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Sunday, June 21, 2009

On the Basij

Jon Lee Anderson writes:

In the mass demonstrations that have taken place this week, the modus operandi of the Basijis has been brutal and predatory. They have used the same tactics as packs of African wild dogs worrying a herd of wildebeest. They choose their targets at the edges of the crowds, going for the vulnerable and unwary stragglers, and moving in as a group to reduce them with violence. Last Monday, the men who fired guns at demonstrators from the rooftops of buildings were almost certainly Basijis. They killed seven demonstrators at their leisure, and it also seems likely that they hoped this display of lethal intent would so intimidate the protesters that they would give up and go home. Clearly, that did not work, and it is probable that they were ordered to tone down such public displays of violence, at least for the time being. But they have continued to attack surreptitiously and in terrifying ways, jumping demonstrators as they return home on darkened streets at night. On Wednesday, there were reports that men who appeared to be Basijis had come onto theTehran University campus and had stabbed students with knives.

[This excellent article explains a great deal about the "culture" of the Basij; I recommend following the link and reading it entire. --TRH]

link: Jon Lee Anderson: Understanding The Basij: News Desk: Online Only: The New Yorker


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