codename in the town and different one in the mountain."
The second leader is Zryan Hawleri, whom Iraqi officials say is a top Ansar operative from Arbil in Iraq, now living in Mariwan.
Residents of Mariwan say that an out-of-town Kurd by that name currently owns a small corner shoe repair store.
A nearby shopkeeper said that he does not believe that Hawleri has come to Mariwan for business, "He is not working most of the time and receives many visitors."
According to a local Iranian interior ministry official, Hawleri has probably received a new identity from Iranian intelligence.
The official, who disapproves of the Islamists' presence in the region and fears they will radicalise the local population, showed IWPR a copy of an Iranian ID card with Hawleri's picture.
It was issued by the Islamic Hawza of Iran, the Islamic Shia school of Iran, with the name of Zryan Ali Pour, an Iranian surname.
The official said he was ordered by the Iranian Ittilaat intelligence service to provide special permits, required by foreigners to rent houses, to other likely militants, including two Afghans wearing Salafi garb who rented a mud-brick house in a district heavily populated by Ansar members.
A neighbour said that during Ramadan the two men received 15 to 20 visitors every night. Most had long beards and short Kurdish trousers, another Salafi trademark. "The meetings would last until midnight," the neighbour said.
The official, as well as an IWPR reporter, have also seen Kurdish Islamists being given rides in the Iranian-made pickups and landcruisers favoured by the Ittalat.
IWPR also met a young man who claims he signed up with the group in the town of Sanandij for 250 US dollars a month.
"Ansar al-Islam was able to attract 150 to 200 young Kurds from the poor neighborhoods of the town," the recruit said.
He said he is not a supporter of the group's ideology but joined only for the income. He further said that he disapproves of Ansar tactics which he says exploits needy people. "Leading people in Ansar would not themselves do what they are asking the poor foot soldiers to do," he said.
He told IWPR, on the condition of anonymity, that the Sanandij branch of the group has ties with a newly-formed group in Pakistan called Tabligh, or proselytizing.
Once Ansar leaders feel they can trust a recruit, he said, they are sent to the Iranian city of Zahedan on the Pakistani border for political and military training - and while he has not been trained himself, 35 new recruits left for training in two camps in May.
The local ministry of interior official also said that militants are sent for training in Baluchistan, the region of Iran in which Zahedan is located.
An Iranian journalist who has extensively covered militant affairs in Afghanistan says that before the toppling of the Taleban regime, Kurdish militants received training in the Afghan city of Herat.
After 2001, he says, the Iranians allowed fleeing al-Qaeda operatives to set up in two camps on the Afghan and Pakistani borders, one of which lies near Zahedan.
The Ansar presence in Iranian Kurdistan has coincided with the growth of Sunni radicalism in the region.
Mullah Muhammed is the most prominent preacher of Yakshawa village near the city of Bokan. Locals refer to this Iranian Kurdish cleric as the Ansar head there.
Mullah Muhammed is a popular preacher. One young government employee who attends Muhammed's Friday sermons regularly says that he understands Islam "better than anyone else" and can explain things very clearly.
"He attacks the Kurdish secular parties of Iran and Iraq, and says that jihad is the only right path for Islam," said the government worker.
Ansar also maintains what appears to be a propaganda apparatus in Mariwan. The sermons and speeches of Ansar leaders and other radical Sunnis are on sale in the town's shops.
Studio Dangi Islam, the Voice of Islam, is a record shop that sells CDs of speeches of Mullah Krekar, the Ansar leader, Osama Bin Laden, Taleban leader Mullah Omer, the Iraqi Kurdish Islamic Group leader Ali Bapir, and other hard-line mullahs. It also sells video CDs of Ansar battles in Iraqi Kurdistan.
In a number book stores, some of the most prominent titles are biographies of Bin Laden and Mullah Omer that were published in early 2003 by the Iranian ministry of culture. The ministry banned them in mid-2003 but copies still circulate.
US Senate Condemns Iran Over Nukes
July 24, 2004
The Jerusalem Post
The US Senate late Thursday passed by unanimous voice vote a resolution urging the International Atomic Energy Agency to refer Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons to the UN Security Council.
The Senate said the Security Council may need to impose economic and diplomatic sanctions on Iran to thwart the program. The House approved a similar vote in May.
The Senate resolution expressed "the deep concern of Congress regarding the failure of the Islamic Republic of Iran to adhere to its obligations under a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the engagement by Iran in activities that appear to be designed to develop nuclear weapons." The IAEA is expected in September at its next meeting to refer the issue of Iran's alleged nuclear weapons' program to the UN Security Council.
The Senate vote came just before the Congress broke for summer recess, and a day after the release of the final report of the commission that investigated the September 11 attacks.
The commission found "strong evidence that Iran facilitated the transit of al-Qaida members into and out of Afghanistan before 9/11, and that some of these were future 9/11 hijackers." The commission said the US government should further investigate the topic.
Earlier this week, a new Israeli intelligence estimate predicted that Iran would have a nuclear bomb by 2007 and said international scrutiny of the program had delayed development.
The Senate resolution, in addition to calling for the UN Security Council to intervene, also urged the European Union "to condition economic and commercial agreements with Iran on the full compliance by Iran with its commitment not to pursue nuclear weapons."
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee applauded passage of the resolution. "This issue is especially vital given the IAEA's revelations regarding Iran's blatant pattern of deception and obfuscation, and the overwhelming evidence of its pursuit of nuclear weapons and repeated violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty," the lobby said in a statement issued Friday.
Iran Rejects Claims of 9/11 Links
July 25, 2004
Iranian officials have dismissed allegations in the report of the 9/11 Commission of links between Iran and Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda movement. A foreign ministry spokesman said some claims were US election propaganda.
Last week's report on the 11 September 2001 attacks stirred speculation about relations between Tehran and al-Qaeda.
It said there was evidence of contacts after the mid-1990s but no evidence of Iranian knowledge of, or involvement in, the plans to attack the US.
