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Iranian Alert - December 7, 2004 [EST] -- Report: Iran Has Tried Arrested Al Qaeda Members
Regime Change Iran ^ | 12.7.2004 | DoctorZin

Posted on 12/06/2004 9:21:55 PM PST by DoctorZIn

Top News Story

Report: Iran Has Tried Arrested Al Qaeda Members

Mon Dec 6, 2004 05:45 PM ET

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's judiciary has tried a number of arrested al Qaeda members and verdicts have been issued, a senior judiciary official was quoted as saying on Monday.

Tehran Justice Department head Abbasali Alizadeh told the semi-official Fars news agency Iran's "high-ranking officials are satisfied with the issued verdicts," but did not elaborate on what the verdicts had been.

News of the trials is likely to anger Washington which has repeatedly called on Iran to hand over all al Qaeda suspects it is holding. Guilty verdicts sentencing them to long jail terms would make that an even more distant prospect.

"If Iran does indeed have senior al Qaeda operatives, then we believe they should be handed over either to the United States or to a third country where they can be dealt with in a less opaque manner," State Department spokesman Adam Ereli told reporters in Washington.

Ereli said he had no confirmation al Qaeda members had been tried in Iran.

Western intelligence and Saudi sources believe Iran may have captured al Qaeda's security chief and a son of the group's leader Osama bin Laden.

Reuters could not immediately reach Iranian judiciary or government officials for comment.

Iran has extradited scores of suspected al Qaeda militants who fled Afghanistan and Pakistan in the last three years. But it has rebuffed U.S. calls to hand them all over and last year announced plans to put around a dozen on trial.

Hossein Mousavian, secretary of the foreign policy committee of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said in June that the suspects were middle-ranking al Qaeda members.

He said they had been: "plotting against the national security of Iran and they have planned for terrorist activities inside Iran."

The United States has long believed Iran was harboring al Qaeda militants who escaped Afghanistan after U.S. troops invaded in late 2001 after the September 11 attacks.

It has said Iran-based al Qaeda militants plotted suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia and that Tehran gave safe passage to several of the 19 hijackers who carried out the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

Iran acknowledges that al Qaeda members have managed to cross into Iran over its long and difficult-to-police borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But it denies providing safe-haven to al Qaeda members and says it deeply opposes the group's methods and philosophy.

The most important figure that Western intelligence agencies say may be there is Saif al-Adel, an Egyptian. He is widely believed to have taken charge of al Qaeda operations after Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the September 11 attacks, was captured in Pakistan.

Saudi sources said last year that Iran had also detained Saad bin Laden, a son of Osama, as well as al Qaeda spokesman Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who is a Kuwaiti.

Iran has refused to name the al Qaeda members it is holding.

Alizadeh said the trials had been conducted by a "special judge" after taking into account information presented by security and intelligence officials. (Additional reporting by Saul Hudson in Washington)

TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS: armyofmahdi; axisofevil; axisofweasels; ayatollah; binladen; cleric; eu; germany; humanrights; iaea; insurgency; iran; iranianalert; iraq; islamicrepublic; japan; journalist; kazemi; khamenei; khatami; khatemi; lsadr; moqtadaalsadr; mullahs; napalminthemorning; neoeunazis; persecution; persia; persian; politicalprisoners; protests; rafsanjani; religionofpeace; revolutionaryguard; rumsfeld; russia; satellitetelephones; shiite; southasia; southwestasia; studentmovement; studentprotest; terrorism; terrorists; us; vevak; wot
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"If you want on or off this Iran ping list, Freepmail DoctorZin

1 posted on 12/06/2004 9:21:57 PM PST by DoctorZIn
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

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

2 posted on 12/06/2004 9:25:09 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn


Posted Monday, December 6, 2004

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TEHRAN, 6 Dec. (IPS) Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, in a major speech that could well be the last before the end of his presidency next May, bitterly criticized the hard liners as well as some of the reformists for the sad situation the Islamic Republic both at home and in the world.

Talking to a rare gathering of students on the occasion of the national “Day of Students”, he forcefully defended the action of his tenure of his presidency during the last eight years, he said on Monday that the extremists on both sides of the establishment brought the Islamic Republic from a zenith of respect and prestige in both the world and among the Muslim nations to an abyss where the United States placed it among evil state.

