RFE/RL Iran Report Vol. 8 – 05/03/2005

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RFE/RL Iran Report
Vol. 8, No. 18, 3 May 2005

A Review of Developments in Iran Prepared by the Regional Specialists
of RFE/RL’s Newsline Team


replaced its annual “Patterns of Global Terrorism” report with one
called “Country Reports on Terrorism 2004.” As it has in previous
reports, however, Iran earned top billing as “the most active state
sponsor of terrorism in 2004”
(). Cuba, Libya, North Korea,
Sudan, and Syria also are listed as state sponsors of terrorism.
The State Department publication, released on 27 April,
asserts that the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps and the Ministry of
Intelligence and Security are involved with planning and supporting
the commission of terrorist acts. It notes the Iranian role in
anti-Israeli activity, referring to Iranian support for Hamas,
Hizballah, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the
Liberation of Palestine–General Command (PFLP-GC), and the Al-Aqsa
Martyrs Brigades.
The report says that Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan militants
are in Iran, and notes the intermittent provision of Iranian aid to
the Kongra-Gel (aka Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK).
The report also says that Iran refuses to identify senior
Al-Qaeda personnel it claims to have detained, will not provide
information on purported trials of those claimed detainees, and will
not extradite them. Alleged Iranian interference in Iraqi affairs is
noted as well.
The same day that the report was released, State Department
counselor Philip Zelikow said: “Iran and Syria are of special concern
for their direct, open, and prominent role in supporting [Hizballah]
and Palestinian terrorist groups, for their unhelpful actions in Iraq
and in Iran’s case, the unwillingness to bring to justice senior
Al-Qaeda members detained in 2003, including — I will add personally
— senior Al-Qaeda members who were involved in the planning of the
[11 September 2001] attacks.”
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi on 28
April rejected the State Department’s report, state radio
reported. As has been the case with past State Department reports,
Assefi responded with denials followed by counteraccusations. He
attributed the report to “America’s disappointment at the failure
of its illegitimate policies in the Middle East.” Assefi said Iran
fights terrorism and has been in “the forefront of the war against
In what is presumably a reference to Israel, Assefi said, “We
must remember that, as the supporter of the most notorious terrorist
regime, America is not in a position to speak about the war on
terror.” Assefi added that the U.S. itself has a “dismal human rights
record.” (Bill Samii)

Khalq Organization (MKO or MEK), a group that is opposed to the
Iranian regime, is identified in the State Department’s “Country
Reports on Terrorism 2004” as a foreign terrorist organization. “The
group’s worldwide campaign against the Iranian government
stresses propaganda and occasionally uses terrorism,” according to
the report.
Also known as the National Liberation Army of Iran,
People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran, National Council of
Resistance, National Council of Resistance of Iran, and Muslim
Iranian Students’ Society, the MKO killed Americans working in
Iran during the 1970s and supported the 1979 seizure of the U.S.
Embassy, according to the report. Since leaving Iran in the early
1980s, the MKO has conducted many attacks against regime officials
and assets.
More than 3,000 MKO members are interned at Camp Ashraf in
Iraq, although some have returned to Iran. According to the State
Department report, the individuals at Camp Ashraf “remain under the
Geneva Convention’s ‘protected person’ status and
coalition control.” The report also notes: “A significant number of
MEK personnel have ‘defected’ from the Ashraf group, and
several dozen of them have been voluntarily repatriated to Iran.”
According to the State Department report, the MKO received
most of its financial assistance and all of its military aid from
former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s regime, and “has used
front organizations to solicit contributions from expatriate Iranian
communities.” (Bill Samii)