It did however suggest that, in advance of the attack, about eight of the hijackers left Afghanistan via Iran.
Asked about accusations of co-operation with al-Qaeda, the foreign ministry spokesman said that much of what was being said in the US at the moment was just election propaganda fodder.
He said attempts to prove links between Iran and al-Qaeda had failed - nobody believed them, he said, because of the deep ideological differences between the two.
At the height of al-Qaeda's involvement with the Taleban regime in Afghanistan, Iran nearly went to war with its eastern neighbour.
It frequently repeats the charge that it was the Americans who created al-Qaeda and the Taleban.
But Tehran has not denied the accusation that some of the al-Qaeda hijackers may have crossed Iranian territory.
It admits its border is long and hard to control, and compares it with the US' own border with Mexico.
Iran also says it has arrested and deported hundreds of al-Qaeda suspects.
It is continuing to hold an unspecified number of others including, it is believed, some senior figures. But it refuses to say who they are and it is resisting pressures to hand them over to the United States.
9/11 Executive summary (5.9MB)
9/11 Commission report in full (7.4MB)
link to original article
What's Iran Got to Do With It?
July 25, 2004
NEW YORK -- While the Sept. 11 commission found that a relationship between Al Qaeda and Iraq existed in the past, it also pointed to another country with potential ties to the terror network: Iran
The report released Thursday by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States says that bagged terrorists like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh confirmed that several of the Sept. 11 hijackers traveled through Iran en route to or from Afghanistan.
At least eight of the hijackers took this route to take advantage of the Iranian practice of not stamping Saudi passports, the captured terror suspects allegedly said. They denied any other reason for the hijackers' travel through Iran.
In his State of the Union address in January, President Bush included Iran along with Iraq and North Korea in the so-called "axis of evil."
Former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani said Friday that it's not certain that the hijackers passed through the country.
"Every day, thousands of people come and go... Such people usually carry false passports. Moreover, many can illegally cross the border. It has been always like this," Rafsanjani said in a sermon. "Even if it's true that they have passed through Iran, can you really incriminate Iran with this bit of information?"
Binalshibh is a suspected coordinator of the Sept 11. attacks on the United States and has acknowledged meeting with Mohamed Atta, the hijacking ringleader of the mission and pilot of one of the commercial jetliners that demolished the World Trade Center's twin towers. Binalshibh and Atta, an Egyptian, met in July 2001.
Shaikh Mohammed reportedly was the head of Usama bin Laden's terror military operations and was the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya, Bali nightclub bombings, the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and other Al Qaeda attacks.
The two captured terrorists also denied any relationship between the hijackers and Hezbollah which is a State Department-sponsored terror given safe harbor by Iran according to the Sept. 11 commission's report.
'We Know of a Relationship'
There is strong evidence that Iran facilitated the transit of Al Qaeda members into and out of Afghanistan before Sept. 11; some were future 9/11 hijackers, the report concluded. There is also circumstantial evidence that senior Hezbollah operatives were closely tracking the travel of some of the hijackers into Iran in November 2000.
"We know of that kind of collaboration," commission co-chairman Thomas Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey, said of the Iran-Al Qaeda relationship Thursday. But he said there's "no evidence whatsoever" that either Iran or Hezbollah knew the specifics of the attacks or helped further plans for them.
"We know of a relationship; how deep that relationship is ... that's going to require more research," Kean said.
The panel's other co-chairman, Lee Hamilton, said that relationship "really does need more investigation."
"It is our view that Al Qaeda planned this operation and carried it out by themselves," added Hamilton, a former Democratic representative from Indiana.
Former Justice Department prosecutor John Loftus told FOX News that it's no secret Iran funded and housed training schools, like the Mashad school, for terror groups like Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad. And Al Qaeda members got to use the schools for free, Loftus said.
"Iran is the last rogue state really funding Al Qaeda," he told FOX News. "They're doing a pretty good job of this. It's more than just telling the border guards, 'when the Al Qaeda guys come through, don't put a stamp on their passport so they can't trace them back to Iran.' This was knowing, willful assistance. This is notch higher. Something that the intelligence community missed."
Loftus, who had access to some of the highest security clearances when he was a prosecutor, said it's now being discovered that, for example, that the Khobar towers bombing in Saudi Arabia was masterminded out of Iran using Al Qaeda and Hezbollah operatives. Those bombings killed 19 U.S. soldiers and wounded 500 more.
"The Saudis were trying to cook together deal with Iran saying, 'you keep the Al Qaeda out of Saudi Arabia and we won't tell the Americans that you, Iran, were one of the evil partners behind the Khobar towers attack,'" Loftus said. "Saudis have learned that you can't make a deal like that. It's a devil's bargain."
No Evidence of an 'Official Connection'
Interim CIA Director John McLaughlin said on FOX News Sunday that it's not surprising that eight of the Sept. 11 hijackers passed through Iran.
"Iran has been on the list of state sponsors of terrorism for many years," McLaughlin said. "Iran is the place where Hezbollah, an organization that killed more Americans that Al Qaeda before Sept. 11, draws its inspiration and its finances."
He said the United States has "ample evidence" of people of ill repute allowed to move throughout Iran.
"However, I would stop there and say we have no evidence that there is some sort of official sanction by the government of Iran for this activity," McLaughlin said. "We have no evidence that there is some sort of official connection between Iran and Sept. 11."
Bush Vows to Continue Checking Iran Connection
Bush said Monday the United States is exploring whether Iran had any role in the Sept. 11 attacks.
"We're digging into the facts to see if there was one," Bush said in an Oval Office photo opportunity. "We will continue to look and see if the Iranians were involved ... I have long expressed my concerns about Iran. After all it's a totalitarian society where people are not allowed to exercise their rights as human beings."
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said it's been known that there have been senior Al Qaeda members in Iran "for some time" and that Iran has been helping Hezbollah in moving terrorists down through Syria into Lebanon, then down into Israel.
