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Trained To Kill: Iranian Mullahs’ Militia Group

Trained To Kill: Iranian Mullahs’ Militia Group
By Majid Rafizadeh

Originally Published by the Gatestone Institute.

While the European Union is busy appeasing the ruling mullahs of Iran who are delivering weapons to Russia with which to kill Ukrainians, and while the United Nations is turning a blind eye to the massive crimes against humanity committed in Iran, neither the UN nor a single European country has yet to hold accountable the Iranian regime’s mercenary paramilitary group, the Basij. It consists of millions of members and they are killing protesters with full impunity.

The theocratic establishment has been rocked with continuing anti-regime protests for four months now, and the Iranian authorities appear to be resorting to every possible mode of repression to suppress the demonstrators. These violent methods include shooting at protesters, injuring and killing people, executing protesters, thousands of arrests, physical and mental torture, sexual violence, and the rape of minors.

The Basij, a leading force committing crimes against humanity, acts freely throughout Iran. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) granted the Basij extensive powers that allowed its members to act as religious and moral police, enforce the regime’s revolutionary laws, monitor people’s daily activities, suppress anti-regime protests, operate in foreign countries, organize religious events throughout Iran, and recruit and train child soldiers for the IRGC. Basij centers can be seen in almost every city, town, school and university campus across Iran. In return, the Basij has significantly empowered and emboldened the Iran’s Islamist regime. As the US Treasury Department pointed out:

“In addition to its involvement in violent crackdowns and serious human rights abuses in Iran, the Basij recruits and trains fighters… including Iranian children, who then deploy to Syria to support the brutal Assad regime.”

The Basij have played a critical role in attacking demonstrators and those who dare to criticize the Islamic Republic and its Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Many videos on social media show plainclothes agents shooting and beating up protesters.

That members of the Basij appear in plainclothes makes it extremely difficult for people to identify them before being attacked. Iran International news agency reported:

“According to Rouydad24 news website in Tehran, when people produce evidence that they were beaten or arrested by plainclothes individuals or even when videos of plainclothes officers arresting, beating or shooting at protesters emerge, the government always claims that they were ‘rogue elements.’

“As long as all law enforcement officers in Iran do not wear uniforms, the government can always get away with criminal acts committed by them. Since 1999, when plainclothes officers violently suppressed a student uprising in Tehran killing several students, some regime insiders have been trying to convince the security forces to issue uniforms to all law enforcers, to no avail. Security forces are under the command of Iran’s ruler Ali Khamenei who needs the plainclothes agents to save the regime from the people.”

The ruling mullahs claim that the Basij is a voluntary group, but its members are paid. In fact, the regime designates a large budget to the group every year. The Basij has become an important player in both the private and public sectors, and is reportedly one the largest investors in the Iran Stock Exchange. Those who join the group are given financial and non-monetary incentives, such as easier entry to universities, obtaining bank loans, grants and getting employment.

While Iran’s theocratic establishment denies that Basij are involved in the regime’s crackdown, a member of Basij surprisingly revealed to France 24 International in a rare interview that

“In our unit, we have shotguns, tear gas, batons, paintball guns and stun guns. We had a few hours of introduction and training on “non-combat” weapons like these…. I try not to hit protesters… The others in my unit aim at people to hit them, to hit them in the chest or head, to kill them. And if you kill someone, you won’t get in trouble. So hotheads or officers who do not care shoot at people’s heads. That can be deadly. We have some Kalashnikovs in our arsenal too, but we have not used them yet. Kalashnikovs are now being used by IRGC members and the police. As far as I know, the Basij arsenal is the same in all the big cities. As Basij, we have not yet been ordered to use Kalashnikovs, but our unit used them in 2019. We will use Kalashnikovs again when the orders come.”

Instead of preaching about human rights, the United Nations and the European Union urgently need to impose severe sanctions and cut the flow of funds to the regime and IRGC’s paramilitary and mercenary group to induce them to stop.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US Foreign Policy. He can be reached at [email protected]

Original Article

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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