This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/723
Mahmoud Ahmadinejab identified by American as the captor who threatened to kidnap his son and cut off his toes and fingers
June 30, 2005
"...Much is made of Ahmadinejad's background in the basij and pasdaran security forces (meaning he comes from a humble background), and allegations have been well circulated (at least in the Farsi language press) that he used to deliver the finishing shot at the execution of political prisoners..,," http://www.payvand.com/news/05/jun/1215.html
"...In the early 1980s, Ahmadinejad worked in the "Internal Security" department of the IRGC and earned notoriety as a ruthless interrogator and torturer. According to the state-run website Baztab, allies of outgoing President Mohammad Khatami have revealed that Ahmadinejad worked for some time as an executioner in the notorious Evin Prison, where thousands of political prisoners were executed in the bloody purges of the 1980s..."
"... I think his election bodes ill. He is a hard-line terrorist... "
Ex US embassy hostage retired Army ColonelChuck Scott on the new Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the mayor of Tehran won the presidency with 61.8 per cent of the vote.
|AP Blindfolded and with his hands bound, an American hostage is led by young militants to a mob in front of the US Embassy in Tehran, Iran in November 1979.|
Associated Presse Updated: Thu. Jun. 30 2005 10:04 AM ET
SAVANNAH, Ga. — An American held hostage in Iran for 444 days says "there's no question about it" — the country's new president was one of his captors a quarter-century ago. But others are not so sure.
Watching coverage of Iran's presidential election on television dredged up 25-year-old memories that prompted four of the former hostages to exchange e-mails.
And those four realized they shared the same conclusion — the firm belief that President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been one of their Iranian captors. Associates of Ahmadinejad deny any such link.
"This is the guy. There's no question about it," said former hostage Chuck Scott, a retired Army colonel who lives in Jonesboro, Ga. "You could make him a blond and shave his whiskers, put him in a zoot suit and I'd still spot him."
Scott and former hostages David Roeder, William J. Daugherty and Don A. Sharer told The Associated Press on Wednesday they have no doubt Ahmadinejad, 49, was one of the hostage-takers. A fifth ex-hostage, Kevin Hermening, said he reached the same conclusion after looking at photos.
Not everyone agrees. Former hostage and retired Air Force Col. Thomas E. Schaefer, of Peoria, Ariz., said he doesn't recognize Ahmadinejad, by face or name, as one of his captors.
Several former students among the hostage-takers also said Ahmadinejad did not participate. And a close aide to Ahmadinejad denied the president-elect took part in the seizure of the embassy or in holding Americans hostage.
Militant students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on Nov. 4, 1979, and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days to protest Washington's refusal to hand over the U.S.-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi for trial. The shah fled Iran earlier that year after he was overthrown by the Islamic Revolution.
Ahmadinejad was a member of the Office of Strengthening Unity, the student organization that planned the embassy takeover, but he was opposed to taking the U.S. Embassy, several of his associates said.
The aide, Meisan Rowhani, told the AP from Tehran that Ahmadinejad was asked during recent private meetings if he had a role in the hostage taking. Rowhani said he replied, "No. I believed that if we do that the world will swallow us."
Mohammad Ali Sayed Nejad, a longtime friend of the president-elect, said that in 1979, "Ahmadinejad had focused his fight against communism and Marxism and he was one of the opponents of seizing the U.S. Embassy. He was a constant opponent."
Some former hostages couldn't be sure about their captors. Former Marine embassy guard Paul Lewis of Sidney, Ill., said he thought Ahmadinejad looked vaguely familiar when he saw a picture of him on the news last week, but "my memories were more of the gun barrel, not the people behind it."
Ex-hostage Alan Golacinski also said he couldn't be certain.
"I can't identify this individual as one of my interrogators because I was blindfolded during all of my interrogations," said Golacinski, who was an embassy security officer. However, Golacinski said, "He did look somewhat familiar."
Scott and Roeder both said they were sure Ahmadinejad was present while they were interrogated.
"I can absolutely guarantee you he was not only one of the hostage-takers, he was present at my personal interrogation," Roeder said in an interview from his home in Pinehurst, N.C.
Daugherty, who worked for the CIA in Iran and now lives in Savannah, said a man he's convinced was Ahmadinejad was among a group of ringleaders escorting a Vatican representative during a visit in the early days of the hostage crisis.
"It's impossible to forget a guy like that," Daugherty said. "Clearly the way he acted, the fact he gave orders, that he was older, most certainly he was one of the ringleaders."