"So we know that Iran has been on the terrorist list," Rumsfeld said. "We know that Iran has been notably unhelpful along the border of both Afghanistan and Iraq."
Many are wondering whether Tehran will be the next U.S. target in the War on Terror.
Loftus said one option the United States can utilize to put pressure on Iran to stop its supposed dirty deeds such as allegedly trying to make nuclear weapons is to establish a naval blockade. American and British officials are pondering when to ask the United Nations for action against Iran, he said. There are meetings in September and November on the topic.
"My suspicion is, in September we'll really have evidence that Iran is lying through their teeth," Loftus said. "We'll put in a naval blockade and without oil exports, in three weeks the economy of Iran will collapse and it will either be, neutered or there will be a regime change from within.
"We're not going to invade Iran but probably going to blockade it with the full backing of the United Nations, that's what is in store for the fall," he continued.
FOX News foreign affairs analyst Alireza Jafarzedah noted that besides the Sept. 11 report detailing the known Iran-Al Qaeda ties, Iraqi officials have said Iran is the main source of foreign fighters behind the insurgency in Iraq.
"I think it all boils down to what policy the U.S. wants to pursue to contain the threat of Iran's nuclear weapons and the bigger problems Iran is posing," Jafarzedah said. "They [U.S.] should pursue a zero tolerance policy."
FOX News' Bret Baier and Trish Turner contributed to this report.
DoctorZin: The following is a MUST READ Article.
NEEDED: A MORE SERIOUS APPROACH
by Amir Taheri
July 26, 2004
Reading the 570-page "The 9/11 Commission Report" is like going through a French nouveau-roman. It starts with the promise of uncovering an ingenious plot but offers nothing but re-heated platitudes served with a pseudo-philosophical garnish.
The reader ends up asking: where is the beef?
The trouble starts with what looks like a misunderstanding of the mission of the commission.
When it was set up many thought that the commission was there to find out who were the people who wish to kill Americans and why; and , once those questions were addressed, to come up with suggestions for neutralizing those people and destroying the environment that breeds them.
The commissioners, however, appear to have embarked upon an altogether different mission.
The commissioners tell us that they had three aims:
To offer "the most complete narrative" of the 9/11 events. But that, in fact, is the task of historians and may not be possible for years, if not decades to come. There is still so much that we do not know. What the report offers is a collage of numerous articles and books that have already covered the "event" side of the 9/11 event. One more narrative adds little that is useful.
To assemble as many personal testimonies as possible of the survivors of the attacks and their families. This, though, a laudable effort, is of little help in identifying the ideology and the machine that produced the killers in the first place.
To offer recommendations about ways and means of preventing similar attacks. Normally, this should have been the "meat" of the report. It is not. It is, in fact, its Achilles heel. The reasons are not hard to imagine.
The commissioners have a politico-technocratic mindset. They are the products of a political culture that assumes that all problems have technical and bureaucratic solutions.
Such solutions are standard: create a new layer of bureaucracy, and spend some more money. This has, of course, failed to solve the social problems that the US itself has faced for decades, and is certainly not going to put the fear of God in Osama bin Laden and his like.
The commission itself was a typical product of such a way of thinking. So it is not surprising that it came up with only two new proposals: one is to create a Cabinet post dealing with intelligence, a twin for the existing Homeland Security tsar.
The other is a suggestion to spend money on improving the lives of disaffected youths in Arab and other Muslim countries. I am not kidding!
WHO ARE THEY?
Less than 10 per cent of the report, basically its Chapter II, is devoted to the key question: who are these terrorists, where do they come from, and what makes them tick?
The report says: "We learned about an enemy who is sophisticated, patient, disciplined, and lethal. The enemy rallies broad support in the Arab and Muslim world by demanding redress for political grievances, but its hostility towards us and our values is limitless."
Leaving aside the odd syntax,-obviously someone insisted that the last phrase be added- the paragraph quoted above shows how the commission got on the wrong track from the start.
The report assumes that there is a single, readily identifiable enemy. This is the routine way of political thinking, as shaped during the Cold War.
Anyone with knowledge of the Arab countries and the Muslim world in general would know that this is not the case.
The problem with the current war on terror is precisely that the democracies, and those Muslims who aspire after democracy, are faced with a multi-faceted threat that assumes numerous forms, from the burning of books to the cutting of throats.
This is a war that has to be fought in numerous battlefields and against many enemies that, though united in their efforts to destroy the democratic societies, and first among them the United States, use a bewilderingly wide range of weapons and tactics.
The Bush administration has opened the military theatre of this war by liberating Afghanistan and Iraq and seeking to destroy the terrorists in there.
But this is a war that must also be fought in diplomatic, cultural, religious, and, above all, political battlefields. In all those theatres the US would need, and can find, allies, including among a majority of the Muslims who have been the first victims of Islamic fascism and its ideology of terror.
The commission has no suggestions to make about how to engage in those battlefields, who to choose as allies and who to identify as neutrals.
The commission makes an even bigger mistake. By speaking of "political grievances" it tries to explain the Islamists within the parameters of classical logic.
Having accused the administration of lack of imagination, the commission, is itself unable to imagine a conflict that is not political in the normal sense of the term.
The typical politician in a democracy, starting with ancient Athens, is a deal-maker. He practices the art of compromise, not confrontation. He is always ready to understand the other side, to accept part of the blame, and to propose give-and-take.
A more cynical version of this type of politics leads to triangulation, a la Bill Clinton. That kind of politics, however, does not work with the kind of enemy the US now faces. This enemy does not want to give and take, to compromise, or to triangulate. He wants you to obey him in every detail or he will kill you.
Once you assume some guilt on your own part, the whole thing could go something like this: well, you know, our wealth and power is bound to cause jealousy and humiliation among the poor and powerless; we also have a military presence in all but three of the Arab states; and don't we support Israel whose destruction is the dream of every Arab worth its salt?
The aims of the "enemy" in question, however, are not solely political.
