In a television appearance shocking in its candidness, a leading Iranian ayatollah says that it would be far better for the Islamic Republic to simply murder those protesting against the regime, rather than arrest and beat them. Meanwhile, an unknown group claiming to represent Iranian soldiers threatens to take up arms against the regime.
In a live interview broadcast on the Islamic Republic’s national television station sometime within the last two weeks, Ayatollah Mehyaddin Haeri Shirazi described a Communist protest movement from the early years of the Islamic Republic, noting how it was effectively crushed by the authorities. The government targeted opposition activists, he said, "arrested them in the afternoon and the same night announced the names of 30 people killed or executed by the government forces."
In reaction to the arrests and killings, Shirazi continued, "nothing happened. Why? Because they killed them."
Expanding on what he sees as the lesson from those events, the ayatollah said,"The more of them [the opposition] are killed, the more beneficial [to the people]. If the armed forces kill some of them, it is to our benefit."
On the other hand, Shirazi continued, "When they are arrested, it is bad [for public opinion], when they are captured [it is bad for public opinion]. Do not make victims out of them."
Killing the opposition protesters, the ayatollah insists, "is sanctioned by obedience to Allah and the prophet and is handed down to the Supreme Leader [Ayatollah Khamenei]. When it is sanctioned by such a power, there is no need to go through the government powers."
Shirazi warned the opposition forces, "Do not look upon the Supreme Leader [simply] as a person with a soft turban on his head, and that you can beat him. His support comes from the Hidden Imam Mahdi, he [Khamenei] is made of iron. It will come back down to break your own heads."
In fact, Iranian security forces have taken the violence against Iranian pro-democracy protesters up a notch in recent weeks. Over a dozen people were openly shot or beaten to death in the latest clashes, with police arresting hundreds of Iranian citizens involved in the opposition movements.
Armed Resistance by Iranian Military Units?
Perhaps in reaction to the increasing levels of violence by government forces, on December 26 a previously unknown anti-regime group calling itself the National Iranian Armed Resistance Forces (NIRU) "declare our readiness to rise to the armed defense of our nation against the forces of the criminal, illegitimate, transgressing and occupying current Government of Iran…." The group "accuses the current government and the leader of the Islamic Revolution, Mr. Sayyed Ali Khamenei of legal transgressions and high treason of nation and homeland."
NIRU claims to be made up of "a number of officers, soldiers and personnel of the armed forces", calling for "support" and "cover… in this moral and nationalist act" from "our brothers and sisters serving with the armed security forces of Iran…."
Iranian pro-democracy activists in contact with Israel National News said they are hesitant to believe in the authenticity of the organization until there is some external evidence of its activities beyond email and Web postings.
The first of two NIRU communiques, headed with praise for the Islamic god Allah, explained: "In accordance with the regulations of the Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran, we are commissioned to protect the lives, properties and honor of our nation, and defend our sacred soil, as well as combat all occupying forces within the borders of the land. Any failure in carrying out this duty is considered a betrayal of nation and oath. According to the constitution, the defense of the rights of the nation of Iran, and avoidance of the collapse of the country takes precedence over protection of the ruling regime."
The group announced "the initiation of Operation Azadi (‘Freedom’)," which they said will end upon "unconditional surrender of the occupying government and leadership." The operation, the NIRU communique said, will involve taking control of military bases, taking over government buildings, arrest of "government-supporting agents within your units", "seizing… military and public communication facilities, as well as other news media", "combat mission[s] at the regional level, and expanding", and more.
The announcement emphasizes the group’s desire to avoid the use of firearms as much as possible, even against the regime’s forces, as well as to prevent any harm to civilians as a result of armed confrontations.