Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Iran: Old Guards Return.

Date: Wednesday 14 December 2005
Subj: Iran: Old Guards Return.
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal.

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IRAN: OLD GUARDS RETURN
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Iran's Revolutionary Guards and Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), two groups whose names are synonymous with Iranian repression and terror, are making a comeback under President Ahmadinejad.

As noted in the WEA RLC News & Analysis report entitled "The Islamic Revolution is now complete" (29 August 2005), "Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has flooded the Majlis (parliament) with former Revolutionary Guards while Ayatollah Khamenei has made key changes in security structures and strategies to entrench the Revolutionary Guards' hegemony over all law enforcement agencies."

Now Iran's MPs are purging their domains of Khatami-era officials and replacing them with heavy-handed hardliners, including many former senior secret police from the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) who were complicit in the serial murders of dissidents and intellectuals that took place in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s. President Khatami's sensitivity to international relations led to these murderers being removed from positions of public authority, but now under President Ahmadinejad they are making a comeback. For this regime, a proved track record in brutality, assassination and inflexible hard-line Islamic ideology makes an ideal prerequisite for a government job. In fact, having hands that are stained with the blood of Christian martyrs appears to be a perfect prerequisite for a senior position in the Ministry of Interior.

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PERSECUTION ESCALATES DRAMATICALLY

On 22 November, Pastor Ghorban Dordi Tourani (53) was kidnapped from his home and stabbed to death, allegedly by an unnamed group of fanatical Muslims. His body was later dumped back at his home. Pastor Tourani, a convert from Islam, was pastoring an independent fellowship of convert Christians in Gonbad-e-Kavus, northeastern Iran. He is survived by his widow and four children aged between 3 and 23yrs.

Compass Direct reports, "Within hours of the November 22 murder, local secret police arrived at the martyred pastor's home, searching for Bibles and other banned Christian books in the Farsi language. By the end of the following day, the secret police had also raided the houses of all other known Christian believers in the city.

"According to one informed Iranian source, during the past eight days representatives of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) have arrested and severely tortured 10 other Christians in several cities, including Tehran. All the detainees have since been released.

"In addition, MOIS officials have visited known Christian leaders since Tourani's murder and have instructed them to warn acquaintances in the unofficial, Protestant house fellowships that 'the government knows what you are doing, and we will come for you soon'." (CD, 28 Nov 2005)

OLD GUARD MOIS RETURNS: TO THE INTERIOR MINISTRY...

Hojjatoleslam Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, a Shiite cleric who was the Deputy Minister of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) for some 13 years during the late 80s and throughout the 90s has been appointed as Iran's Interior Minister. Iran Focus reports, "Critics charge that Pour-Mohammadi is replacing Interior Ministry officials with former colleagues from the secret police, thus creating another security apparatus." (Link 1)

Two of Pour-Mohammadi's appointments to senior positions in the Interior Ministry are: Mahmoud Saeedi, the former director of MOIS in Isfahan province, who has been appointed as Director General of the Interior Ministry; and Shahab Goodarzi, the former deputy director of MOIS in Isfahan, who has been appointed as Director of Security in the Interior Ministry.

It is of great concern that Iran's Interior Ministry, a ministry that has control of the security forces and is responsible for preserving political stability, is to be run by men who were senior MOIS officials during Iran's dark and bloody days of the serial murders of dissidents and intellectuals. Iranian Christians may feel an especially cold chill, as Saeedi comes into the Interior Ministry with the blood of Christian martyrs on his hands.

Iran Focus reports, "A former senior official in Iran's dreaded secret police, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), who personally oversaw the gruesome murders of two Christian bishops and a priest in Iran in the 1990s, has been appointed as the new Director General of the country's Interior Ministry.

"Mahmoud Saeedi, who formerly headed the MOIS department in Isfahan Province, was removed from his position in 1999 under mounting pressure on the Iranian government after it became clear that his agents had carried out the brutal murder of three Anglican Church figures in Iran."