He will not be happy even if, in the spirit of liberal generosity, you gave him half of your power and wealth. Nor would he settle for a total American withdrawal from the world. Nor again would he be satisfied if you helped him wipe Israel off the map.
This enemy's conflict with the United States, and alongside it other democracies, not to mention those Muslims who also aspire after democracy, is not political but existential.
He wants to rule you because he thinks he is the holder of a "the highest form of truth". Just as Hitler believed that the Aryan master-race had a natural right to rule the rest of mankind, regarded as sub-humanity, these guys believe that because they are Muslims they have a God-given right to seize control of all aspects of our lives.
Remember that Hitler, too, had grievances: starting with the Versailles Treaty and the Suddeten ethnic Germans.
Once you assume that those who kill Americans do so because of "political grievances", the next logical step is to establish a list of those grievances and find ways of addressing them.
This leads to a role reversal: rather than the Americans being the aggrieved party because they are killed, not to mention the daily burning of their flags- those who cut throats and burn American flags become the victims with "political grievances."
This enemy wants you, the whole world in fact, to convert to Islam because he believes the advent of Islam abrogated all other religions. Anyone who is not a Muslim is not a full human being.
"Our struggle is not about land or water," the late Ayatollah Ruhallah Khomeini said in 1980. "It is about bringing, by force if necessary, the whole of mankind onto the right path."
During the largest pan-Islamist conference ever was held in the Sudanese capital Khartoum in 1993. It ended with a vow to turn the 21st century into "the century of Islam's triumph throughout the globe."
But even if all Americans do convert to Islam that would not satisfy the "enemy" in question.
This enemy would want you to convert to his version of Islam. He wants to seize full control of every aspect of your life and dictate whatever move you make. Its chief theoretician, Abu-Ala Muadoodi, says that God subjected man's body to the iron laws of biology from which he cannot escape. The task of Islam, meaning Maudoodi's Islam, is to impose similar iron laws on man's soul.
This enemy regards the overwhelming majority of Muslims as "lapsed ones" or "hypocrites". This is the enemy that was measuring the beards of Muslims men in the streets of Kabul and punishing those whose facial hair was not up to standard. This is the same enemy that raids shopping malls in Tehran to beat up Muslim women who dare reveal a single strand of hair from under their hijab. This is the same enemy who issues a booklet under the title of "Allowed and Forbidden", in Qatar each year, dictating every imaginable move that anyone might make anywhere and at any given time.
Now, this enemy does not grow on trees. He is the product of a system of education, a culture and a polity. He is citizen of a state, has bases and safe havens not in space but in real countries, and uses all the facilities of the modern global system.
It is astonishing that the 9/11 Commission chose to fly over all that.
It discovered extensive contacts between the Al Qaeda and 24 governments in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Al Qaeda's contacts with Iraq and Iran, not to mention Syria through its domination of Lebanon, stretched over years and are mentioned in the report.
The Commission, however, did not think of asking any of those governments what they were doing talking to Al Qaeda. May be Al Qaeda leaders, including bin Laden, simply dropped in for a social call; and may be all the talk was only about the weather. But it would have been nice to know what the governments involved had to say for themselves.
Lee Hamilton, the Democrat co-chairman of the Commission, has gone out of his way to hammer in the point that they found no evidence of actual cooperation between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, although there was a well established pattern of relationship between them.
Hamilton means this as in indirect way of criticizing President George W Bush's decision to liberate Iraq.
The fact, however, is that if the Commission found no evidence that Saddam worked with Al Qaeda, it also found no evidence that he didn't. In a case like this the "presumption of innocence" cannot be used for obfuscation.
Keen to score a partisan point of his own, Tom Kean, the Commission's Republican Chairman, has come up with his own gem of a phrase to give credit to the Bush administration's efforts since 9/11.
"Although we are safer today, we are not safe," he says.
Well, how can you be safer if you are not safe in the first place?
What he means is that we are less unsafe now than we were on the eve of 9/11.
Both men ask why is it that the terrorists specially hate America?
Neither provides an answer.
The answer can be found in hundreds of books, articles and sermons that make the round in the Arab world.
The US is an "evil animal" because it can bite back when bitten. It is not Spain that would rush to change its governments after a few bomb kills 200 people on suburban trains. Nor is it The Philippines to change its foreign policy as soon as one of its citizens is seized as hostage in Iraq.
Nor yet can the US be compared to some of the European Union members who spend more intellectual and diplomatic energy fighting George W Bush than they do in combating Islamist fascism.
"The American Great Satan is the centre of global perfidy," says Ayatollah Emami Kashani, one of Iran's ruling mullahs. "Hit the centre and the edifice collapses."
According to bin Laden a single hour fighting America is better than 10,000 pilgrimages to Mecca.
There is no space here to review the 9/11 report in detail.
There are also too many grammatical, spelling, and factual errors to be catalogued in a newspaper article. But the chief failure of the commission was in its assumption that the mindset that suits the study of isolated, though dramatic, events, could also accommodate a probe into the undercurrents of history of which the 9/11 tragedy was but a manifestation.
All that one can say is that, although it took 19 moths to complete, the Commission's report is a bland document whose chief purpose is not to ruffle any feathers.
It says: "It is not our purpose to assess blame." Really? On the contrary, the commission was set up to assess blame and to expose those responsible.
Sadly, the 9/11 Commission has failed in its mission. The American people, indeed the whole world deserve a more serious approach to this life and death issue of our times.
Amir Taheri is an Iranian author of ten books on the Middle East and Islam. He's reachable through http://www.benadorassociates.com/.
Another public execution in Iran
SMCCDI (Information Service)
Jul 26, 2004
Another public execution has been made in the Iranian capital as reported by regime's official sources.
The name of this new victim of the Mullhacracy has been anounced as Kazem, aged 23, accused to have shot Mehdi Atiedan, a 22-year-old so-called university student, in October 2003 and stolen his car.