This was Khatami’s first visit to the University on this occasion in the past tow years, amidst protest by some students associations, including some in the line of reforms.

The Government could arrest opponent, but this is not our policy.

“In the one hand, you have the president of the regime who calmly listens to criticism, even when some of them utterly unjustified and on the other, there are third rank organs at forces and the Judiciary that for the slightest criticism sends people to prisons”, he observed amidst applauses and shouts of students from all ideological and political walks.

To students accusing him of constant retreat in the face of the ruling conservatives and weakness, he said the Government is not weak, but wish to place the country in a confrontation position.

“The Government could arrest opponent, but this is not our policy”, he observed, adding that it is the others which owe him, not the reverse.

“Thanks to the Almighty, my term is reaching its end. But I think that those who opposed the people and the reforms they called for owe me. The same is true with some reformists who, by turning every thing into politics, also damaged the nation”, the embattled President further noted, according to reports from both the official news agency IRNA and the students news agency ISNA.

In order to highlight his plight, he said during the last legislative elections that he described as “not satisfactory”, the Council of the Guardians ignored directives from the leader who had ordered fair and just elections.

Mr. Khatami was referring to the Guardian’s massive rejection of reformist candidates in favour of conservative runners and affiliated, mostly former officers of the Revolutionary Guards.

“I did my best to convince the Guardian Council to revise its stand. We held a meeting with members of the Council of the Guardians in presence of the Supreme Leader who urged them to shift their attitude. They accepted it in the meeting, but, they reneged on their promise later", Mr. Khatami explained.

Defending vigorously the theocratic system of the Islamic Republic, he said, "In the Islam in which I believe in, the vote of the people is not a formality, and all the systems of the government should rely on public vote", the President said, adding that the only way to save the country is democracy.

Innovation in religion urgently needs to reconcile religion and democracy, he said, adding, "There is no need to change the divine religion but our judgment and insight should undergo changes and be reformed to match the present world”, he said, taking the situation of women in Muslim societies as an example of the changes to be introduced in the religion.

"A successful religious government will not be stable unless it undergoes changes", he pointed out, as students were accusing him of having done nothing during his eight years of presidency by blaming the opponents for having prevented him to implement the reforms he had promised during presidential campaigns.

In questions raised by the students, Khatami said, "I have not deviated from my stances even an iota and proceed with my stances with pleasure”.

"It is up to me to defend democracy and freedom within the Islamic Republic and liberation from foreign domination", he pointed out, adding: "We have to institutionalize freedom to attain all-out development".

However, he visibly angered the audience when he strongly defended the action of the Information (Intelligence) Ministry and with a strange “if’ questioned the existence pf parallel security services.

The Council of the Guardians ignored directives from the leader who had ordered fair and just elections.

“Probably, our intelligence system is one of the best, more tolerant, efficient and hard working in the world, dedicated not to the security of the officials but that of the nation and the people”, Mr. Khatami insisted, adding that “if there are parallel organs, it is a problem that must be addressed.

“How can he be so vicious, or pretending to be ignorant, when every one in this country knows that there are several security systems running private jails, arresting and torturing dissidents”, one students said in the side lines of the meeting.

He was referring to security organs operated by the Judiciary, the Office of the Leader, the Revolutionary Guards and the police, all outside the control of the government.

“Look at the journalists who, against their freedom, published letters of repentance and confessed to their guilt, presenting excuses to the leader and the people for having betrayed and insulted them, for being mislead by enemies of the system, by foreigners etc. Letters that are ready made bearing the seal of the authorities”, he added, referring to the five journalists freed last week.
Elsewhere, the President defended the action of the Iranian diplomats during the last meeting of the international nuclear watchdog in Vienna, where thanks to the cooperation of Britain, France and Germany, the Board of Directors of the IAEA passed a mild resolution that saved Tehran from economic sanctions demanded by the United States.

“They saved the nation from a major danger and without proper strategy and wisdom, we could face enormous difficulties”, he said of the work of the Iranian delegation while reading a slogan saying: “I might be deft, blind and mute, but I’m certainly not idiot”. ENDS KHATAMI STUDENTS

3 posted on 12/06/2004 9:25:35 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

12/5/04 -


The following is an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government:

Iran is now a country whose rulers say yes to suicide bombers and no to freedom of expression. The Iranian people deserve better.