Investigations by dissident investigative journalist Akbar Ganji (now imprisoned) revealed that MOIS was responsible for the serial killings of dissidents and intellectuals that took place through the 1990s, and that the murders of Bishop Haik Hovsepian Mehr, Bishop Tateos Michaelian, and Reverend Mehdi Dibaj were ordered by Deputy Intelligence Minister Saeed Emami and carried out by a team under the command of Mahmoud Saeedi.

According to Iran Focus, after Mahmoud Saeedi was removed from MOIS, he went to work with other former senior MOIS officials in the Special Security Office of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iran Focus reports that Saeedi's boss in Khamenei's Special Security Office "was Hojjatoleslam Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi".

So Iran's Interior Ministry, which is responsible for maintaining internal stability and security, is now being led by old guard MOIS officials who have already demonstrated their willingness to persecute and assassinate dissidents, intellectuals and Christian leaders.

.. AND TO THE MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND ISLAMIC GUIDANCE

Former Revolutionary Guard, Mohammad Hossein Saffar Harandi, Iran's new Minister for Culture and Islamic Guidance, is also purging his subordinates. He is determined that books, journalism, visual arts, film, music and all cultural pursuits must conform to and re-enforce Iran's Islamic ideology and the strictest of Islamic values.

Most interestingly, the Iran Press Service reports, "Masha'allah Shamsolva'ezin, spokesman for the Tehran-based Association for Advocating Freedom of Press, said that state pressure on journalists has increased since [President] Ahmadi Nezhad took office. According to Shamsolvaezin, the culture ministry, in cooperation with intelligence and security forces, has in recent weeks called in many journalists for questioning without apparent reasons. The goal clearly is to intimidate them. Many of those pressing journalists are former employees of the Ministry of Intelligence [MOIS] who were fired under Khatami for their involvement in killing intellectuals and political activists." (Link 2)

The article at link 2, entitled, "Tehran renews war on culture" gives details of measures to control, police and further Islamise journalism, book publishing, musical performances, women's dress, and universities. This Islamic "war" against Persian culture will doubtless continue until Persians decide they want their Persian culture back.

MOTIVATIONS

President Ahmadinejad is committed to preparing Iran for what he firmly believes is the inevitable, even immanent return of the "hidden 12th Imam". I (EK) have to confess that I am not exactly sure what is required to hasten the Imam's return, but I think it might be a pure Islamic Iran surrounded by a world in chaos. If Ahmadinejad is pursuing this scenario, then that is disturbing on several fronts.

A few interesting articles on the religious motivations of President Ahmadinejad can be found at link 3. This is a subject that deserves closer attention, because Ahmadinejad's faith in and expectation of a messiah-style immanently returning 12th Imam reduces his devotion to the Guardian Council, expunges his interest in international opinion, but increases his zeal for an uncompromising, aggressive and authoritative Revolutionary Guard and MOIS to help usher in his apocalypse.

Links

1) Iran appoints murderer of Christian bishops to key position.
22 Nov 2005
http://www.iranfocus.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=4532

2) Tehran renews war on culture
By Mahdi Khalaji, 26 November 2005
http://www.iran-press-service.com/ips/articles-2005/november-2005/culture_crackdown_261105.shtml

3) Iran president paves the way for Arabs' imam return
By Paul Hughes, Reuters,17 Nov 2005
http://www.iranian.ws/iran_news/publish/article_10945.shtml

Second coming for imam is first concern for Iranian president
By Najmeh Bozorgmehr and Gareth Smyth.
Financial Times. 9 November 2005
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1519153/posts

Shi'ite supremacists emerge from Iran's shadows
Asia Times On-line. 9 Sept 2005
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/GI09Ak01.html

Religion Versus Reality
By Richard Ernsberger Jr. Newsweek International. 12 Dec 2005
http://msnbc.msn.com/id/10313618/site/newsweek/

President of Iran: Hallucinations of a psychopath. 3 Dec 2005
By Bahman Aghai Diba, PhD International Law - Persian Journal
http://www.iranian.ws/iran_news/publish/article_11240.shtml