While the regime claims that the execution had lead to "popular joy", on Sunday, other confirmed reports are stating about sporadic clashes as many south residents of Tehran tried to save the victim from execution.
It's to note that the Islamic regime uses often false labels for qualifying its armed opponents and especially those who have retaliated against the brutality of the young Bassij force involved in Iranian universities and acting as student.
Other qualifications, such as, "Bandit", "Hooligan", "Spy", "Drug Trafficker" or "Rapist" are used as well and which help the regime's European and Japanese collaborators to justify the continuation of their business relations with a repressive regime.
Iranian Political Prisoners End 21-Day Hunger Strike
July 25, 2004
Radio Farda Newsroom
Political prisoners in the Evin prisons cellblock one Sunday ended their hunger strike after 21 days, at he urging of their families and human rights advocates inside and outside Iran, the strikers announced in a statement.
The judiciary officials denied the news of prisoners hunger strike, but postponed a planned visit to Tehran by a UH Human Rights Commissions delegation charged with investigating the allegations of arbitrary arrests and disappearances of dissidents.
In a statement announcing the end of their hunger strike, the prisoners denied a claim made by human rights groups in Iran who had said the strike was not political.
Today, we had a meeting with him along with my son, he appeared physically weak, but emotionally strong, Homa Zarafshan, wife of jailed lawyer Nasser Zarafshan tells Radio Fardas broadcaster Leyli Sadr. He gave us a statement that said they planned to break their hunger strike later this evening, she adds.
MKO Say US-Led Coalition Has Granted Them Protected Status in Iraq
July 25, 2004
PARIS -- Iran`s main armed opposition group said Sunday that the US-led coalition had granted its militants in Iraq protected status, despite its listing as a terrorist organization by both Washington and its key allies.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran said it had received notification from coalition commanders that People`s Mujahedeen fighters who have been confined to camp in Iraq since last year`s US-led invasion had been accorded recognition as protected non-combattants under the fourth Geneva Convention.
"It is a very significant step because the Iranian regime has been demanding for the past year the People`s Mujahedeen be handed back, which would obviously put their lives in danger," said Farid Sulimani, a member of the foreign affairs committee of the Mujahedeen-dominated National Council.
Iran has been pushing for repatriation of the several thousand Mujahedeen fighters under US military guard at Camp Ashraf northeast of Baghdad, and last December Iraq`s coalition-installed interim leadership voted unanimously to expel them.
But human rights watchdogs have called on the coalition not to hand over the fighters to an uncertain fate at the hands of their archfoes in Tehran.
The People`s Mujahedeen set up base in Iraq in 1986 and carried out regular cross-border raids into Iran, with which Iraq fought a bloody war between 1980 and 1988.
Several thousand Mujahedeen militiamen were disarmed by US forces following the fall of president Saddam Hussein`s regime in April 2003 and barred from undertaking military operations.
Their fate has been a prickly question for Washington as it prosecutes its worldwide war on terror, since the group is listed as a terrorist organization by both the US State Department and the European Union.
The National Council statement said that the coalition had undertaken to provide continued protection for the Mujahedeen fighters at Camp Ashraf.
While recognition as protected individuals removes controls on the fighters` movement, potentially allowing them to emigrate to third countries, Sulimani said all were likely to stay as they wanted to remain close to Iran.
Iraq's Defense Minister Warns of Iranian Infiltration [Excerpt]
July 25, 2004
The Washington Post
BAGHDAD -- Hazim Shalan, Iraq's defense minister, charged in an interview that Iran has taken over Iraqi border positions, sent spies and saboteurs into the country and infiltrated the new government -- including his own ministry. Iran remains "the first enemy of Iraq," he declared.
Shalan's comments were the clearest sign the new government is concerned that the country's open borders are being exploited by old enemies, turning Iraq into a battleground for Middle Eastern opponents of the United States.
"I've seen clear interference in Iraqi issues by Iran," Shalan said Saturday. "Iran interferes in order to kill democracy."
Shalan accused Iran of supporting "terrorism and bringing enemies into Iraq." Spreading out a hand-drawn map on his desk in the Defense Ministry, an ornate former government building secluded in the former Green Zone, Shalan pointed out what he said were numerous Iraqi border positions that Iran has taken over.
Shalan said that former fighters from Afghanistan have been caught in Iraq and that they have admitted receiving help from Iranian security forces. A Sudanese man with Iranian intelligence contacts was caught in April with a "very powerful poison," Shalan said, and planned to contaminate drinking water in Diwaniyah, 100 miles south of Baghdad. Two other people who were "working with Iranian intelligence" were seized in northeastern Iraq three weeks ago, he said.
Shalan bluntly warned Iran: "We can send the death to Tehran's streets, like they do to us. But we can't do it if we are a democracy. But if my people say do it now, I will do it."
Iraq and Iran fought a war from 1980 to 1988 in which about 1 million people were killed. The war touched the lives of vast numbers of Iraqis, and many still harbor deep suspicions about Iran. The government of interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, however, has talked about restoring ties with Tehran.
Officials at the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad, a palm tree-lined compound of brown stone buildings, declined to comment on Shalan's remarks.
Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Labeed Abbawi, using softer language, said, "We do have troubles with neighboring countries in general."
"They see an American army on their doorstep. This raises a lot of apprehension with them," Abbawi said. The authoritarian governments are worried that a democratic and pluralistic Iraq could foment unrest in their own countries, he said, and some of those countries want to continue the attacks against the United States to keep the Americans on the defensive.
"With our borders wide open, so many of these organizations and people who have their own ends see Iraq as a good stage for this battle," Abbawi said in an interview Sunday. "They are coming from Iran, from Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. We don't accuse the governments, but we think they are not doing enough at the borders to prevent infiltration."
Pettigrew Puts Iran On Notice
July 26, 2004
Globe and Mail
Tu Thanh Ha
Montreal -- Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew demanded yesterday that Iran renew its investigation into the death of Montreal photographer Zahra Kazemi, after the acquittal in Tehran of the intelligence agent accused of fatally beating her.