resumed on 29 April in London, and it appears that Tehran believes it
has given enough ground in the talks. “We are showing enough patience
by attending these long meetings with little results to convince [the
world] that Iran is not pursuing atomic weapons,” Expediency Council
Chairman Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani said in his 29 April
Tehran Friday prayers sermon, Radio Farda reported. He added, “Iran
wants to have [uranium] enrichment and all branches of nuclear
technology, because Iran wants to be able to use the benefits of this
very valuable field of science for its people and we will do it by
any price.”
Hashemi-Rafsanjani’s comments reflect official policy.
Supreme National Security Council spokesman Ali Aqamohammadi told
state radio on 28 April that the negotiations will continue only if
the Iranian side believes there is progress.
Unidentified European diplomats in Vienna said on 27 April
that Iran is increasing pressure on France, Germany, and the United
Kingdom in preparation for its membership in the nuclear club,
Reuters reported. One diplomat said to expect angry comments from the
Iranians, because they will not get a definitive response from the
Europeans. European efforts to play for time will displease Tehran,
one diplomat said.
At The Hague, meanwhile, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi
stressed what he perceives as Iran’s right to use nuclear energy
for peaceful purposes, during an address at the Dutch Society for
International Affairs, state television reported. Kharrazi said Iran
is committed to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and called on
the International Atomic Energy Agency to monitor Israeli nuclear
activities. Kharrazi complained that countries with nuclear weapons
are discriminating against those that want to use nuclear energy
peacefully. Kharrazi said Iran’s suspension of uranium enrichment
is temporary.
One of Iran’s top nuclear negotiators, Cyrus Nasseri,
said on 26 April that discussions with Europe will only continue if
the Europeans accept Iran’s right to possess nuclear technology,
state radio reported. Nasseri said that the global need for nuclear
fuel will increase in the next decade, so Iran must be able to export
it. Turning to the negotiation process and Washington’s stance,
Nasseri said, “We are the ones who will set deadlines and make
decisions. And the Westerners have come to the conclusion that they
must come to terms with Iran.”
Asked on 24 April about the Iran-EU nuclear negotiations,
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi repeated his
country’s position that it will enrich uranium, Islamic Republic
of Iran News Network reported. “We will put enrichment on our agenda
after a while,” Assefi said. “We will resume it at the end of the
talks, regardless of whether the talks fail or succeed. Therefore, we
should not be concerned about enrichment. I believe that Europe and
the international community will lose more than Iran if the talks
fail.” Assefi said the suspension will continue until the talks end.
(Bill Samii)

spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi on 24 April rejected a report in the
weekly “Der Spiegel” about Iran’s importation of equipment for
its missile program, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA)
The 25 April issue of “Der Spiegel” reports that a Liebherr
LTM 1100-5.1 crane was purchased for 600,000 euros ($784,000) by an
Iranian firm named Mizan. German authorities suspect the crane is for
use in Iran’s missile program. The ship carrying the crane to
Iran reportedly left Hamburg on 7 April, and was later seen in Port
Said, Egypt. It was only after the ship left Hamburg that the
authorities realized that Mizan is blacklisted as a front for the
Iranian arms industry. The Germans are reportedly working to retrieve
the crane before it gets to Iran.
The ship is chartered out by a Norwegian firm, Leif Hoegh and
Company, Reuters reported on 28 April. A company spokesman said
nobody has instructed them to take action, so the firm has not
intervened. The spokesman said the ship docked in Oman on 28 April
and was scheduled to arrive in Bandar Abbas on 29 April. (Bill Samii)

