New Evidence of Fraud in 2009 Election
by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles
11 Aug 2010 15:13
[ analysis ] Seven leading Reformist political figures have filed a lawsuit against several commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for their intervention in Iran's rigged presidential election of June 12, 2009, and its aftermath. The seven plaintiffs include four members of the Organization of Islamic Revolution Mojahedin (OIRM) -- Behzad Nabavi, Mostafa Tajzadeh, Dr. Mohsen Aminzadeh, and Fayzollah Arabsorkhi -- and three members of the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF) -- Dr. Mohsen Mirdamadi, Dr. Abdollah Ramezan-Zadeh, and Mohsen Safaei-Farahani. They describe in their lawsuit how the Guard commanders planned the election "victory" of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad long in advance and what they did in order to achieve their goal. The OIRM and IIPF are the two leading Reformist political groups to have been outlawed by the judiciary. All seven plaintiffs were arrested almost immediately after the election. After Stalinist-style show trials, they were all given long jail sentences.
Nabavi served in the government in the 1980s, and was deputy speaker of the 6th Majles (parliament) from 2000 to 2004. Tajzadeh was deputy interior minister in the first Khatami administration. Aminzadeh was deputy foreign minister and Arabsorkhi was deputy agriculture minister in both Khatami administrations. Mirdamadi, one of the three main leaders of the students who took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in November 1979, was chairman of the National Security Committee of the Majles in 2000-4, and is currently secretary-general of the IIPC. Ramezan-Zadeh, formerly governor-general of Kurdistan province, was chief government spokesman in the second Khatami administration. Safaei-Farahani was a Majles representative from Tehran in 2000-4.
The basis for the lawsuit is a speech given by a hitherto little-known but high-ranking Guard officer, Sardar (commander) Moshfegh, who is linked with the Guards' intelligence unit and is deputy director of intelligence for the Sarallah military base. Moshfegh delivered the speech in question to a group of clerics in Mashhad last fall. Quoting from the speech, the plaintiffs point out how their arrest warrants were requested by the Guard command center in Sarallah several days prior to the election. Nabavi and others have previously said that when the security forces arrested them, the warrants were dated before the election.
The lawsuit also describes how Moshfegh bragged about the Guard commanders' plans for subverting the campaigns of the Reformist candidates long before it was even known which individuals would run; what the Guards did to disrupt the work of Mir Hossein Mousavi campaign's 40,000 volunteer election monitors on the eve of the vote; and how they eavesdropped on the internal discussions of the campaigns of Mousavi and the other Reformist candidate, Mehdi Karroubi. A fundamentalist blogger, Mohammad Javan Akhavan, who claims to be an engineering student, has posted Moshfegh's speech (available in Persian here and here).
Some background information on Moshfegh: It is not even clear that this is his true name. He has also been known as Ahmad Jahan Bozorgi. Born in 1955, he is a long-time student and follower of Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, Ahmadinejad's spiritual advisor. He has been an intelligence agent for many years. It has been reported that after the arrest of Reformist leaders, including the plaintiffs, in July 2009, he participated in their interrogation. He then repeatedly described to the members of the Basij militia what was said, or supposedly said, or his interpretation thereof. It has also been reported that he prepared a long report on the interrogations that was submitted to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Last year he headed the government-administered College of Intelligence. He has apparently been known by yet another alias, "Brother Beheshti," and is reputed to have had close links with Saeed Eslami (aka Saeed Emami), leader of the gang of intelligence agents that committed the infamous Chain Murders. He is known to be a close friend of the radical cleric Ruhollah Hossenian, who used to work at the Ministry of Intelligence. Hossenian famously rejected the accusations against Eslami -- concerning the killing of political figures by intelligence agents, Hossenian declared, "We were a murderer ourselves; murders are not done that way."
According to the transcript of his Mashhad speech, Moshfegh accuses six Reformist groups -- the OIRM; the IIPC; the Association of the Combatant Clerics (ACC), led by Khatami and Ayatollah Mohammad Mousavi Khoeiniha; the Executives of Reconstruction Party, close to former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani; and the small Solidarity and Democratic parties -- of controlling both Khatami administrations and backing all types of conspiracies to destroy the Islamic Republic.