Ahmadinejad, the hard-line mayor of Tehran, was declared winner Wednesday of Iran's presidential runoff election, defeating one of Iran's best-known statesmen, Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani. The stunning upset put conservatives firmly in control of all branches of power in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In a first-person account on the British Broadcasting Corp. Web site, world affairs editor John Simpson said he, too, recognized Ahmadinejad, saying there was something "faintly familiar" about him. "I realised where I must have seen him: in the former American embassy in Tehran," Simpson wrote.
Scott, Roeder, Daugherty and Sharer said they have been exchanging e-mails since seeing Ahmadinejad emerge as a serious contender in Iran's elections.
"He was extremely cruel," said Sharer, of Bedford, Ind. "He's one of the hard-liners. So that tells you where their government's going to stand for the next four to five years."
After seeing recent newspaper photos, Sharer said, "I don't have any doubts" that Ahmadinejad was a hostage-taker.
A memory expert cautioned that people who discuss their recollections can influence one another in reinforcing false memories. Also, it's harder to identify from memory someone of a different race or ethnicity, said psychologist Elizabeth Loftus of the University of California, Irvine.
"Twenty-five years is an awfully long time," Loftus said. "Of course we can't say this is false, but these things can lead people down the path of having a false memory."
Scott gave a detailed account of the man he recalled as Ahmadinejad, saying he appeared to be a security chief among the hostage-takers.
"He kind of stayed in the background most of the time," Scott said. "But he was in on some of the interrogations. And he was in on my interrogation at the time they were working me over."
Scott also recalled an incident while he was held in the Evin prison in north Tehran in the summer of 1980.
One of the guards, whom Scott called Akbar, would sometimes let Scott and Sharer out to walk the narrow, 20-foot hallway outside their cells, he said. One day, Scott said, the man he believes was Ahmadinejad saw them walking and chastised the guard.
"He was the security chief, supposedly," Scott said. "When he found out Akbar had let us out of our cells at all, he chewed out Akbar. I speak Farsi. He said, `These guys are dogs, they're pigs, they're animals. They don't deserve to be let out of their cells.'"
Scott recalled responding to the man's stare by openly cursing his captor in Farsi. "He looked a little flustered like he didn't know what to do. He just walked out."
Roeder said he's sure Ahmadinejad was present during one of his interrogations when the hostage-takers threatened to kidnap his son in the United States and "start sending pieces — toes and fingers of my son — to my wife."
Hermening, of Mosinee, Wis., the youngest of the hostages, said that after he looked at photos and did research on the Internet, he came to the conclusion that Ahmadinejad was one of his questioners.
Hermening had been Marine guard at the embassy, and he recalled the man he believes was Ahmadinejad asking him for the combination to a safe.
"His English would have been fairly strong. I couldn't say that about all the guards," Hermening said. "I remember that he was certainly direct, threatening, very unfriendly."
Rowhani, the aide to Ahmadinejad, said Ahmadinejad said during the recent meeting that he stopped opposing the embassy seizure after the revolution's leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, expressed support for it. But the president-elect said he never took part.
"Definitely he was not among the students who took part in the seizure," said Abbas Abdi, the leader of the hostage-takers. Abdi has since become a leading supporter of reform and sharply opposed Ahmadinejad. "He was not part of us. He played no role in the seizure, let alone being responsible for security" for the students.
Another of the hostage-takers, Bijan Adibi, said Ahmadinejad "was not involved. There was no one by that name among the students who took part in the U.S. Embassy seizure."
MIM: Deja vu all over again Iranian president was former terroristMilitant Iranian students with a blindfolded American hostage in front of the American Embassy in Tehran, Iran.
Iranian President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
http://www.11alive.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=65532A Georgia man who was held hostage in Iran 26 years ago says that country's new president-elect, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was one of his captors.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
IRAN1979 EMBASSY SIEGE
Ex-hostages recognise Ahmadinejad as captor
Washington _ At least four Americans held hostage in the 1979 takeover of the US embassy in Teheran said yesterday they recognised Iran's president-elect as one of the ringleaders from the crisis, a claim denied in Teheran.
In interviews with US television networks, retired navy Captain Donald Sharer and Bill Daugherty said they were convinced Iran's ultra-conservative President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was one of their Iranian captors.
"He wasn't a very nice fellow at the time. He called us pigs and dogs. He's very hardline, he's a guy we are not going to get along with," said Mr Sharer in an interview with ABC's Good Morning America show.
Mr Daugherty said he also had "no doubts at all" that Mr Ahmadinejad was one of his hostage-takers.
"When your country is being humiliated and being embarrassed, the individuals that do that really stick in your mind. You don't forget people who do things like that to you and your family and your country," said Mr Daugherty.