Karimi-Rad said on 13 April that the head of the state tobacco
company, Hamid Rahmani-Khalili, and his deputy have been arrested for
corruption, state radio reported. Karimi-Rad said they are under
investigation over financial irregularities.
Six days later, and after pressure from unspecified sources
to release the tobacco company officials, the legislature took an
interest in the issue. An unnamed parliamentarian said the tobacco
company’s managing director spent 3 billion rials (about
$375,000) on redecorating his office, bought a desk for 350 million
rials (about $43,750), and hired dozens of his fellow townsmen,
“Resalat” and “Jomhuri-yi Islami” reported on 20 April. The
parliamentarians are considering several measures, including an
investigation of the company’s performance over the last five
years, questioning judiciary officials, and forbidding the executive
branch from interfering in the case.
The public reports on the case only tell part of the story,
however. Mohsen Bahrami, spokesman for the central antismuggling
headquarters, said his organization is also involved with the
investigation, even though the tobacco company case has nothing to do
with smuggling, “Hemayat” reported on 20 April. According to Bahrami,
this is to prevent a repetition of the problems. He added that the
tobacco company case involves the regulation of official trade in
tobacco products, as well as the production and packaging of
But it appears that the legislature’s interest in this
case was not enough. Judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmud
Hashemi-Shahrudi ordered that the tobacco company’s managing
director should be released, without bail, on 27 April, according to
the BBC.
The legislature, meanwhile, appears to have an anti-tobacco
bias. It is considering legislation by which Iran would accede to a
World Health Organization framework for tobacco control, “Resalat”
and “Jomhuri-yi Islami” reported on 20 April. The legislation also
calls for the Health Ministry to revise its strategy on tobacco
control and to promote educational and other programs to reduce
tobacco use.
Nureddin Pirmoazen, who represents Ardabil Province and
serves on the parliamentary Health Committee, complained during the
22 February session that the government has not submitted a bill to
control tobacco use, “Resalat” reported on 23 February. Pirmoazen
said there are 12 million smokers in Iran, which has a population of
around 69 million.
An unnamed representative complained on 27 October 2004 that
tobacco-company officials tried to give “several boxes” of cigarettes
to each visiting parliamentarian during a recent visit, “Resalat”
reported on 28 October. “This action surprised some of the
representatives as to how a governmental organization could promote a
harmful item and attempt to advertise it in such a manner,” the
lawmaker said. (Bill Samii)

opinion survey, some 42 to 51 percent of the Iranian public plans to
vote in the 17 June presidential election, Interior Ministry
spokesman Jahanbakhsh Khanjani said on 24 April, IRNA reported.
Khanjani noted that until now participation in presidential elections
has surpassed that in others — an average of 64 percent in eight
presidential elections, 61 percent in six parliamentary elections, 59
percent in three Assembly of Experts elections, and 57 percent in
municipal-council elections. (Bill Samii)

Council Chairman Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani said at a
meeting of agriculture, animal husbandry, and biotechnology
specialists in Tehran on 25 April that he may soon take the “bitter
medicine” of becoming a candidate in the 17 June presidential
election, Radio Farda reported. Hashemi-Rafsanjani served as
president for two terms, from 1989 to 1997. In recent months, he has
consistently denied having an interest in serving as president again,
saying that he prefers to see new faces at the country’s helm. He
said the problem lies with weak political parties that do not do a
good job of promoting candidates.
Hashemi-Rafsanjani’s reluctance to make a clear
announcement about his intentions, to date, may be connected with his
poor showing in the February 2000 parliamentary race. Radio Farda
pointed out that he withdrew from the parliamentary race when it
appeared that he would not be among the top 30 finishers in Tehran.
The results of a recent poll conducted by the state
broadcasting agency may help to reassure Hashemi-Rafsanjani. The
survey of 13,912 people in 30 cities on 5 April found that
Hashemi-Rafsanjani garnered the highest percentage of votes (16
percent) in response to the question, “Who would be the most suitable
president?” Osoolgara.com went on to report on 23 April that Ali
Larijani earned 5 percent; while Mustafa Moin, Mohammad Baqer
Qalibaf, Ali Akbar Velayati, and Mehdi Karrubi all earned around 4
percent. Earning less than 3 percent were Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel,
Ahmad Tavakoli, Hassan Rohani, Mohsen Rezai, and Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad.
Tehran University’s professor Sadegh Zibakalam told
RFE/RL that there may be other reasons behind Rafsanjani’s
reluctance. “He would definitely prefer another political figure, or
another person to come and [solve the current problems]. But as we
move forward, we see that the conservative candidates do not have the
power and ability [to win] and if the reformist candidates gain
votes, they will not be able to solve the problems, either. Their
power will not be in any case more than Mr. Khatami’s power —
[and] he could not in the last eight years achieve many of his goals.
And similarly, [reformist candidates] Mr. Moin and Mr. Karrubi will
not be able to do more than Khatami.”
Serving as president and Expediency Council chairman
simultaneously could make Hashemi-Rafsanjani the country’s most
powerful official. Radio Farda reported that Supreme Leader Ayatollah
Ali Khamenei would only approve of another Hashemi-Rafsanjani
presidency if neither of his preferred candidates — Ali Larijani or
Ali Akbar Velayati — has a chance.
The growing possibility of a Hashemi-Rafsanjani’s
candidacy has set Iranian tongues wagging. The conservative speaker
of parliament, Gholam Ali Haddad-Adel, said on 27 April that the
fundamentalists (osulgarayan) do not oppose the possibility that
Hashemi-Rafsanjani will be a candidate, IRNA reported. The mainstream
conservative organization, the Coordination Council of the Islamic
Revolution Forces, has put its weight behind Ali Larijani.
Hojatoleslam Rasul Montajabnia, who is a leading member of
the country’s cleric-dominated reformist party, the Militant
Clerics Association (Majma-yi Ruhaniyun-i Mobarez), said on 26 April
that a Hashemi-Rafsanjani candidacy would encourage increased voter
turnout, Mehr News Agency reported. He also noted that this would
lead to a runoff, in which Hashemi-Rafsanjani and the reformist
candidate compete. Montajabnia is involved with outreach for
candidate Hojatoleslam Mehdi Karrubi.
Zibakalam told RFE/RL that many Iranians see
Hashemi-Rafsanjani as the only leader who could provide some
political balance inside the country and improve ties with the West.
“When you compare other candidates with Mr. Hashemi-Rafsanjani, you
see regarding executive matters, political authority and
international status that his position is not comparable.
International power knows that if they reach an agreement with
Rafsanjani, it is unlikely that he would not be able to carry it out.
We don’t have this in regard to any of the other candidates.”
But not everybody shares Zibakalam’s enthusiasm. “If he
became president, he would be a weak president because the opinion
polls show that he would gain only about 22 percent of the vote,”
former parliamentarian Qasem Sholeh-Saadi told RFE/RL. “Therefore, he
will not have strong popular support and he will not be able to
cooperate with the current parliament, which is dominated by
ultraconservatives who do not support him.” (Bill Samii)