Officials in Tehran recently banned any public ceremony commemorating the anniversary of the deaths of Dariush and Parvaneh Forouhar. These Iranian democracy activists were brutally killed six years ago, in a wave of murders of dissident intellectuals and journalists. According to the international press freedom group Reporters Without Borders, "none of the instigators of the 1998 murders has ever been questioned or detained."

The ban on publicly commemorating the 1998 murders of Iranian dissidents comes as Iran's extremist Muslim clerical rulers are cracking down hard again on debate and dissent. Journalists and student activists are being arrested, and dissident web sites and opposition newspapers are being closed down.

State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli says the U.S. supports basic democratic rights for all Iranians:

"That includes freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and freedom for participation in the political process. When there are cases of shutting down newspapers, or prosecuting journalists or prosecuting other activists, we speak out against that. . . . People hold their governments accountable and we think that's the basis of democracy, and should be encouraged and respected, wherever it takes place, in Iran as in the United States."

Meanwhile, the Iranian government has allowed a monument to be erected in Tehran in honor of the suicide bombers who killed two-hundred forty-one U.S. Marines on a peacekeeping mission in Lebanon in 1983. The group sponsoring the monument is the same one that announced a recruiting campaign for suicide bombers in Iraq.

4 posted on 12/06/2004 9:28:46 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

Iran: Torture Used to Obtain ‘Confessions’

Judiciary’s Secret Squads Whitewash Repression, Incriminate Political Detainees

(New York, December 7, 2004) Secret squads operating under the authority of the Iranian judiciary have used torture to force detained Internet journalists and civil society activists to write self-incriminatory “confession letters,” Human Rights Watch said today.

" The Iranian government shouldn’t think for a minute that anyone will believe in the authenticity of these letters. They’re fooling no one. With stunts like these, Tehran is rapidly losing its already meager credibility on human rights. "
Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch
Evidence obtained by Human Rights Watch confirms that secret squads of interrogators—primarily former intelligence officers purged in the late-1990s by President Mohammed Khatami but now employed by the judiciary—forced the detainees to write these “confession letters” under extreme pressure as a condition for their release on bail. In an attempt to cover up the government’s illegal detention and torture of detainees, interrogators have coerced them to write self-incriminatory letters that describe detention conditions as satisfactory and confess that civil society organizations are part of an “evil project” directed by “foreigners and counter-revolutionaries.”  
“The Iranian government shouldn’t think for a minute that anyone will believe in the authenticity of these letters. They’re fooling no one,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “With stunts like these, Tehran is rapidly losing its already meager credibility on human rights.”  
Human Rights Watch has documented an extensive pattern of forced confessions by political detainees who have later retracted their statements, which they have attributed to their interrogators. The Iranian government continues to pursue a project to strangle critics and activists, one that Human Rights Watch documented in the report, “Like the Dead in Their Coffins.”  
In its latest phase, the government has resorted to forced “confessions” to pave the way for the prosecution of reformist politicians and leaders of civil society organizations. By obtaining self-incriminating confessions, the government is attempting to destroy individuals’ reputations, sow discord among activists and ultimately shut down all independent voices and organizations.  
Most recently, Human Rights Watch verified independently the contents of a document published anonymously last week by an official working for the Iranian judiciary. In his letter, the official describes the location of secret detention centers and the torture and mistreatment of detainees, including lengthy solitary confinement. The official published this letter in response to the Iranian government’s denial of secret detention centers and the mistreatment of detainees.  
Human Rights Watch called on the Iranian government to dismantle and prosecute secret squads operating within the judiciary, end arbitrary detentions, release all political prisoners, and comply with its human rights obligations under international treaties.  
“The judiciary is more worried about protecting its secret squads from later prosecution than ensuring the rights of those detained”, said Whitson.  

5 posted on 12/06/2004 9:31:23 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Defending vigorously the theocratic system of the Islamic Republic, he said, "In the Islam in which I believe in, the vote of the people is not a formality, and all the systems of the government should rely on public vote", the President said, adding that the only way to save the country is democracy.