After a day of high-level consultations with department officials, Mr. Pettigrew warned that Canada, which has already recalled its ambassador in the dispute, is looking at further actions.
"We're looking at different options. I'm not ready to say at this point whether one is ruled out or not," said an official close to the minister.
"The Government of Canada continues to insist that justice be done," Mr. Pettigrew said in a statement. "The process has to be both transparent and credible. I call on Iran to fulfill its responsibilities to bring out the truth in this case."
The communiqué's vague wording enraged Ms. Kazemi's son, Stephan Hachemi, who is eager for tougher, more concrete steps.
"It's scandalous. I'm fed up pushing after the Canadian government," he said in an interview. "This is ridiculous. It's revolting."
"A Canadian citizen underwent 72 hours of interrogations, was tortured to death, and over a year later the Canadian government is still reviewing its options after being humiliated, lied to, toyed around [with], and after that Iran closed the case and insulted me and my family by offering blood money," Mr. Hachemi added in a e-mail statement. "They don't get it."
Saturday's acquittal came after a hasty trial that only took two days of hearings last week.
After the verdict, the court ruled that since no one had been found guilty, the state should pay Ms. Kazemi's relatives a financial compensation, variously estimated at between $12,000 to $18,000.
The family turned down the money. Vowing to fight the case "until my last breath," the lawyer for the Kazemi family, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, said she is planning an appeal.
"The Canadian government is reviewing its options, but the general view is one way or another, Iran should be sanctioned," a senior Canadian Foreign Affairs Ministry official told Agence France-Presse.
The source, who asked not to be named, said a possible step could include a permanent downgrading of relations with Iran.
Ms. Kazemi died a little more than a year ago, on July 10, 2003. An Iranian-born photographer who also had Canadian citizenship, she was beaten to death after being arrested for taking photos of protesters outside a Tehran prison.
Exiled Iranians and supporters of Ms. Kazemi have always believed that intelligence agent Mohammed Reza Aghdam Ahmadi, the sole person charged in her death, was just a scapegoat in a power struggle between various factions in Iran.
They say the real culprit is another man who interrogated Ms. Kazemi, Tehran's chief prosecutor, the hard-line conservative Saeed Mortazavi.
Ali Reza Nourizadeh, an exiled Iranian journalist and dissident, is pessimistic about the prospect that his country's judiciary would ever convict Ms. Kazemi's killers. "Their whole aim is to close down the file. Even if this goes to a higher court, nothing new will happen."
Bahman Kalbasi, a York University student who once spent four months in an Iranian jail as a member of the student reform movement, said the acquittal will open the Canadian government's eyes about the situation in Iran.
"At least now they know, and the world will know that the right-wing part of the regime, the fundamentalist clerics, are not going to give in to any sort of compromise, and are not going to back off on their extensive violation of human rights."
Imposing economic sanctions is the only way to exact some leverage against the hard-liners in Tehran, Mr. Nourizadeh said. "They know they are going to pay a dear price if the Canadians are serious in pursuing the matter further."
The court reached the same conclusion that the government had contended since the beginning, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said yesterday at his weekly press briefing.
The lingering dispute is the first challenge for Mr. Pettigrew, the new minister who had badly wanted the Foreign Affairs portfolio for years.
In Iran, the government quickly jumped on the verdict to bolster its claims that there wasn't enough evidence to prove that the intelligence agent had killed Ms. Kazemi.
Late last week, Iran postponed a United Nations human-rights team's visit. A spokesman for the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said Iran indicated that the visit, planned for this week, could be pushed back to as late as October.
There was no comment from the Iranian mission in Geneva, but diplomatic sources said the Tehran judiciary had not been able to co-ordinate its officials for the meetings.
Iran Becomes High-Frequency Word in Latest US Foreign Policy
July 25, 2004
Xinhua News Agency
Iranians do not give up that quest "they will be dealt with, starting through the United Nations."
Comparing with Bush's tough words, it seems that US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was trying to draw a line between ex-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and the current Iranian leaders.
Last Friday, Rice said in a TV interview that the situation in Iran is different from that of Iraq when the latter under Saddam'srule defied the international community by invading neighboring Kuwait in 1990, using weapons of mass destruction in the Iran-Iraqwar, and refusing in 1998 to allow UN inspectors in.
Rice claimed that Iran's problem lies in its "ties to terrorism." She also accused Iran of failing to live up to its internationalobligations on its nuclear program. But when asked if Iran would be a more suitable target for US military action, Rice said, "I don't think that the decision to go to war in Iraq necessarily means that you have to make a similar decision in Iran."
Iran has categorically denied US accusations, noting that the Bush administration tying Iran to al Quaeda was part of a US cover-up to draw attention away from its failings in Iraq.
Increasingly alarmed over Iran's failure to come clean about its arms programs, the US Congress is becoming tougher. Since House Resolution 398 was passed on May 6, a similar Senate resolution calling for punitive actions, mainly through broad new UN sanctions, is expected to be put to a vote, congressional sources say.
It was reported that a few people in the congress also plan to introduce an Iran Liberation act this fall, modeled on the Iraq Liberation Act that mandated government change in Baghdad. The goals would be the same for Iran including a regime change, congressional officials said.
By contrast, some top foreign policy officials, including former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brezinski and former Director of Central Intelligence Agency Robert M. Gates, are calling for diverse efforts at diplomatic rapprochement.
A press release issued by the Council on Foreign Relations lastweek calls for "systematic and pragmatic engagement" with Iran, saying that "the lack of sustained engagement with Iran harms American interests, and direct dialogue with Tehran on specific areas of mutual concern should be pursued."
Citing the opinions of the two sides, leading American newspaper The Washington Post pointed out that the United States is at the crossroads on issues of Iran. The newspaper quoted both US congressional officials and foreign policy analysts as predicting that the Bush administration is unlikely to give a formal shape to the Iran policy, except to press for Tehran's fullcooperation with the United Nations on its nuclear program.