Chairman Hashemi-Rafsanjani reiterated on 28 April that he will be a
candidate in the mid-June presidential election if a better candidate
does not throw his hat in the ring, IRNA reported. “If I see the
thing I had expected is not going to happen, I will put myself
forward as a candidate for the presidential election,” he said.
Tehran Mayor Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad said on 28 April he will
announce his decision on being a candidate in 10-15 days, IRNA
reported. He refused to comment on other prospective candidates or
the parties, but he did say that the platform is more important than
the individual. (Bill Samii)

Iran Azeris announced on 27 April that it supports the candidacy of
Hojatoleslam Mehdi Karrubi, the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA)
reported. The association’s statement noted the constitutional
articles that refer to ethnic rights and said their implementation
will bring about an “Iran for all Iranians” and contribute to unity
and national solidarity. (Bill Samii)

SUPREME LEADER DISCUSSES UNITY. Iran is currently commemorating
Islamic Unity Week — the anniversary of the birthday of the Prophet
Muhammad. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei discussed unity and
other subjects in a 26 April speech to Iranian officials in Tehran,
state radio reported. He said Islam’s enemies are trying to
undermine Muslim unity by exploiting “ethnic and factional”
divisions. “One can clearly see the enemies’ hand, the enemy
conspiracy, and the enemy plot behind every plan to divide us.” He
said that “organized conspiracies” are acting more aggressively than
ever against the Islamic community, and “global arrogance” fears
Islamic unity. Khamenei accused the United States and Israel of being
against Islam, said they are trying to drive a wedge between Islamic
governments, and added that they want to dominate the Islamic world.
(Bill Samii)

