Date: Friday 29 July 2005
Subj: Iran: Lovers of Martyrdom Garrison - recruiting now.
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal.
IRAN: LOVERS OF MARTYRDOM GARRISON - RECRUITING NOW
- initiated and sanctioned at the highest levels.
Iran Focus reports from Tehran, "A military garrison has been opened in Iran to recruit and train volunteers for 'martyrdom-seeking operations', according to the garrison's commander, Mohammad-Reza Jaafari. (Link 1)
"Jaafari, a senior officer in the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), told a hard-line weekly close to Iran's ultra-conservative President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the new 'Lovers of Martyrdom Garrison' (Gharargahe Asheghane Shahadat, in Persian) would recruit individuals willing to carry out suicide operations against Western targets.
"The full text of the original interview in Persian can be seen on the weekly's website at www.partosokhan.ir/283/page08.pdf ." According to Iran Focus the interview is titled "Commander of Lovers of Martyrdom Garrison: Let America and Israel know, each of our suicide volunteers equals a nuclear bomb".
Jaafari told the weekly Parto-Sokhan, "The Lovers of Martyrdom Garrison has been activated and we will form a Martyrdom-seeking Division for each province in the country, organised in brigades, battalions and companies to defend Islam."
According to Iran Focus, Parto-Sokhan is published in the Shiite holy city of Qom by the Imam Khomeini Educational and Research Institute, whose chairman, hard-line cleric Ayatollah Mohammad-Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, is regarded as the ideological mentor of President-elect Ahmadinejad.
Jaafari also said the martyrdom force was being implemented on the basis of instructions from the Commander-in-Chief of Iran's Armed Forces.
Iran Focus quotes Jaafari as saying, "In Tehran alone, there will be four martyrdom-seeking divisions", adding that "we are currently in the process of recruitment and organisation and soon volunteers will receive training in accordance to their assigned missions". Jaafari boasted that the 'Lovers of Martyrdom Garrison' had set up branches all over Iran and was presently working to convince youths to enlist.
Jaafari also said that the Lovers of Martyrdom Garrison would "spot martyrdom-seeking individuals in society and then recruit and organise them, so that, God willing, at the right moment when the Commander-in-Chief of the country's armed forces [Ayatollah Khamenei] gives the order, they would be able to enter the scene and carry out their missions".
This statement forces the question, what do "martyrdom-seeking individuals" look or act like? The strategy sounds reminiscent of various Palestinian terror groups, who don't just limit their recruitment to radicalised, militant Islamists who crave the glory of a martyr's death, but also seek out depressed and compromised youths and offer them the opportunity to escape their misery and redeem their honour through martyrdom for Allah. Considering the extent of Iran's social problems, with unemployment, homelessness, drug addiction and prostitution being rife amongst youth, this would not be too difficult.
Jaafari also said, "The Imam [Khomeini] said years ago that Israel must be wiped off the face of the Earth, but so far practical steps have not been taken to achieve this. Our garrison must spot, recruit, organise and train martyrdom-seeking persons to be able to materialise this objective."
According to Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Al-Arabiya TV broadcast on 2 July the news that Iran had already recruited some 40,000 volunteers who were ready to martyr themselves for the liberation of Islamic lands. (Link 2)
As part of the recruitment drive, Lovers of Martyrdom Garrison's has a regular advertisment published in Parto Sokhan. The advertisment and application form, with English translation, can be found at Link 3.
AHMADINEJAD - MARTYRDOM IS THE MOST DIVINE "ARTMANSHIP"
On Monday 25 July, President Ahmadinejad met with a group of Iranian cinematographers. (Using the relative freedom they had under former President Khatami, Iran's cinematographers gained a reputation for cinematic brilliance and have been praised by critics worldwide.)
Ahmadinejad reminded the artists that "the Islamic Revolution is by nature a cultural revolution". Ahmadinejad said that Iranian and Islamic cultures are totally inseparable from one another, praising the Islamic Republic of Iran for its rich cultural background.
Ahmadinejad's assertion that Iranian and Islamic cultures are totally inseparable is of course totally false. Iran's rich cultural heritage does not result from Islam, but from the incredible intellectual and artistic richness of Persian culture. Persian culture and civilisation brought richness to Islam. Islam needs Persians far more than Persians need Islam. Iranian culture was far richer before the Islamic Revolution, which was indeed a cultural revolution, with tragic consequences for thinkers and artists.
It is most interesting however, that in concluding his message to the cinematographers, President Ahmadinejad turned his focus to what he referred to as Iran's "Culture of Sacred Defense". The Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) quotes Ahmadinejad as saying that this "Culture of Sacred Defense" is not the culture of war, but the culture of "living more appropriately and dying the best possible death". IRNA reports, "He [Ahmadinejad] said that martyrdom is the 'most gracious, most divine and longest lasting kind of artmanship'." (Link 4)
1) Iran opens garrison to recruit suicide bombers against West
Iran Focus, Fri. 22 July 2005
2) Special Dispatch No. 929 - Iran/Jihad & Terrorism
Al-Arabiya TV Report: Iranian Volunteer Suicide Bomber Organization of 40,000 "Time Bombs" Recruited to Target Americans in Iraq and Israel. 6 July 2005
3) Iran weekly advertises "application form" for suicide operations
Iran Focus, Sat. 23 July 2005
4) President elect meets a group of country's cinematographers
Islamic Republic News Agency, Tehran, 26 July 2005
JUST RELEASED – MEMRI
Special Dispatch No. 945 - Iran/Jihad & Terrorism Project
Iran's New President Glorifies Martyrdom. 29 July 2005