• 8 January 2010
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • Events in DC, Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran

Assassination attempt against Karroubi fails

There was an attempted assassination attempt against Mehdi Karroubi several hours ago, when the cleric and leading opposition figure arrived in Qazvin for a mourning ceremony of opposition supporters killed in protests.

One of Karroubi’s family members gave this first-hand account to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran:

“Members of the Basij and Revolutionary Guards gathered at their garrisons prior to Mr. Karroubi’s arrival. As soon as he entered Qazvin, they appeared. Their actions were fully coordinated with Fars News Agency. As soon as Mr. Karroubi entered the private home where he was staying, Fars News reported it. The coordination between the Revolutionary Guards and Fars News was extensive.

When the Basij and Revolutionary Guards members assembled to protest Karroubi’s presence in Qazvin, two bullets were fired at his car. Fortunately the car was bullet proof. The front windshield was much stronger and only cracked. Otherwise the bullets would have entered the car and caused serious injuries.

I believe the message to Mr. Karroubi is that he is not safe anywhere he goes and if he doesn’t restrict himself to his house, he will be targeted.”

Fars News is closely affiliated with the IRGC.

Posted By David Elliott

David Elliott is the Assistant Policy Director at the National Iranian American Council.

    6 Responses to “Assassination attempt against Karroubi fails”

  1. Pirouz says:

    Interesting that Karroubi has (presumably a state afforded) armored sedan. The fact that bullets failed to penetrate the windshield suggests the assailants used handgun ammunition against the sedan’s bullet-resistant glass.

    If the assailants were IRGC or Basij, and this was a serious assassination attempt, it’s likely they’d have used assault rifles with telescopic sights, or even a PKM or MG3 general machine gun. And it’s likely they’d have successfully made the hit. If the story is true, it’s probable that this was more an act of intimidation (including the two-day nonstop demonstration outside the house), rather than a serious assassination attempt.

    Curious that Karroubi’s family member states that FARS News was in on this somehow, but there is no coverage of the incident. Other than that, in what capacity would FARS be involved? Besides, the IRGC has closer ties with press agencies other than FARS.

    A different report mentions unsuccessful police (NAJA?) attempts at dispersing the demonstrators.

    As usual, these opposition stories bring up more questions than they answer.

  2. Publicola says:

    Is the Islamic Iranian republic (still) a “mullah regime”? – An attempt at a hypothetical anwer.

    If this expression/term has always been afflicted with the defect or flaw of lumping together the entire Shiite clergy as though it was fostering identical views,
    this surmise has become hollow with the assumption of office by Ahmadinedschad in 2005 and the commencing militarization of Iranian society and its institutions.

    Thus a long-lasting process of a power-shift of elites is taking place, in which the political-economic leadership and control of Iran is being transferred from the hands of clerics at an advanced age into the hands of elite soldiers in their midfifties.

    The first ones were politicized in theological seminars and in the prisons of the Shah, the second group in technical-economic courses of studies and on the mine fields of the Iraq-Iran war, when they – united in solidary faith in the Iranian revolution – defended this revolution against internal and outside enemies.

    in the meantime weekly or even daily statements of high-ranking members of the Revolutionary Guard Corps are published, as if their statements were made by Meta- or Super- ministers.

    The political-economic leadership and control in Teheran has been shifted from the hands of the clerics to the hands of the generation of the elite soldiers from the Iran-Iraq war.

  3. Publicola says:

    ” … The attack occurred in Qazvin, where Mr. Karroubi had traveled to attend a mourning ceremony for eight protesters killed during a demonstration on Dec. 28, his Web site reported. The news agency Fars, which is linked to the Revolutionary Guards, reported Mr. Karroubi’s whereabouts shortly after his arrival. [http://www.farsnews.net/newstext.php?nn=8810170811 ]… ”

    From a report published by The New York Times / International Herald Tribune
    January 8, 2010

  4. Someone says:

    “If the assailants were IRGC or Basij, and this was a serious assassination attempt, it’s likely they’d have used assault rifles with telescopic sights, or even a PKM or MG3 general machine gun. And it’s likely they’d have successfully made the hit. If the story is true, it’s probable that this was more an act of intimidation (including the two-day nonstop demonstration outside the house), rather than a serious assassination attempt.”