Meanwhile, Iranian veterans of the 1979 seizure of hostages at the US embassy in Teheran vehemently denied yesterday claims that Mr Ahmadinejad played a role in the siege.
Their comments come after former US hostages who were held for 444 days by radical student followers of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini said they were sure Mr Ahmadinejad was a key player among hostage-takers.
"Mr Ahmadinejad was never one of students following the path of the imam that took the spy den [US embassy]. He was never there," said Mohsen Mirdamadi, a former hostage-taker who went on to become a member of parliament.
He said that a picture circulating on the Internet and the printed media portraying a thickly bearded hostage-taker leading out a blindfolded American hostage did not show Mr Ahmadinejad.
"Those who say he was one of the students are making a mistake. Even last night I was shown a picture but the person in the picture had little resemblance to him.
"I think that it is the picture which has led to the mistake. As I said he was never there. He was never among us even when we were deliberating over the issue," said Mr Mirdamadi.
Abbas Abdi, who like Mr Mirdamadi is regarded as one of the instigators of the embassy seizure, also fiercely denied that Mr Ahmadinejad had anything to do with the operation.
"I say again: No Sir, he was not one of them. What I say is very clear. If you ask me if I know somebody and I say `no', that is all I can say."
Hashem Aghajari, another veteran of the siege and leading political dissident, said: "Ahmadinejad was a member of the OCU but as far as I know he was not involved in the US embassy [takeover]."
The Office for Consolidating Unity (OCU) is an umbrella grouping of student Islamic committees.
The BBC's World Affairs editor John Simpson had added to the speculation when he wrote on the BBC's website earlier this week that he instantly recognised the new president from his role in the siege.
"When I read a profile of him in the English-language Teheran Times, I realised where I must have seen him: in the former American embassy in Teheran," Mr Simpson said. However, Mr Ahmadinejad's website makes no mention of link to the embassy siege.
IRANIAN PRESIDENT ACCUSED OF INVOLVEMENT IN IRAN HOSTAGE CRISIS
Hostage Roeder: "Ahmadinejad Threatened to Kidnap My Son"
The newly elected president of Iran has been accused of being involved in the 1980 American hostage crisis. Former hostage David Roeder, 66, told SPIEGEL ONLINE, that Ahmadinejad threatened to kidnap his son and cut off his fingers and toes. "You don't forget someone like that," the former Assistant Air Force Attache says.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: You are claiming that the newly elected president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was one of those involved in taking and holding you hostage in Iran from November 1979 to January 1981. How can you be sure?
Roeder: He was present at at least a third of my personal interrogations, which took place nightly for a little over a month early on in the hostage-taking situation. He seemed to be calling the shots, but from the background. The interrogators would ask a question and it would then be translated from Farsi into English by a woman interpreter.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Did they try to exert force on you to answer the questions or did you cooperate freely?
Roeder: I decided that initially I wasn't going to respond in any way, shape or form. They had me handcuffed to a chair and at least during the first few sessions, blindfolded as well. But once the blindfold came off, they had developed a plan that Ahmadinejad was instigating. Because I was not cooperating, they threatened that they were going to kidnap my handicapped son and send various pieces of him -- fingers and toes is what they mentioned -- to my wife if I didn't start cooperating. You don't forget somebody who is involved in something like that.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Was the man you believe to have been Ahmadinejad actually involved in asking you the questions during your interrogation?
Roeder: No, he was not, and I want to make that clear. But he was working in the background. When I refused to the questions at all, he would whisper feverishly in Farsi -- which I did not understand -- to the interrogators and they would all sort of get up, all at once, and leave the room.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: How did you realize that your hostage-taker had been elected as president of Iran?
Roeder: I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to the elections because whoever runs there has to be approved by the theocracy and the mullahs. It didn't surprise anybody that the winner would be a hardliner approved by the theocracy. But when I saw him on television the other night, I knew immediately. It's his mannerisms more than anything else that stopped me cold. I have no doubt that it's the same guy.
|AP An anti-American demonstration in Tehran after Iranian students stormed the US Embassy in November 1979.|
SPIEGEL ONLINE: You don't think you could have forgotten him after all these years?
Roeder: No, absolutely not. Not when he was involved in threatening my son.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: What were your 444 days as a hostage in Iran like? Where were you held hostage?
Roeder: I had only been in Iran for eight days before being taken hostage. Initially we were held in the embassy. But after the failed rescue attempt, we were moved to sites all over the country. What some people failed to realize is that there were various factions at work in Iran. The students who took us hostage were one. Then there were those who thought the whole hostage taking was an embarrassment and wanted us released immediately and -- on the other side of that coin -- there were those who wanted to execute us right away. So the students were trying to move us around to keep us away from some of those other groups.
|REUTERS Iran's president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stands accused of interrogating hostages during the 1980 American hostage crisis.|
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Which group did Ahmadinejad belong to?
