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Friday, June 19, 2009

The Basij

From The Associated Press:

"The Basij began as cannon fodder for the Revolutionary Guard during the war with Iraq. Now, they are there to do the dirty work for them: breaking up parties, hassling women about their hijab (head covering) and much more violent acts," said Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-born independent analyst living in Israel.

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.

So far, the Basij has refrained from widespread attacks on demonstrators. But witnesses say the militiamen took part in a police raid on Tehran University dormitories on Sunday night after students hurled stones, bricks and firebombs at police — one of the few violent episodes during this week's rallies.

Basij members used axes, sticks and daggers to ransack student rooms and smash computers and furniture, wounding many students, according to witnesses.

A day later, students attacked a compound used by the Basij and tried to set it on fire. Gunmen on the roof fired on the crowd and killed seven people, according to state media.

link: The Associated Press: Feared Basij militia could transform Iran showdown


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