    Pirouz, you seem to possess a wealth of knowledge on military organizations and the equipment they use in Iran, which is the part of your contributions I find most useful.

    I think you’re probably right in saying that this incident was more a form of intimidation than a serious assassination attempt. I don’t doubt that the security apparatus in Iran knows how to pull of a successful assassination.

    What I’d like to ask you about is a comment you made on this board when Karroubi was attacked by plain-clothed government thugs in October.

    “A main opposition political figure being allowed the use of personal armed bodyguards sort of contradicts the narrative of a so-called dictatorship. Anyway, I’ve never heard of such a thing being permitted in a truly authoritarian state.”


    So, here we are three months later with scores of opposition protesters in prison, the number of those killed in protest still rising, many opposition leaders still in prison, one opposition leader’s nephew assassinated for the purpose of intimidation and now a “mock” assassination attempt with live rounds on another opposition leader.

    Yes, Iran’s ruling system is complex and convoluted and cannot be reduced to a single-word description. But I’d like to ask you—even though Karroubi still has his guards—do you have more or less trouble now, three months later, reconciling the events in Iran with “the narrative of a so-called dictatorship”?

    And, if your knowledge of political systems is as strong as your knowledge of military gear, maybe you could answer the following question: what kind of government uses its military to intimidate opposition figures with live rounds?

  5. No Fear says:

    The assassination on Karoubi was staged by himself or a foreign entity, but not the IRGC.

    IRGC does not need to spray bullets over karoubi’s car to be intimidating. Who do you think they are? your local street gang? Why would they want to creat a more volatile situation during tense political atmospher? Why fuel the controversy? They can tell karoubi in person that their intelligence has found out about a foreign ploy to assassinate him. This way its a lot more subtle than making it headline news. Karoubi will get the messege loud and clear. If Karoubi goes public with it, so be it. Its a foreign ploy.

  6. Publicola says:

    Ad “No Fear” – »The assassination on Karoubi was staged by himself or a foreign entity, but not the IRGC … Who do you think they are? your local street gang?«

    This hypothesis needs some delving into questions of the past and present deployment and of past and present known activities of the allied auxiliaries of the IRGC, the volunteer militias called ‘Basijis’.

    Here in the following just some quotes to clarify things
    – see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basij

    • In 2009 the New York Times describes them as “ranging in age from high school to about 30 years old.”
    • They have a record of involvement in many cases of human rights abuses.
    • The tactics used by the Basij against election demonstrators have been described as involving choosing “targets at the edges of the crowds, going for the vulnerable and unwary stragglers,” attacking “surreptitiously … jumping demonstrators as they return home on darkened streets at night,” and also wielding “tiny knives or razor blades to use against protestors from behind their backs.”
    • Human Rights Watch has reported that the Basij belong to the “Parallel institutions” (nahad-e movazi), “the quasi-official organs of repression that have become increasingly open in crushing student protests, detaining activists, writers, and journalists in secret prisons, and threatening pro-democracy speakers and audiences at public events.” Under the control of the Office of the Supreme Leader these groups set up arbitrary checkpoints around Tehran, uniformed police often refraining from directly confronting these plainclothes agents. “Illegal prisons, which are outside of the oversight of the National Prisons Office, are sites where political prisoners are abused, intimidated, and tortured with impunity.”
    • On 13 November 2006, Tohid Ghaffarzadeh, a student at Sabzevar University was reportedly killed by a Basij member at the University while Ghaffarzadeh was talking to his girlfriend. The killer reportedly approached Ghaffarzadeh and stabbed him with a knife explaining that what he did was according to his religious beliefs.
    • On 15 June 2009, reports linked the Basij militia to murder of civilians in Azadi Square, Tehran, during the 2009 Iranian election protests. News agencies reported 7 dead and over 50 wounded.
    • On 27 June 2009, Human Rights Watch said the Basij were raiding homes at night, destroying property, beating people, and confiscating satellite dishes. They said the raids were to stop anti-government chanting and to prevent people from watching foreign news broadcasts.
    • During this same period, several Basij members have been filmed breaking into houses and shooting into crowds.
    • During the 2009 election protests, the IRG and the Basij also attacked Universities and students’ dorms at night, and destroyed property. They were also accused of raping male and female protestors whom they arrested after beating.

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Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

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