SOLYMONE BLOG

BASIJ MILITIA THE MOST FEARED MEN ON THE STREETS OF IRAN

Until last few weeks, not many people knew who did the killing of the pro-Mir-Hossein Moussavi street demonstrators.
However, some witnesses say the The pro-government so-called, Basij militia force has unleashed its violence in shadowy nighttime raids, attacking suspected opposition sympathizers with axes, daggers, sticks and other crude weapons.
At least once, the Basij militiamen opened fire on a crowd of strone-throwing protesters. State media said seven were killed.
  • The Basij was formed during the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the Basij became one of Iran's most zealous forces in the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, often leading charges through minefields.
  • The group, which is controlled by the elite Revolutionary Guard, also was unleashed on dissidents in the 1990s, when teenagers and young men in plainclothes beat protesting students with batons. It's an intimidation tactic opposition supporters say has been revived during this week's outpouring of anti-government protest.
  • The Basij has leaders based in mosques in every village and city throughout Iran, giving it the widest security network in the country, said Mehdi Khalaji, a senior fellow with The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a specialist in Iranian politics.
  • The Iranian government says there are 5 million members in total, but Khalaji told The Associated Press on Friday that active members number around 1 million.
  • In addition to their salaries, militia members — known as Basijis — get incentives such as easy entrance to universities and licenses and loans for businesses.
  • The most senior members are issued guns. But the majority use sticks, pepper spray and other crude weapons. "They carry guns, batons and they are driving motorcycles," Khalaji said. "With the motorcycles they go suddenly, they start to drive into the crowd with high speed. They beat people with electric batons."
  • Some Basijis shave their beards and wear jeans to blend in with opposition supporters, infiltrating a crowd and then attacking, he said.
  • Source:Fox News, AP
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