The Corner

Embassy Seizure Anniversary- Part II

Remember the controversy about whether Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took part in the seizure of the US embassy?  Several hostages remembered him, but the CIA and State Department officials said they could find no evidence of his participation.  Now, it appears some evidence has surfaced:  The April 30, 2003 issue of Ya Lisarat al-Hussain, the mouthpiece of the hard line Ansar-i Hizbullah movement, describes Ahmadinejad as a participant.  The clipping dates from his appointment to the mayoralty of Tehran, and the relevant portion is the last line on the far right column, and the first line on the top two lines in the middle column: “Ahmadinejad was also one of the members of the Students Following the Line of the Imam in their conquest of the Nest of Spies….”

A couple annotations:  The “Students Following the Line of the Imam” is the group that seized the embassy which the Iranian government today still refers to as “the Nest of Spies.”  “Ansar-i Hizbullah” (Defenders of the Party of God), are a hardline vigilante group closely linked to the security services.  In recent years, they are best remembered for leading the assault in 1999 on a Tehran University student dormitory that led to several days of student protests.  I detail their intellectual history and evolution in my first monograph, Into the Shadows.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations, and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly.


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