Getting very interesting!

6 posted on 12/06/2004 9:46:50 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (A Proud member of Free Republic ~~The New Face of the Fourth Estate since 1996.)
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To: DoctorZIn
"Tehran Justice Department head Abbasali Alizadeh told the semi-official Fars news agency Iran's 'high-ranking officials are satisfied with the issued verdicts,' but did not elaborate on what the verdicts had been."

"Not guilty," I'm sure.
7 posted on 12/06/2004 11:33:30 PM PST by Terpfen (Gore/Sharpton '08: it's Al-right!)
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To: Terpfen

The same report spoke of these Al Qaeda members being "captured." Sure...

8 posted on 12/06/2004 11:45:22 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

IAEA officially invites Iran to join the nuclear fuel cycle club

TEHRAN (MNA) -- The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog, has officially asked Iran to join the Expert Group on Multilateral Approaches to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle, the chief of the Iranian nuclear delegation to Vienna, Sirus Naseri, said in a report on Monday.

The invitation has been submitted to the office of Iran’s representative to the IAEA, he added.

Naseri said Iran would soon introduce its official representative for membership in the group.

Under the Paris Pact signed between Iran and the European Union big three states of Germany, Britain, and France, the EU had agreed to support Iran’s efforts to join the IAEA nuclear fuel cycle group.

9 posted on 12/07/2004 12:20:32 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

Persian Journal

Iran Mullahs to Confiscate Sites & Blogs, Replace Content

Dec 6, 2004, 20:53

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Iran's mullah-run ministry of culture and Islamic guidance has decided to launch new efforts to detect the directors of the Internet sites (and weblogs), active in Iran and replace it with own Islamic pro-mullah propaganda content.

Some of the participants believed that by issuing a permit for the establishment of internet sites, the government only makes it more complicated to supervise their activities and thus proposed that the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance and the Supreme National Security Council avoid officially recognizing any internet sites in Iran.

In a meeting the representatives of cultural, security and executive branches of the government discussed the issue of internet activities in connection to which a number of web writers and journalists have been recently arrested, their sites confiscated and in most cases, content have been changed to pro-mullah regime.

Iran Daily ( is one of mentioned sites, now operates under supervision of mullahs' news broadcasting agency known as IRNA (Islamic Republic News Agency).

10 posted on 12/07/2004 12:24:27 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

Thank you for the infomation and thread

11 posted on 12/07/2004 3:09:36 AM PST by Mo1 (Should be called Oil for Fraud and not Oil for Food)
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To: DoctorZIn

Thanks for the info.

12 posted on 12/07/2004 4:54:29 AM PST by tkathy (There will be no world peace until all thuggocracies are gone from the earth.)
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To: DoctorZIn

Dec. 6 has been student day since 1954 I think

13 posted on 12/07/2004 8:00:36 AM PST by nuconvert (Everyone has a photographic memory. Some don't have film.)
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To: DoctorZIn

14 posted on 12/07/2004 8:55:53 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
DoctorZin Note: Syria and Iran are having troubles in Lebanon. Growing signs of public dissatisfaction. Is a trend developing in the Middle East?

The Mullahs' Playground

[Excerpt] December 07, 2004
The Wall Street Journal
Amir Taheri

As the new Bush administration prepares to move on its democratization agenda in the Middle East, the first battleground may well be Lebanon. The smallest of Arab countries in size, Lebanon has made gigantic contributions to Arab politics, literature and culture. It is also the only Arab nation to have maintained a parliamentary tradition for more than half a century. With a long-established middle class and an intellectual elite representing a rich spectrum of traditions and sensibilities, Lebanon could, given a chance, become one of the first Arab states to join the global democratic mainstream.

Right now, however, Lebanon is facing extinction as a sovereign state, let alone a putative democracy. The government of Omar Karami is trying to impose a new electoral law designed to prevent the emergence of a democratic majority that might defy the Syrian hegemony.