Toward the end of his presidency, Khatami said that the hardliners created a crisis for him and the nation every nine days. Moshfegh claims that all the major crises of which Khatami spoke were in fact created by the Reformists themselves, in order to defame the Principlists (the hardliners' self-anointed name). He references the infamous Chain Murders -- specifically mentioning Saeed Eslami -- and the attempt in the spring of 2000 to assassinate Dr. Saeed Hajjarian, a leading Reformist strategist. Moshfegh claims that these acts were conceived and executed by what he calls the "thinking room of the reforms."
Moshfegh then speaks about the online attack on Sayyed Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in the winter of 2008, right before the elections for the 8th Majles. An obscure website, Nosaazi (Reconstruction), which is run by a young fundamentalist named Nobakhti, criticized the younger Khomeini at the time. In Nosaazi's description, "his cheeks are rosy," due to the comfortable life that he enjoys as the grandson of the ayatollah, one that allows him to drive a BMW around Tehran. According to the Guard commander, Nobakhti, consequently arrested and interrogated, reported that Tajzadeh had told him that the next Supreme Leader would be the younger Khomeini. Nobakhti had therefore felt compelled to stage the attack on him, in order to protect Khamenei. So, once again, a leading Reformist is accused of being responsible for what the hardliners have done. In fact, Moshfegh talks about Tajzadeh with a mixture of admiration, for what he calls Tajzadeh's skills in psychological warfare, and disgust, for being a Reformist.
Moshfegh then claims that in the 2008 elections, 180 reformist candidates were allowed to run. The actual number was 105. He declares that they were heavily defeated and could form only a "weak" minority in the 8th Majles. In reality, out of the 105 candidates, most of whom were little known -- because all of the well-known Reformists had been barred from running -- 60 were elected. In other words, in those districts where Reformists were allowed to campaign, they won almost 60 percent of the seats, an absolute majority. And those Reformist representatives, together with 30 independent deputies, form a bloc of about 90, almost one-third of the total Majles -- hardly a "weak" minority.
Moshfegh then claims that the Reformists, due to their "defeat" in the 8th Majles elections, decided that they should be led by the ACC, the group of leftist clerics close to Ayatollah Khomeini. Moshfegh asserts that he has irrefutable documents that show that ACC chief Khoeiniha has always been linked to foreign intelligence agencies, which begs the question, Why has he not been arrested? As "evidence" for his claim, Moshfegh states that when Khoeiniha -- spiritual advisor to the leftist Islamic students involved in the 1979 embassy takeover -- was asked whether he had solicited Khomeini's view on the raid prior to the hostage crisis, Khoeiniha responded, "No, we did not, because if we had asked his opinion, he would have opposed the idea, due to his position" as leader of the Revolution. Moshfegh then explains that this establishes Khoeiniha's culpability in a tactic used by the Western powers -- ordering their agents in countries such as Iran to attack their embassies, in order to discredit the targeted nation. In other words, an event that the hardliners have always proclaimed proudly as the "second" revolution is reframed by Moshfegh as a conspiracy by the United States and its Iranian agents against the Islamic Republic.
Moshfegh then claims that Khoeiniha was also involved in the mission that former President Jimmy Carter ordered to attempt a rescue of the embassy hostages. The mission, dubbed Operation Eagle Claw, was aborted in a desert in central Iran, after a sandstorm damaged three helicopters and caused a fourth to collide with a transport plane, killing eight U.S. Special Operations servicemen. Moshfegh does not specify how Khoeiniha was involved. He also accuses Khoeiniha of involvement in the so-called Nojeh Coup, an attempt on July 11, 1980, by a group of military officers loyal to Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his last prime minister, Shapour Bakhtiar, to overthrow the newly founded Islamic Republic. The attempt failed, and most of the officers were executed or expelled from the military.
Moshfegh also claims that Khoeiniha was responsible for educating and training two assassins, Akbar Goudarzi and Mohammad Kashani, members of an anti-clerical but militant Muslim group, the Forqan, that killed several leading revolutionary figures in 1979-81. He also accuses Khoeiniha of playing a lead role in the university student uprising of July 1998.