Amirkhani said on 24 April that the five people mainly responsible
for the 15-18 April unrest in that city have been arrested, Fars News
Agency reported. All have criminal records, he said. Of the 330
people arrested in connection with the unrest, 155 have been
Khuzestan Province judiciary official Mohsen Purabdullah said
the same day that the five ringleaders have confessed, ILNA reported.
The Ahwaz Human Rights Organization reported on 24 April that
1,700 people were arrested the week before, and more than 130 were
killed and 806 were injured
The organization claimed that Arab demonstrations and state violence
continue, that a local natural-gas plant is on fire, and that
personnel from Lebanese Hizballah are participating in the
repression. Turning to the 22 April solidarity parade in Ahvaz, the
organization said people were bussed in from predominantly Persian
areas and given Arab clothing to wear.
In the midst of conflicting reports about the restoration of
calm in Ahvaz, Iranian authorities arrested Iranian-Arab activist and
journalist Yusef Azizi Bani-Taraf at his home in Tehran on 25 April,
international news agencies reported. His wife, Salimeh Fotuhi, said,
“These agents appeared at our house at about 2 p.m., and after they
ransacked the entire apartment, they took away my husband and some
boxes filled with documents and manuscripts that they found in his
office,” Adnkronos International reported. “The agents said that the
arrest warrant was in relation to recent incidents that had taken
place in the south of the country.”
On 26 April, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called for
Bani-Taraf’s immediate release. “We strongly deplore the arrest
of [Bani-Taraf], who was simply expressing his personal opinion in
articles and in interviews given to other newspapers,” it said. RSF
said Bani-Taraf is being held at an unknown location, but it assumes
he is at Evin Prison with other journalists.
On 1 May the English-language “Iran News” reported that
Bani-Taraf was transferred to Ahvaz, citing the “Eqbal” daily. His
wife said Bani-Taraf is charged with “acting against the national
security and provoking people.” (Bill Samii)

in Tehran and Isfahan on 24 April to commemorate the killings and
mass deportations of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in Ottoman
Turkey from 1915-17, Radio Farda reported. The number of casualties
is disputed — Armenians say at least 1.5 million died, but Ankara
says 300,000 died and also says thousands of Turks died during that
time. Ankara also attributes the deaths to the war and other factors,
rather than a deliberate policy.
Participants in the rally included the Armenian ambassador to
Tehran and Armenian legislators. Radio Farda cited Nobel Peace Prize
winner Lech Walesa as saying that Armenia is right to discourage the
European Union from granting membership to Turkey until Ankara
acknowledges these events.
A number of people were injured when the Iranian-Armenians
clashed with Iranian-Azeris who were holding a counterdemonstration,
Azerbaijan’s ANS radio station reported on 26 April. World
Azerbaijani Congress official Ahmad Obali said police beat some of
the Azerbaijani students to stop the clash, but did not act against
the Armenians. (Bill Samii)

Saedi, two Kurdish journalists, were summoned to the Revolutionary
Court in the northwestern city of Sanandaj, ILNA reported on 24
April. Qavami said the charges against them were not specified in the
summons. He speculated that the summons relates to their speeches
about Kurdish reformists at Kurdistan University.
The hearing took place on 30 April, ILNA reported. Charges
against them related to their speeches and included: undermining
national security by advocating an election boycott, “insulting the
leadership and [Islamic] sanctities,” encouraging ethnic and
religious differences, “portraying the system as ineffective,”
propagandizing for antiregime groups, and insulting state officials.
The plaintiffs include the Student Basij, the provincial Islamic
Revolution Guards Corps and Ministry of Intelligence and Security,
and the police intelligence unit. (Bill Samii)

TEHRAN DAILY’S REPORTERS LAID OFF. More than 50 employees of the
“Iranshahr” section of the daily newspaper “Hamshahri” have been
dismissed from their jobs, Radio Farda reported on 27 April.
“Hamshahri” is affiliated with the Tehran municipality and has become
more conservative under Mayor Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad. Reporter Shahram
Farhangi told Radio Farda that the layoff is illegal because the
employees are entitled to one month notice, and he speculated that
there is a desire for more conservative correspondents. However,
Farhangi said, “Iranshahr” has never done political work. The
reporters plan to demonstrate outside the “Hamshahri” headquarters on
30 April, Radio Farda reported. (Bill Samii)

Khatami proposed in Tehran on 28 April that every municipality with a
population in excess of 1 million should hold mayoral elections,
state radio reported. Currently, the Interior Ministry appoints
mayors. Khatami explained, “This move will strengthen city management
and will encourage greater involvement by the people in the affairs
of the cities.” Iran’s first municipal council elections, in
1999, were supposed to have the same effect. Ill-defined powers
limited their effectiveness. (Bill Samii)

