Dissidents Holier than the Ayatollahs

DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s Iranian sources report that three groups of junior officers in Iran’s standing army were executed secretly in Teheran this week. The discovery and execution of subversives in the military are fairly routine occurrences in the Islamic Republic. In the past year, cells of officers hoping to spark a military coup against the regime have proliferated at the same rate as corruption takes root at all levels of the government. While the Ayatollahs’ regime is shaken, its security services uncover the cells almost as fast as they are formed and the “conspirators” are swiftly put to death. This year, 21 to 25 rebellious officers are thought to have been executed.

What really put the fear of Allah into Iran’s rulers was the discovery in the Revolutionary Guards, the Pazdaran, the government’s faithful bulwark and basis of its popular support, of underground dissidents who are fundamentalist Muslims and dissatisfied with the degree of piety in the regime. They aspire to overturn the present government in favor of a more rigorously religious one.

While corrupt practices have spread through many parts of the Pazdaran’s mid-level officers’ echelon too – platoon and squad commanders take part in protection rackets and collect kickbacks from smuggling scams – large sections of the force share the government’s religious ideals, except that they accuse the ruling caste of betraying those ideals and therefore seek its ouster.

To curtail the spreading revolt, numbers of Pazdaran men have been rounded up at the Guards’ special units’ bases in Tehran and Bandar Abbas in the last two weeks, some on suspicion of belonging to opposition cells, others for speaking out against the spread of corruption through their ranks.

While putting down dissidence with one hand, with the other, the Teheran government is preparing to intensify its undercover presence in Afghanistan and Iraq in order to stem the spread of American influence.

Several hundred Iraqi Shiites and a similar number of Afghan Shiites, long-time residents in Iran and fluent in Farsi, have been recruited for special urban and mountain warfare training. The Farsi-speaking Afghans are to be infiltrated into Iraq and the Iraqis into Afghanistan, posing as Islamic messengers from abroad, sent to guide the local populace in spreading the word of the Prophet. Their true mission will be to establish underground Iranian movements in Afghanistan and Iraq for subversive operations against the Americans.

According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly, US intelligence got wind of Tehran’s plan and delayed for three days the entry into Afghanistan of a high-level Iranian delegation invited by the strongman-governor of Herat, Ismail Khan. The delegation was made up of central government figures from Khorasan province in northeast Iran on the Afghan border. Khan invited the Iranians to discuss paving an Iranian-funded road that would link the Iranian border city of Taybad with his own city of Herat. The Americans, who are building a large military airbase on Herat’s outskirts, are leery of any project bringing Iranian engineers, technicians – and intelligence agents – to the vicinity of this sensitive facility.

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