He then declares that the effort by Khoeiniha, Mohammad Hashemi -- the younger brother of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani -- Behzad Nabavi, and others to achieve a Reformist victory in last year's election demonstrates their desire to remove Supreme Leader Khamenei from the center of power in Iran. He quotes Nabavi as purportedly saying, "We should identify Ahmadinejad as the Leader's candidate, because once he is defeated, it will be a great defeat for the Leader as well." Referring back to Khatami's defeat of Ali Akbar Nategh Nouri, once a favored presidential candidate of Khamenei's, Nabavi supposedly continued, "We did this once in 1997 and [Khamenei] could hardly recover. This time, he will receive the final blow."
Moshfegh then says that for two years prior to last year's election, the Reformists held weekly meetings on Monday nights to strategize about the upcoming campaign. He said that, in addition to Tajzadeh, Aminzadeh, Arabsorkhi, and Mirdamadi, other leading Reformists took part, including Mohammad Ali Abtahi, Khatami's vice president; Aldolvahed Mousavi Lari, Khatami's interior minister; diplomat Mohammad Sadr; Mohammad Reza Khatami, the former president's younger brother; journalist Mohammad Naeimipour; and IIPC Central Committee member Saeed Shariati, who was arrested following the election and turned against the Reformists after his release.
Another facet of the Reformists' attempt to return to power, according to Moshfegh, was Khatami's founding of the think tank Baran after he stepped down from the presidency in 2005. Baran -- an acronym for the full Persian name, which translates as Foundation for Freedom, Growth, and Development of Iran -- consists of former high officials in the Khatami and Rafsanjani administrations, moderate and progressive clerics, leading Reformist politicians and journalists, academics, and others. Baran has been holding regular, open monthly meetings since its inception to discuss issues facing the nation. According to Moshfegh, Abtahi supposedly said that the meetings were meant to send a message to the West that Khatami will again be a powerful president. Moshfegh also accuses Khatami of forming a shadow cabinet that awaits his return to power.
Moshfegh then turns to a different series of meetings, which he says provided another venue for Reformist schemes to reclaim power. Organized by Mehdi Hashemi, weekly breakfast sessions were held for two years every Thursday, rotating between the Reformists' homes. Moshfegh accuses Hashemi of being linked with foreign intelligence agencies, of organizing riots and attacks on government buildings and banks, of insulting Khamenei, and other crimes. He claims that the Guards have arrested a man whom Hashemi was paying $800 a day to set fires to buildings in east Tehran, another man who was supposedly doing the same in west Tehran for $1,000 a day, and a third who was organizing mobs to participate in riots for $2,000 a day. Altogether, Hashemi spent about $200,000 on such ventures, according to Moshfegh.
No well-known hardline figure, not even in the ultra-conservative judiciary, has ever publicly made such claims. In particular, Mehdi Hashemi has never been accused of committing such crimes, and the three arrested men supposedly on his payroll have never appeared in a court nor in any other public setting to "confess" to their crimes. Obviously, almost all of what Moshfegh says are complete lies. In effect, much of his speech is a deceitful attempt to justify the actual, heinous crimes that he and his group committed against the people of Iran to prevent, or at least contain, the rapid decline of support for the hardliners after last year's election.
Moshfegh then talks about what Mehdi Hashemi did for the autumn 2006 elections for the Assembly of Experts, the constitutional body that appoints the Supreme Leader and can theoretically sack him. The hardliners wanted to make sure that Rafsanjani, running for a seat from Tehran province, was not elected. To discredit him if that failed, they planned to claim that he had received a small number of votes. In order to prevent the planned vote fraud, Mehdi Hashemi organized his father's election monitors in Tehran and other cities in the province in an ingenious way. Each monitor was given a cell phone to report vote counts on an hourly basis to a central office. To avoid attempts by the hardliners to disrupt transmissions from the cell phones, they were connected to the center via satellite dish, rather than the normal route through Iran's communication network. As a result, the hardliners were unable to commit any large-scale fraud. Rafsanjani was elected with the largest number of votes. Just as importantly, the hardliners were not able to conceal the fact that Ayatollah Yazdi, Ahmadinejad's spiritual advisor, received few votes, even after some that had been cast for Gholamreza Mesbahi, a relatively moderate cleric, were "read" for Yazdi.