The final vestiges of sovereignty were stripped from Lebanon in October. Syria's President Bashar al-Assad summoned Lebanon's then-Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri to Damascus for a 12-minute audience in which he demanded that Lebanon's constitution be amended to allow incumbent President Emil Lahoud's term to be extended by three years. The two Lebanese politicians had no opportunity to argue against Assad's "suggestion," and Syria's orders were fulfilled within 24 hours. All that Mr. Hariri could do was resign, allowing Assad to appoint Omar Karami, one of Syria's longest-serving "special friends," as prime minister.

Defying Syria is not easy for any Lebanese politician. The Syrians have some 40,000 troops and secret agents in Lebanon. Their agents are present in key slots within the Lebanese administration, including the cabinet. Syria also has a long history of having its Lebanese critics assassinated. Among Syria's Lebanese victims over the past quarter-century are 37 leading politicians, academics and journalists, including two presidents, Bechir Gemayel and Rene Mouaouad, and the Druze leader Kamal Jumblatt.

Syria's military occupation of Lebanon is backed by Iran through the 15,000-strong army of Hezbollah, a militia recruited, trained, financed and armed by Tehran. While Syria regards Iran as its strategic hinterland, the mullahs see Syria and Lebanon as a glacis for their Khomeinist state.

A 400-man team of Iranian Revolutionary Guardsmen help pull the militia's strings in Beirut and southern Lebanon. Tehran has already armed the Hezbollah with some 8,000 Al Fajr missiles and plans to give it an air force and a navy as well. Iran also supplies Syria with cut-price oil and an annual cash handout of $500 million, which helps finance the occupation of Lebanon.

Almost two decades of Syrian occupation have turned Lebanon, with a foreign debt approaching $40 billion, into the world's most indebted nation relative to its population. It has forced almost one million Lebanese, more than a quarter of the population, into exile. For the first time in memory, an army of beggars and street urchins roams the center of Beirut and other big cities.

Before George W. Bush became president, successive U.S. administrations had endorsed the Syrian occupation of Lebanon -- often in the hope of encouraging the despot of Damascus to join the so-called Middle East peace process. President Bill Clinton paid the late despot Hafez al-Assad the supreme tribute of visiting Damascus and praising Syria's "constructive role in the region" which, presumably, included the effective annexation of Lebanon.

The first sign that Mr. Bush intended to change Washington's policy vis-à-vis Damascus came in 2001 when the newly inaugurated president refused a Syrian invitation for a summit with the younger Assad, who had succeeded his father. Thus, he became the first U.S. president since Nixon to shun a Syrian leader.

Last summer the Bush administration moved onto the offensive by proposing U.N. Security Council resolution 1559, which demanded an end to the Syrian and Iranian military presence in Lebanon and the disarming of militias, particularly Hezbollah.

Immediately after resolution 1559 was passed Assad hurried to Tehran, where the mullahs told him to prevaricate until after the U.S. presidential election. The mullahs hoped Mr. Bush would be defeated, thus removing pressure on them and their Syrian allies to leave Lebanon alone.

Once the president was re-elected, Tehran and Damascus agreed on a new stratagem: to foment enough trouble in Iraq to leave the U.S. and its coalition allies little appetite for opening a new front in Syria and Lebanon. This, they hoped, would bolster what Assad called "mass popular support" for Syrian presence in Lebanon.

Last week Assad tested his "mass popular support" strategy by calling for a "million-man march" in Beirut in support of Syrian occupation. The marchers were supposed to express Lebanon's rejection of resolution 1559 with cries of "Death to America!" The march was co-sponsored by the Syrian and Lebanese branches of the Baath Party, the Syrian National Socialist Party and the Shiite group Amal. Syrian security chief General Rustam Ghazali bussed hundreds of his agents to Beirut for the demonstration. Hours before the march started, however, it became clear that the three sponsors would not be able to bring in more than 3,000 demonstrators. A last-minute intervention by Tehran persuaded Hezbollah to take part, swelling the ranks of the marchers to some 22,000, according to the police. ...

"We have just had our first march of the masses without the masses."

Hopes of ending the Syrian and Iranian military occupation and putting Lebanon back on the road to democratization have already created a new alliance of Lebanese political forces that encompasses several parties and personalities of the left, center and right from the Christian, Shiite and Druze communities. Since Nov. 22, the Lebanese Independence Day, there have been daily demonstrations against Syrian occupation.