Syrian troops reportedly complete their withdrawal from Lebanese
territory in compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1559,
meetings between Iranian and Lebanese officials continue. These
visits may be connected with another aspect of Resolution 1559, which
calls for the disarmament of Lebanese militias.
Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Masud Edrisi-Kermanshahi said
on 28 April that Resolution 1559 does not apply to Hizballah, the
Lebanese National News Agency (LNNA) reported. He explained, “It is
well-known that the brave Lebanese resistance is not a militia, but a
force of resistance in fraternal Lebanon.” Edrisi was visiting the
coastal city of Sidon in southern Lebanon. He was accompanied by
embassy political officers Asadollah Kafashi and Abdolreza Qassemian,
public relations and cultural affairs chief Yusef Bajuq, and the
ambassador’s chief of staff Ali Shafedin.
In Tehran, Expediency Council Chairman Ayatollah Ali-Akbar
Hashemi-Rafsanjani met with Sheikh Abd al-Amir Qabalan, deputy head
of the Supreme Islamic Council of the Shi’a Community in Lebanon,
on 27 April, IRNA reported. Hashemi-Rafsanjani advised his guest,
“The Americans are after the implementation of their colonialist
plans aimed at securing their full hegemony in the region and looting
its resources.” He noted that developments in Iraq will have a
regional impact, and expressed the Iranian government’s concern
about events in Lebanon.
Qabalan said Islamic unity would prevent the United States,
Israel, or any other country from challenging the Muslim community.
“Today,” Qabalan told his host, “Iran is the source of hope for the
regional nations and the world Muslims.”
Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi met with Qabalan on 25 April
in Tehran, IRNA reported. Kharrazi warned his guest that there are
plots afoot to undermine Shi’a-Sunni unity, and he called on the
Lebanese people to be vigilant. Qabalan told his host that
Lebanon’s enemies are trying to bring about discord, but the
people will be vigilant.
Also on 25 April, an Iranian Foreign Ministry official
relayed a note from Kharrazi to Syrian Foreign Minister Faruq
al-Sha’lan, SANA News Agency reported. The contents of the note
were not disclosed.
Walid Jumblatt, the Druze leader of Lebanon’s Progressive
Socialist Party, met in Tehran with President Khatami on 24 April and
Foreign Minister Kharrazi on 23 April, IRNA and LNNA reported,
respectively. Jumblatt also met with Expediency Council Chairman
Hashemi-Rafsanjani, “Al-Hayat” reported on 25 April.
During his meeting with Jumblatt, Khatami pledged continuing
support for the “resistance” and warned of the possibility of a civil
war in Lebanon. Kharrazi and Jumblatt discussed Lebanese developments
and the withdrawal of Syrian troops from the country. They discussed
the future of the “resistance” and stressed that its armament is an
internal Lebanese issue. They agreed on “the danger of any new U.S.
attempt to target the countries in the region under the banner of
democratic change and devised chaos,” LNNA reported.
Another aspect of UN Security Council Resolution 1559 calls
for the disarmament of Lebanese militias. While still in Tehran,
Jumblatt defended Iran’s role in supporting Hizballah, “Al-Hayat”
reported. He asked rhetorically, “Is there any liberation movement in
history that has not received support from abroad?” He continued:
“The support of the Islamic Republic is natural against the Israeli
occupation. We have to emphasize the constants in protecting
Hizballah and the Arab and Islamic dimension of Lebanon.”
Turning to the Iranian role in regional affairs, Jumblatt
said: “I believe that the aim of some colonialist circles will remain
to destabilize the Islamic Republic and to strike at the gains of the
regime in Iran. Naturally, the purpose is to prevent Iran from
supporting liberation movements such as Hizballah in Lebanon.” (Bill