Hashemi, a strong supporter of Mousavi, organized a similar monitoring network for last year's rigged election. According to Moshfegh, Hashemi set up three nerve centers to collect incoming data. Three because, according to Moshfegh, if two were discovered by security forces, the third could continue. Note that all the centers were set up to do was maintain a tally of the votes. According to Moshfegh, all three centers were discovered on the eve of the election, and their work was stopped.
The account that Moshfegh gives of disrupting the work of Mousavi's election monitors confirms the Reformists' accounts of what occurred. In fact, one of Mousavi's main complaints was that his monitors were prevented from reporting the fraud that was taking place. Moshfegh's speech is the first confirmation by a pro-regime figure of the accuracy of Mousavi's accusations.
Moshfegh accuses Mousavi of wanting to separate religion from governance. According to the Guard commander, Mousavi has said that a religious government is meaningless and ineffective. Religious people can govern, if elected, but not in a religious government. Moshfegh then links this thinking to that of Iran's Nationalist-Religious Coalition, led by Ezatollah Sahabi (an appropriate connection), but also, bizarrely, to that of American political scientist Samuel Huntington, proponent of the "Clash of Civilizations" theory of geopolitics. According to Moshfegh, Mousavi at the same time somehow believes in an ideology that Moshfegh calls "Orientalist Marxism."
According to Moshfegh, the Reformists did not want Mousavi or Karroubi to run. Even Khatami, he says, was worried about Mousavi running. But Khoeiniha and Nabavi, by Moshfegh's account, had told Khatami that they wanted only to use Mousavi's name. If he insisted on running, they would publicize photos of his wife, Dr. Zahra Rahnavard, taken before the 1979 Revolution, supposedly showing her in public without the hejab. As for Karroubi and his National Trust Party, Moshfegh claims that Nabavi said, "We will give him the control of two to three ministries. But if he insists on running, we will investigate what he did as head of the Shahid Foundation," a vast charitable organization founded to look after veterans of the Iran-Iraq war and the 1979 Revolution. Moshfegh claims that the information was presented to both Mousavi and Karroubi, and that it created a big rift between them and the Reformists, which was somehow resolved. Moshfegh also claims that the political changes that the Reformists espouse are not true reforms, but U.S.-formulated and hence fake reforms crafted to topple the Islamic Republic.
The reality is completely opposite to Moshfegh's claims. First, of course, the purported photos of Dr. Rahnavard have never surfaced. Even if they existed, they would prove nothing, though it is widely believed that the hardliners claimed that they had such photos to discourage Mousavi from running in the presidential elections in 1997 and 2005. And the truth is that Khatami actually preferred that Mousavi run and said that Mousavi could best resist the pressure of the hardliners. Moshfegh later contradicts himself on this very point, in fact, when he claims that Mousavi recognized that Khatami was not enthusiastic about pursuing the presidency and thus decided to run himself. As for Karroubi, nothing else has ever been said against him, even by the hardliners, regarding his work at the Shahid Foundation. Nabavi has strongly denied the statements and positions Moshfegh attributes to him, as has Mousavi.
Moshfegh contradicts himself again when he talks about Khatami. He claims that Khatami told the Reformists, "I can counter and handle the Leader and the Principlists, but I do not know how to solve my problems with you. Some of you say, ignore the Qu'ran. Some say, ignore the Constitution. And some say, ignore the Leader. But I do not dare to do such things." As a result, according to Moshfegh, the Reformists began threatening Khatami -- the same man who was supposedly worried about Mousavi running for election -- and demanding he make sacrifices on behalf of reform. They told him, according to Moshfegh, that if he did not run, they would not support Mousavi. To which Khatami supposedly responded, "With such thinking, if I run, then I will be destroyed, regardless of whether I won or lose!"