9/11 Probe Misses Saudi-Iranian-Syrian Rescue Operation for Saudi Terrorists
July 21, 2004
DEBKAfile Special Report
Anxious to blunt the general impression that their findings are tainted by the US presidential election campaign, the Sept. 11 commission whose report comes out Thursday, July 23, finds this horror was preventable - but assigns no blame, whether to the Clinton or the Bush administrations.
Furthermore, the recommendation to appoint a cabinet-level chief for all 15 intelligence agencies is unlikely to be carried out before the November election. Even when it is, calling up an idyll of cooperation between the CIA and the FBI would stretch the imagination.
In 1996, after participating in the inquiry into the Aldrich Ames affair, the late Senator Patrick Moynihan declared the entire CIA should be torn down and rebuilt. That was not feasible either.
But shortly afterwards, in April 1997, the CIA and the FBI both found out that Osama bin Laden was preparing to attack New Yorks World Trade Center and did nothing.
However it will be much harder to ignore Sandy Berger, Clintons national security adviser, being caught filching terror papers from the National Archives, in advance of his testimony to the panel. n particular, questions are bound to be asked about three missing documents, one an after-action report criticizing the Clinton administrations handling of al Qaeda millennium threats and identifying American vulnerabilities at airports and sea ports in the year.
This paper was penned one year before the September 11 attack.
The 9/11 commission has gained considerable attention by discovering that Iran had given free passage to five al Qaeda terrorists who took part in that attack. The Iranians shrugged off the accusation with the comment that the long Iranian-Afghan border is easily breached undetected by anyone who wants to sneak across.
Neither Tehran nor the Senate members are revealing the real story of Iran-al Qaeda relations, or its contemporary sequels. Neither do they name the third and fourth parties to the relationship. That story began eight years ago with the June 25, 1996 al Qaeda truck bomb that blew the façade off the Khobar Towers in the eastern Saudi town of Dhahran, where US crews who flew the warplanes protecting Saudi oil fields were quartered. The attack claimed 19 American lives and left 500 maimed, some gravely.
Already then, Iran not only allowed al Qaeda terrorists to pass through its territory but provided the intelligence and logistical support for the attack. According to DEBKAfiles counter-terror sources, the Saudis extracted this information from Saudi al Qaeda assailants who fled to Damascus after the bombing. Syria later extradited them with the provisos that Riyadh not turn them over to the United States or permit American investigators to interrogate them. Riyadh kept faith with Damascus. However the Iranians, upon learning that the captured Saudi terrorists had revealed their role in the Khobar Towers attack, rushed former Iranian president Hashem Rafsanjani over to Riyadh for damage control. The upshot was a secret Saudi-Iranian deal whereby Riyadh kept mum to Washington on Irans complicity in the assault on US troops in return for Tehran barring Iranian soil as a base for al Qaeda or any other terrorist attacks on the oil kingdom.
Saudi rulers were therefore bound to silence by under-the-table deals with both Syria and Iran. Muzzling the Saudi al Qaeda members involved in the Khobar attack kept the heat away from both these terrorist sponsoring governments in the critical years of the latter half of the 1990s and up to 2000. During this period, Saudi nationals were drawn deep into bin Ladens machine of terror. The free passage of Saudi terrorists from their home towns to Afghanistan and back via Iran was routine in those years and an open secret to every intelligence and counter-terror agent in the Middle East and Persian Gulf.
In October 2001, after the Sept 11 attacks provoked the invasion of Afghanistan, Iran extended a helping hand once again when Saudi intelligence asked for permission to use Iranian airspace for a secret emergency airlift to evacuate most of bin Ladens Saudi combatants from the besieged northern Afghan town of Konduz.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly broke the news of that airlift at the time, together with word of Irans offer of safe passage to Saudi fighters fleeing other battle arenas like Kandahar and Tora Bora.
By helping Saudi fugitives reach safety, Tehran turned the tables on Riyadh. Whereas before this episode, Iran was at Saudi mercy over its involvement in the Khobar bombing, now the Saudis depended on Iranian silence to conceal their nationals massive participation in the Afghan war and correlatively the 9/11 attacks.
From that time on, the ayatollahs considered themselves released from their earlier bargain with the princes. On May 12, 2003, al Qaeda terrorists based in Iran were allowed to strike three Riyadh compounds occupied by Westerners. This decision was strengthened by intelligence reaching Tehran, as well as US and Middle East spy agencies, that senior princes of the Sudairi branch of the royal house, including interior minister Prince Nayef who was charged with combating terror and King Fahds son Abdelaziz, were in secret dialogue with al Qaeda leaders.
All the intelligence data revealed here was known to the Clinton and Bush administrations and brought before both presidents.
Even now, the Saudi-Iranian-Syrian al Qaeda deal works when it suits the parties.
Tehran enabled senior bin Laden association sheikh Muhammed Khaled al-Harby, known also as Suleiman al-Makki, to turn himself into Saudi authorities under the month-long royal amnesty Crown Prince Abdullah offered al Qaeda terrorists on June 23, 2004 He is said to have contacted the Saudi embassy in Tehran from his hideout on the Iran-Afghan border and flown to Riyadh. A widely-broadcast videotape found in Afghanistan showed bin Laden showing al Harby, who is married to the daughter of bin Ladens No. 2 Ayman Zuwahiri, how the New York Trade Center bombing was carried out soon after the event.
US authorities hope for Saudi cooperation in questioning the sheikh, who could shed much light on the US Sept. 11 inquiry. They may be disappointed. DEBKAfiles counter-terror sources report that just before the US invasion of Afghanistan, al-Habry and family went through Iran to Syria. His family still lives there. The Saudis are clamming up on the exact circumstances of his surrender. The common intelligence assumption is that for the last three years he lived at a secret location in Syria. But the Assad regime found it more convenient for him to turn himself in from Iran in line with the still functioning arrangements between the four parties.