Apostle Sonny Anwanimi, persuaded two Iranian businessmen that he
inherited $39 million and needed help investing it, the Ghanaian
state-owned and government-controlled “Daily Graphic” reported on 25
April. In the process, the pastor first persuaded Karim Abdulalizadeh
that he had X-ray film to sell and collected a $10,000 deposit. He
then said more money is needed, so the Iranian businessmen wired him
$15,000. He collected a further $50,000 from Abdulalizadeh and his
partner, Khosrow Hassanabadi, on 18 April. When he failed to deliver
the film the Iranians complained to the police, who arrested
Anwanimi. Anwanimi returned $4,000 and promised to get his Nigerian
accomplices to return the rest of the money. (Bill Samii)

concerns about the rise of radical Islam in Nigeria — home of
Africa’s largest Muslim population,” according to the U.S. State
Department’s “Country Reports on Terrorism 2004”
(). Fifty
percent of Nigeria’s 137 million people are Muslims, 40 percent
are Christians, and the remainder practice indigenous beliefs. The
Iranian government is working in Nigeria to gain new converts to
Javad Torkabadi, the Iranian ambassador to Nigeria, presented
religious literature and computers to a Muslim umbrella organization
called the Jama’atul Nasril Islam (JNI) on 12 April, Nigerian
state television reported. The ceremony took place at JNI
headquarters in the northern city of Kaduna. The donation included
copies of the Koran, two computers, computer disks bearing the Hadith
(the Prophet Muhammad’s sayings and teachings), and other
materials. The Iranian official said this contribution should help
propagate Islam in Nigeria and that more should be expected.
Another allegedly pro-Iranian Islamic organization in Nigeria
is the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), headed by Sheikh Ibrahim
Yaqoub Zakzaky, a Shi’a cleric born in 1953. The IMN was founded
in the 1980s, after Zakzaky and others traveled to Iran. The
organization calls for creation of an Iranian-style Islamic state in
Nigeria (see ). It is not clear if
there is a formal relationship between Tehran and the IMN, or if the
IMN and the JNI are connected. (Bill Samii)

Admiral Ali Shamkhani and visiting Tajik Defense Minister Colonel
General Sherali Khayrulloev signed a memorandum of understanding on
defense issues on 23 April in Tehran, Iranian state television
reported. Khayrulloev was in Iran for five days. Shamkhani said the
agreement focuses on the provision of equipment, as well as training
for Tajik military personnel. Khayrulloev underlined the importance
of Tajikistan’s relationship with Iran, saying: “It is very
important when the great Iranian nation and government help
Tajikistan. If anyone even thought of betraying Tajikistan, he will
think about Tajikistan’s supporter first. Its supporter is Iran,
it is Mr. Shamkhani.” Khayrulloev met with President Khatami on 22
April, IRNA reported. (Bill Samii)

amended on 25 April a bill on the establishment of a new
cellular-telephone network in Iran, Radio Farda reported. In the
original February 2004 contract, Turkcell’s Iranian affiliate
(Irancell) had a majority stake and license to operate Iran’s
second mobile-phone network. In February 2005, the legislature
approved a bill that would reduce from 70 percent to 49 percent the
Turkish firm’s share of the network, but the Guardians Council,
which must approve all legislation, sent the bill back for further
consideration. Initial concern about the deal related to close
Israel-Turkey relations and Iranian allegations that this could
undermine the country’s security, according to Radio Farda. (Bill

Norwegian Aker Kvaerner company has won a four-year project
management contract in Iran worth $25 million, “The Norway Post” and
IRNA reported on 27 April. Among the services to be provided by Aker
Kvaerner are exploration and production consultancy, field
development, maintenance and operations, marine operations, and well
The company will work with Pars Oil and Gas Company in
developing two phases of the South Pars gas field. This will include
building two platforms, two pipelines, and a gas treatment terminal,
which on completion will produce 57 million cubic meters of gas a
day. Norway’s Statoil is working on three other phases of South
Pars. (Bill Samii)

CORRECTION: The previous issue of “RFE/RL Iran Report” gave the wrong
date for Supreme National Security Council Secretary Hojatoleslam
Hassan Rohani’s interview with the “Financial Times.” The article
was published on the daily’s website on 19 April, not 19

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