"Those who shout about the right of the Palestinian to self-determination should also say a few words about the right of the Lebanese to run their own house," says Subhi Tufeili, a Shiite cleric who has broken with Hezbollah.

Many Lebanese from all communities echo the sentiment. They point to the fact that there are millions of successful Lebanese all over the world while inside Lebanon poverty, injustice and fear rule. They claim that as long as Syria maintains an army in Lebanon the country will not attract the level of investment it needs to rebuild its shattered economy.

What is certain is that the status quo imposed by Syria on Lebanon almost a generation ago is no longer tenable. Lebanon is entering a period of transition that could lead either to a democratic rebirth or, if Syria and Iran are allowed to dominate the situation, to another civil war with unforeseeable consequences for regional security as a whole. The new Bush administration must push Lebanon higher on its Middle East reform agenda.

Mr. Taheri is an Iranian political commentator based in Paris.

15 posted on 12/07/2004 9:27:17 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

Israeli Arab Caught Spying For Iran

18:58 Dec 07, '04 / 24 Kislev 5765

It was released for publication today that an Arab citizen of Israel, from the village of Baka Al-Gharbia, was arrested last month for spying on behalf of Iran.

Muhammad Ali Ahmed Sayid Ghanem was arrested on suspicion that he was recruited by Iranian intelligence during a trip to Saudi Arabia. During the visit, Ghanem met Iranian intelligence agents with whom he has been in touch ever since.

According to Voice of Israel radio, 57-year-old Ghanem received a number of assignments he was supposed to carry out in Israel on behalf of Iranian intelligence. According to Israeli police, Ghanem did not succeed in carrying out most of the assignments.

The Israeli-Arab spy was arrested on November 9 on suspicion of aiding an enemy state during wartime and having contacts with a foreign agent. He has been under interrogation since then and an indictment is scheduled to be filed today based on Ghanem’s confession, as well as evidence gathered during the investigation.

16 posted on 12/07/2004 9:30:18 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

(AFX UK Focus) 2004-12-07 13:49 GMT:

Total signs agreement on Iran's Pars gas field development with NIOC

PARIS (AFX) - Total SA said it has signed the main commercial terms of the Pars
LNG joint venture with Iran's national oil group NIOC for the development of the
Pars liquid natural gas field.

The signature follows an initial agreement announced in March. Financial details
of the deal were not disclosed.

Total said the project includes development of block 11 in the South Pars field,
by a consortium owned 60 pct by Total and 40 pct by Petronas.

The Pars LNG venture is owned 50 pct by NIOC, 30 pct by Total and 20 pct by

Testing of the fields will begin in 2005, and a final decision on whether to
launch development will be made late next year or early 2006.

17 posted on 12/07/2004 9:33:12 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
DoctorZin Note: Few thought the Soviet Union would collapse and today too few believe in the possibility of the collapse of the Iranian regime. Here is some insight from one who has been there.

A Lowering of Arms

Few in the West expected the Soviet Union to collapse.

By Natan Sharansky with Ron Dermer

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first in a three-part series of excerpts from The Case for Democracy by Natan Sharansky with Ron Dermer. They are taken from the book’s introduction.

Our world has changed so much over the last fifteen years that it may be difficult for today’s reader to get a sense of the degree of skepticism there once was in the West over the possibility of a democratic transformation inside the Soviet Union. In the early 1980s, when some were actually arguing that the Soviet Union could be challenged, confronted, and broken, the possibility was dismissed out of hand. The distinguished historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., expressing the sentiments of nearly all of the Sovietologists, intellectuals, and opinion makers of the time, said that “those in the United States who think the Soviet Union is on the verge of economic and social collapse, ready with one small push to go over the brink are wishful thinkers who are only kidding themselves.”