This semi-hidden transaction and other signs seem to indicate that Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria, each for its own interests, have decided to join forces to repatriate all Saudi al Qaeda veterans who were complicit in orchestrating the 9/11 attacks and no longer active.
Al Kharby, who lost both feet on the battlefields of Afghanistan, is one. Another is Ibrahim al-Sadiq al-Kaidi who last Saturday, July 17, returned to home to Saudi Arabia after presenting himself at the Saudi mission in Damascus and accepting the royal amnesty. Riyadh is unlikely to allow US investigators to question him too under the terms of its accord with Syria.
The committees conclusion that America had more reason to go to war against Iran than Iraq is based on a fallacious, possibly political, comparison. Al Qaedas presence in Saddam Husseins Iraq from 1996 was quite separate from the Tehran-Riyadh-Damascus-al Qaeda arrangements. It has everything to do with the general terror offensive bin Laden has since launched against the Saudi kingdom and his organizations war against the US presence in Iraq. The thousands of Saudi terrorists who wended their way to and from Afghanistan through Iran are now fighting American troops in Iraq.
Mixed Press For Kazemi Verdict
July 26, 2004
Saturday's acquittal in Iran of the intelligence officer accused of killing the Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi sparks outrage and anger in Canadian papers.
The Iranian press is more cautious in its reporting of the trial, although one hard-line daily says Western media outlets are mounting propaganda attacks against Iran.
The Calgary Sun calls the trial a "mockery of justice".
"It strains credibility to believe the authorities in Iran were actually prepared to find the killers of Zahra Kazemi and bring them to justice."
The paper believes the acquittal of the "Iranian counter-espionage agent Mohammad Reza Aghdam Ahmadi... shouldn't be surprising".
"After all, Ahmadi is one of the Iranian government's own men. It's more surprising anyone was indicted in the first place."
The paper is particularly angry that Ms Kazemi's family was offered around $12,000 in "blood money" by the Iranian government as compensation for her death.
"Coincidentally, had the victim been a male, that amount would have been double, about $24,800," the paper says bitterly.
"What a mockery this has been... It shows again that the Canadian government's stance of 'soft power' - speaking quietly in international affairs and trying not to upset anyone - doesn't work."
Toronto's Globe and Mail agrees, saying the trial is surrounded by the "stench of a cover-up".
"The time for patience is now over," it argues.
"Canada must show its outrage over Iran's shabby and dishonourable response to the murder... Unless the regime announces immediately that it is taking concrete, credible new measures to bring the killer or killers to justice, Canada should downgrade its permanent relations with the Islamic republic."
"The next step would be to curtail trade relations... Tehran must be made to feel the heat over its shameful record on domestic human rights."
In Iran, the reporting of the trial verdict differs according to the domestic political stance of each paper.
Reformist papers seem to be more critical, with Farhang-e Ashti believing the hearing "exposed many realities" despite the attempt "to stage a show trial".
"The banning of newspapers... and the creation of a climate of fear to prevent the publication of news, proved to be in vain," the paper says.
"Foreign media, especially in Canada, covered news of the trial. They quoted Shirin Ebadi as saying that it was a show trial from the start."
The reformist Etemaad also highlights critical comments by Shirin Ebadi.
"Shirin Ebadi... rejected the competence of the court investigating the case of the murder of Zahra Kazemi," it reports.
The paper quotes Ms Ebadi: "I swear I will not rest until I find the murderer of Zahra Kazemi."
The conservative Khorasan is more circumspect, preferring to quote Canadian papers on protests in Ottawa against the verdict.
The paper also gives prominence to "Iranian officials" who feel that "Canada's interference in this case is tantamount to interference in Iran's internal affairs."
The hard-line Jomhuri-ye Eslami offers a more robust view, accusing the Western media of mounting something akin to a propaganda war against Iran.
"Following the acquittal... foreign radios and Western news agencies have intensified their attacks against Iran's system and our country's judiciary," it says.
The paper's anger is apparent: "These radios... allege that by not allowing foreign diplomats to attend the trial, justice failed to be carried out and that the defence lawyers should be given the opportunity to renew their investigations!"
BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.
DoctorZin Note: I received this from Banafsheh.
Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily
Volume XXII, No. 119 Monday, July 26, 2004
Founded in 1972. Produced at least 200 times a year
© 2004, Global Information System, ISSA
Iranian Journalists Launch Protest in Tehran
July 26, 2004
Voice of America
Scores of Iranian journalists began a protest Monday in Tehran against the government closure of two more reformist publications.
Iran's hard-line judiciary closed two liberal daily newspapers earlier this month, after alleging that they insulted officials, spread lies and endangered national security.
The cleric-controlled judiciary has closed about 100 reformist publications and jailed dozens of journalists in the past four years.
Reformists and human rights activists have denounced the closures and arrests, calling them an attempt by Iran's ruling conservatives to stifle dissent in the Islamic Republic.
Some information for this report provided by Reuters.
Israel Will Be 'wiped Off Earth' If It Attacks Iran
July 26, 2004
TEHRAN -- Iran will wipe Israel "off the face of the earth" if it dared to attack the Islamic republic's nuclear facilities, a spokesman for Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards was quoted as saying Monday.
"The United States is showing off by threatening to use its wild dog, Israel," the public relations head of the Revolutionary Guards, Commander Seyed Masood Jazayeri, was quoted as saying by the Iranian student news agency ISNA.
"They will not hesitate to strike Iran if they are capable of it. However, their threats to attack Irans nuclear facilities cannot be realised. They are aware Tehrans reaction will be so harsh that Israel will be wiped off the face of the earth and US interests will be easily damaged," he warned.
The commander asserted that Iran would not initiate a conflict, but in retaliation to any attack has proved itself to be "harsh, assertive, hard-hitting and destructive."
Iran's controversial bid to generate nuclear power is seen by arch-enemies Israel and the United States as a cover for nuclear weapons development, allegations that Iran denies.
Long after the mullahs are gone, and the word jihad a forgotten memory, there will still be an Israel.