Then, according to Moshfegh, Khatami was told that after he announced his candidacy, he should travel to Shiraz and Bushehr in southern Iran, where the Reformists would arrange for crowds of 35,000 people to greet him. But when Khatami arrived in each city, only 5,000 people showed up. Consequently, according to Moshfegh, Khatami realized that all the polls with which he had been presented, showing that people would vote for him, were false. And thus, says Moshfegh, Khatami decided not to run. The truth, again, is very different: The number of people who showed up to greet Khatami in both cities was much larger than even 35,000, which shocked and scared the hardliners.
According to Moshfegh, when Mousavi announced his candidacy, Khoeiniha became really angry. The cleric supposedly said that he and his group did not like Mousavi even back when he was prime minister and supported by Ayatollah Khomeini. According to Moshfegh, Khoeiniha believed that it was Mousavi who forced Khomeini to accept U.N. Security Council Resolution 598, which called for a ceasefire between Iran and Iraq, and that Mousavi did not really believe in the "holy defense," as the war against Iraq was called.
The reality, one more time, is the complete opposite. It was the ACC and Khoeiniha who asked Mousavi to run in the 1997 elections. After he refused, they turned to Khatami. In 2005, the ACC and Khoeiniha again asked Mousavi to run, and were again rebuffed. It was then that they put up Dr. Mostafa Moein, former minister of higher education under Khatami, as their candidate.
Moshfegh also claims that Western and Arab countries did not like Mousavi, because they believe that he is a Marxist. But, then, Khatami -- that same man who Moshfegh says did not want Mousavi to run -- made several trips to the West and the Arab nations and convinced them to support Mousavi. Moshfegh also claims that Mehdi Hashemi had said that they should send a message to President Obama asking him not to negotiate with Ahmadinejad before the election.
Moshfegh also accuses Mousavi of not giving the Army and the Revolutionary Guards everything they needed to continue the war with Iraq. The same accusation was leveled against Mousavi two weeks ago by Mohsen Rafighdoust, minister of the Guards in the Mousavi administration. Mousavi, responding that Rafighdoust had been imposed on him, threatened to reveal the truth about the war. That made the hardliners so worried that Ali Saeedi, Khamenei's representative to the Guards, said, "It is better if the black box of the war is not opened." We do know that Mousavi was opposed to prolonging the war after spring 1982, when Iranian forces expelled Iraqi occupation troops from Khuzestan province.
Moshfegh then says that after Mousavi announced his intention to run for president, the Reformists decided to support him, because they did not have any other candidate. In turn, according to Moshfegh, Mousavi told the Reformists, "My thinking is 90 percent similar to yours." The program that Mousavi and the Reformists supposedly agreed on was to remove control of the armed forces, Guardian Council, and Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (the national network of radio and TV stations) from Khamenei, and to separate religion from governance. The eventual goal was to eliminate the post of Supreme Leader.
This, according to Moshfegh, was also the thinking of the United States and its allies. The commander claims a campaign headquarters was even established in the United States for the Iranan election. Whereas President George W. Bush's Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, wanted to launch a military attack, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice preferred to initiate a "soft" war on Iran via the Reformists.
One of the most striking aspects of what Moshfegh says is the way it exposes how deeply he and his cohorts believe in conspiracy theories. Anything that goes wrong for them is the result of a conspiracy by the West. Another striking aspect is how righteous Moshfegh and his cohorts feel. He believes that he and the hardliners never make a mistake, never commit a crime. Are we to believe that the West is somehow entirely responsible for the terrible state of affairs in Iran?
Concerning Mousavi, Khatami, and Karroubi, the Guard commander acknowledges the question begged by his slew of accusations: "You may ask, Why have these people not been arrested? Well, we took their case to the Supreme Leader. But he said that there is no need to prosecute them. He ordered us just to inform people about what has happened, and the people will reject the Reformists." Incredible. This unprecedented mercy is granted by a system that imposes lengthy jail sentences on participants in lawful, peaceful demonstrations against a stolen election and murders 110 of them.
Ultimately, the most important aspect of this speech is its confirmation of what the Mousavi and Karroubi campaigns have said all along -- namely, that the hardliners did not allow their monitors to do their work, which enabled the regime to commit massive, historic vote fraud and declare Ahmadinejad, once again, the democratically elected president of Iran.
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