An even better measure of the skepticism of the era was the absolute shock that greeted the collapse of the USSR. The most prescient politicians, the most learned academics, the most perceptive journalists did not foresee that hundreds of millions of people could be liberated from decades of totalitarian rule in just a few months. In April 1989, just seven months before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Senator J. William Fulbright, who had served for 15 years as chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, co-authored an article dismissing the views of those in the “evil empire school” who believed that Gorbachev’s reforms were “no more than the final, feeble, foredoomed effort to hold off the historically inevitable collapse of a wicked system based on an evil philosophy.”2 Instead, Fulbright offered insight into how the “détente school,” in which he included himself, understood the changes that were then taking place behind the Iron Curtain:

We suspect that the reforms being carried out in the Soviet Union and Hungary may be evidence not of the terminal enfeeblement of Marxism but of a hitherto unsuspected resiliency and adaptability, of something akin to Roosevelt’s New Deal, which revived and rejuvenated an apparently moribund capitalism in the years of Great Depression.

If scholars and leaders in the West could be so blind to what was happening only months before the fall of the Berlin Wall, imagine what the thinking was in 1975. Back then, the suggestion that the Soviet Union’s collapse was inevitable, much less imminent, would have been regarded as absurd by everyone.

Well, almost everyone.

In 1969, a Soviet dissident named Andrei Amalrik wrote Will The Soviet Union Survive Until 1984?, in which he predicted the collapse of the USSR. Amalrik, to whom I would later have the privilege to teach English, explained that any state forced to devote so much of its energies to physically and psychologically controlling millions of its own subjects could not survive indefinitely. The unforgettable image he left the reader with was that of a soldier who must always point a gun at his enemy. His arms begin to tire until their weight becomes unbearable. Exhausted, he lowers his weapon and his prisoner escapes.

While many in the West hailed Amalrik’s courage — he was imprisoned for years and exiled for his observations — almost no one outside the Soviet Union took his ideas seriously. When he wrote his book, short-sighted democratic leaders were convinced the USSR would last forever, and according to many economic indicators, the Soviet Union appeared to be closing the gap on the U.S. Amalrik must have seemed downright delusional.

But inside the USSR, Amalrik’s book was not dismissed as the ranting of a lunatic. The leadership knew that Amalrik had exposed the Soviet regime’s soft underbelly. They understood their vulnerability to dissident ideas: Even the smallest spark of freedom could set their entire totalitarian world ablaze. That’s why dissidents were held in isolation, dissident books were confiscated, and every typewriter had to be registered with the authorities. The regime knew the volatile potential of free thought and speech, so they spared no effort at extinguishing the spark.

I was arrested in 1977 on charges of high treason as well as for “anti-Soviet” activities. After my own mock trial a year later, I was sentenced to thirteen years in prison. In 1984, my KGB jailers, swelling with pride, reminded me of Amalrik’s prediction: “You see, Amalrik is dead” — he had died in a car accident in France in 1980 — “and the USSR is still standing!”

But Almarik’s prediction had not missed by much. Within a few months of that encounter in the Gulag, Mikhail Gorbachev came to power. Faced with an American administration ready to confront him and realizing that the Soviet regime no longer had the strength both to maintain control of its subjects and compete with the West, Gorbachev reluctantly implemented his “glasnost” reforms. This limited attempt at “openness” would usher in changes far beyond what Gorbachev intended. Just as Amalrik had predicted, the second the regime lowered its arms, the people it had terrorized for decades overwhelmed it.

Natan Sharansky, a former Soviet dissident and political prisoner, is author of the memoir Fear No Evil and currently serves as the Israeli minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora affairs. Ron Dermer is a political consultant and former columnist for the Jerusalem Post.

18 posted on 12/07/2004 9:42:55 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

Iran Says It's Self-sufficient In Nuclear Fuel

[Excerpt] December 07, 2004
Dow Jones Newswires

TEHRAN -- In a what appeared to be a signal to Europe, Iran 's top nuclear negotiator said Tuesday that his country had achieved the ability to produce its own fuel for nuclear reactors. "Iran has attained full self-sufficiency in producing nuclear fuel for its nuclear power plants," state TV and radio quoted Hassan Rowhani as saying.

In the texts read out by the newscasters, Rowhani didn't say when the self-sufficiency was achieved.

Iranian officials have previously said their country has the technological ability to enrich uranium to the level required for reactor fuel. Rowhani's statement Tuesday appeared to be designed to emphasize the point ahead of negotiations due to start with the European Union later this month.