Roeder: He was definitely involved in the initial takeover and was part of the group that was actually holding us. The timeframe fits as well. These kids were around 20 at the time and the president is now 49. It's been 25 years or so since then. It fits.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Were you ever abused or tortured during your captivity?
Roeder: I still remember the interrogations very clearly. As soon as they took the blindfold off they started asking me if I wanted a cigarette, did I want fruit, did I want a cup of tea. Of course I was still handcuffed so I just shook my head no. Often they would just leave me alone in a room -- handcuffed to my chair -- for what seemed like hours. And it did get physical at times. They would bring in the largest Iranian I have ever seen wearing a ski mask. He was very threatening and got right in my face when I wouldn't write a confession that I was spy. They threatened to turn me over to the North Vietnamese because of my combat record in Vietnam. They called me a baby killer. They'd throw hot tea at me trying to burn me. I was hit with something from behind on the neck once -- but I still don't know what it was.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Was Ahmadinejad there during any of this abuse?
|AP The scorched wreckage of an American C-130 Cargo aircraft involved in the failed August 1980 attempt to rescue the hostages.|
Roeder: I don't remember but I do specifically remember him being there when they made the threat against my son. They not only knew that I lived in Alexandria, Virginia but they also knew the street address. They knew what time my son was picked up by the school bus, they knew the bus number, they knew what time he was delivered back home in the afternoon and they knew what school he went to. That will get your attention. When you're a hostage you just don't know if the government is keeping track of your family.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: What do you think about him being elected as Iran's president? Can you ever forgive him?
Roeder: I don't have anything against normal Iranians, but I will always hold a special place in my heart for my kidnappers for the hardships they brought to my life and for the difficulties they brought to my family. I think his election bodes ill. He is a hard-line terrorist.
Interview conducted by Charles Hawley
Last week's surprise was all forgotten by the much bigger shock on Friday, when Ahmadinejad defeated the former President and iconic figure in the ruling theocracy in a landslide victory that consolidated power in the hands of the ruling Islamic clerics.
With spotlights now trained on the small, bearded figure in a trademark dilapidated grey suit, Ahmadinejad's murky past is causing deep anxiety in
Born in the desert town of
After finishing high school, Ahmadinejad went to
Student activists in
In 1979, he became the representative of Elm-o Sanaat students in the Office for Strengthening of Unity Between Universities and Theological Seminaries, which later became known as the OSU. The OSU was set up by Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, who was at the time Khomeini's top confidant and a key figure in the clerical leadership. Beheshti wanted the OSU to organise Islamist students to counter the rapidly rising influence of the opposition Mojahedin-e Khalq (MeK) among university students.
The OSU played a central role in the seizure of the
According to other OSU officials, when the idea of storming the
During the crackdown on universities in 1980, which Khomeini called the "Islamic Cultural Revolution", Ahmadinejad and the OSU played a critical role in purging dissident lecturers and students many of whom were arrested and later executed. Universities remained closed for three years and Ahmadinejad joined the Revolutionary Guards.
In the early 1980s, Ahmadinejad worked in the "Internal Security" department of the IRGC and earned notoriety as a ruthless interrogator and torturer. According to the state-run website Baztab, allies of outgoing President Mohammad Khatami have revealed that Ahmadinejad worked for some time as an executioner in the notorious Evin Prison, where thousands of political prisoners were executed in the bloody purges of the 1980s.
In 1986, Ahmadinejad became a senior officer in the Special Brigade of the Revolutionary Guards and was stationed in Ramazan Garrison near Kermanshah in western
Ahmadinejad served for four years as the governor of the towns of Maku and Khoy in northwestern
In 1997, the newly-installed Khatami administration removed Ahmadinejad from his post and he returned to
Since becoming mayor of
Abadgaran bills itself as a group of young neo-Islamic fundamentalists who want to revive the ideals and policies of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini. It was one of several ultra-conservative groups that were setup on the orders of Ayatollah Khamenei in order to defeat outgoing President Mohammad Khatami's faction after the parliamentary elections in February 2000.
Ahmadinejad's record is typical of the men chosen by Khamenei's entourage to put a new face on the clerical elite's ultra-conservative identity. But beyond the shallow façade, few doubt that the Islamic Republic under its new President will move with greater speed and determination along the path of radical policies that include more human rights abuses, continuing sponsorship of terrorism, and the drive to obtain nuclear weapons.
This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/723