Last month, Iran reached an agreement with the "big three" European nations - the U.K., France and Germany - in terms of which Iran is suspending its enrichment and related activities while it negotiates a long-term agreement with the European Union on Iran 's nuclear program.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, is to monitor the suspension. The U.S. believes Iran has a secret program to build nuclear weapons and has been lobbying for the country to be referred to the U.N. Security Council, which could impose sanctions.

Iran denies the U.S. allegations and, in his statement Tuesday, Rowhani reiterated that the country would only pursue peaceful nuclear energy. ...

The Europeans have pushed for Iran to declare a permanent halt to uranium enrichment, but Iran has repeatedly refused this. Uranium enriched to a low grade is used as fuel in nuclear reactors. When it is enriched to a high degree, it is suitable for making atomic bombs.

19 posted on 12/07/2004 9:45:31 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

Young Iranian criminals fear execution day

07 Dec 2004 05:59:54 GMT
Source: Reuters
TEHRAN, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Instead of celebrating his 18th birthday at home with friends and family this month, Ali Torabi will be wondering if it will be his last.

Torabi is one of at least 12 juvenile offenders sentenced to death by Iran's hardline courts and held in detention centres until they are deemed old enough to be executed without attracting international criticism, human rights activists say.

Although it is a signatory of U.N. conventions which forbid the execution of young offenders, Iran continues to sentence them to death and carry out the verdict when they reach 18.

"Ali is my only son, my life. I want to see him grow old. He is too young to die," sobbed his father, Mohammad Torabi.

A human rights lawyer said Iran has executed some under-age offenders in the past. A 1998 U.N. report said four juveniles aged between 16 and 17, were executed in Iran from 1990 to 1992.

"I can not reveal the number but there were boys aged under 18 who were executed inside prison," said the lawyer, who asked not to be named. "But the last one took place almost five years ago. It has stopped due to heightened international pressure."

Nevertheless death sentences have continued to be imposed on young offenders, convicted of murder, rape or drug smuggling, in direct contravention of the international Treaty on Civil and Political Rights, the lawyer said.

The judiciary recently announced plans to outlaw the death penalty for offenders of less than 18 years. Lawyers say the planned reform does not go far enough as it still gives the judge discretionary powers to over rule it if he deems a young offender to have been "mature" at the time of the crime.

"The bill should clearly ban juvenile execution. A judge should not be authorised to choose," said Shirin Ebadi, winner of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her human rights work in Iran. "The bill needs changes."

Ebadi said changing the law was difficult because of Islamic Sharia law which is the most important influence on Iran's legal system. Under Sharia adulthood in men is thought to start at the age of 15 and in girls at nine.

A planned rally to denounce juvenile death sentences was banned by the Interior Ministry last month, said Ebadi, who is representing another young offender sentenced to death.

Iran's judiciary has shown some flexibility on such issues before. Under pressure from the European Union, Tehran has stopped sentencing women adulterers to death by stoning and this year issued a new directive banning the use of torture to obtain confessions.

The EU parliament condemned Iran in October for passing death sentences on child offenders. The parliament hoped that judicial reform would bring an end to such "inhumane" practice.

In November, Canada voiced its concern over the violation of human rights in Iran by tabling a resolution, backed by 33 countries, at the United Nations General Assembly.

"We believe Iran needs to hear from the global community that change is necessary," the resolution said.

Iran's reformist government has repeatedly voiced concern over the impact such issues have on the Islamic state.

"Such sentences directly affect our international image. It should be stopped," said a government official who asked not to be named.

It is not clear whether the planned legal reform of juvenile sentences will come in time to save Ali Torabi, whose sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court in October.

Ali was convicted and sentenced to death after he killed a classmate during a school fight when he was 15. Police said he carried out the killing intentionally.

His father said Ali, a keen sportsman and good student, lacked the maturity to stand up for himself under police questioning.

"He was scared to death and he said things to ease the pressure," Mohammad Torabi said. "He is just a boy who is even afraid of the dark."

Ali's family has pleaded in vain with the parents of the victim numerous times over the last three years to show clemency and drop their complaint.

"They are angry. I understand their sorrow and pain. There is no love like a parent's love," Torabi said.

He still hopes for a last-minute reprieve.

"Ali has been punished enough by imagining his execution day for the past three years."

20 posted on 12/07/2004 9:53:55 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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