Ansar-e Hezbollah

Ansar-e Hezbollah[13] (Persian: انصار حزب‌الله‎, lit. 'Supporters of the Party of God') is a conservative paramilitary organization in Iran.[14] According to the Columbia World Dictionary of Islamism, it is a "semi-official quasi-clandestine organization of a paramilitary character that performs vigilante duties".[7]

Ansar-e Hezbollah
General SecretaryAbdolhamid Mohtasham[1]
Coordination headHossein Allahkaram[2]
Mashhad leaderHamid Ostad[3]
Kermanshah leaderSadegh Ashk-Talkh[4]
Tabriz leaderRuhollah Bejani[5]
Isfahan leaderKomeyl Kaveh[6]
Founded1990,[7] 1993[7] or 1995[8]
HeadquartersTehran
NewspaperYalasarat
Ideology
Political positionFar-right
ReligionShi'a Islam
SloganArabic: فَإِنَّ حِزْبَ ٱللَّهِ هُمُ ٱلْغَالِبُونَ
"Verily the Party of God are they that shall be triumphant" [Quran 5:56]

Hossein Allahkaram, one of the organization's known leaders has described it as "groups of young war veterans who, based on their revolutionary-Islamic duty, claim to be carrying out the Imam's will and rectifying existing shortcomings in Iran".[15]

In 2018, the group was targeted with sanctions by the US for its involvement "in the violent suppression of Iranian citizens" and for working with the Basij carrying out attacks on student protesters using "knives, tear gas and electric batons".[14]

Origin and statusEdit

Ansar-e Hizbullah, or Followers of the Party of God or more literally Helpers of Hizbullah in Persian, is said to be a semi-official, paramilitary group[16] formed in 1995. Unlike some other paramilitary groups, Ansar-e Hizbullah undergoes formal training.[17]

It is thought to be financed and protected by many senior government clerics. It is often characterized as a vigilante group[18] as they use force but are not part of government law enforcement, although it may not meet the strict definition of the word inasmuch as the group pledge loyalty to the Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei[19] and is thought to be protected by him.

It has been described as an "offshoot" [20] or "vigilante associate" of the Iranian Hezbollah,[21] a loose-knit movement of groups formed at the time of the Iranian Revolution to assist the Ayatollah Khomeini and his forces in consolidating power.

MembershipEdit

Most of the members of Ansar e Hezbollah are either members of the Basij militias or veterans of the Iran–Iraq War.[16]

ActivitiesEdit

The Ansar-e-Hezbollah is known for attacking protesters at anti-government demonstrations, in particular during the Iran student riots, July 1999.[22] and is thought to have been behind public physical assaults on two reformist government ministers in Sept. 1998.[23]

Ansar-e-Hezbollah is thought to have been behind death threats and a "series of physical assaults" on philosopher and ex-hardliner Abdolkarim Soroush "that left him bruised, battered and often in tattered clothes." [24]

The organization has been associated with a crackdown on "mal-veiling", i.e. the wearing of a hejab by a woman such that some hair is visible, which has been blamed in Iran for inciting sexual assaults. They operate Yalasarat, a newspaper and associated website that explain the official positions of hardliners in the Iranian government on female behavior.[25][26]

Ezzat Ebrahim-Nejad killingEdit

A 2000 expose of Ansar-e Hezbollah involved the murder of Ezzat Ebrahim-Nejad. Ebrahim-Nejad was a university student and poet whose killing by "plain-clothesmen" following a peaceful protest over a newspaper closing was partially responsible for the destructive five-day-long Iran student riots in July 1999. In March 2000, human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi reports a man by the name of Amir Farshad Ebrahimi appeared at her office claiming to have

firsthand information about his comrades who had carried out the attack on the dormitory. He said he belonged to … Ansar-e Hezbollah … and that the group's chief had thrown him in prison for trying to resign from his unit.

Ebadi made a videotape of Ebrahimi confession in which he claimed that not only had his group been involved in the attack on the dormitory where Ebrahim-Nejad was killed, but that "During the time he was active in the group, he had also been involved in violent attacks on two reformist ministers" in president Khatami's cabinet.[27]

Hardline newspapers reported the existence of the confession, which they called the "Tape makers" case. In a number of inflammatory stories they claimed Ebrahimi was mentally unstable and that Ebadi and another lawyer Rohami had manipulated him into testifying, and in any case confession blemished the Islamic revolution.[27] Ebadi and Rohami were sentenced to five years in jail and suspension of their law licenses for sending Ebrahimi's videotaped deposition to President Khatami. Ebarahimi was sentenced to 48 months jail, including 16 months in solitary confinement.

2009 Election ProtestsEdit

On 18 June 2009 the Los Angeles Times newspaper reported that "hard-line Ansar-e Hezbollah militiamen warned that they would be patrolling the streets to maintain law and order."[28]

See alsoEdit

References and notesEdit

  1. ^ "Iran: Radical group gears up to begin morality patrols". Asharq Al-Awsat. 11 September 2014. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  2. ^ Changiz M. Varzi (5 December 2016). "Iranian hard-liner alleges FM Zarif is American spy". Al-Monitor. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  3. ^ Rachel Avraham (4 January 2016). "Report: Saudi Embassy attacked by Iranian governmental mobs". Jeruslaem Online. Archived from the original on 28 July 2018. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  4. ^ Iran Report, 5, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 15 July 2002, retrieved 25 March 2017
  5. ^ Emil Souleimanov, Kamil Pikal, Josef Kraus (Spring 2013), The Rise of Nationalism Among Iranian Azerbaijanis: A Step toward Iran's Disintegration? (PDF), 17, Middle East Review of International Affairs, pp. 71–91CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  6. ^ Morteza Nikoubazl (18 August 2014), "Acid Attacks on Women Spread Terror in Iran", Reuters, retrieved 17 April 2017 – via The Daily BeastCS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  7. ^ a b c d Antoine, Olivier; Sfeir, Roy (2007), The Columbia World Dictionary of Islamism, Columbia University Press, p. 149
  8. ^ Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Iran: Group known as Anssar-e Hizbollah (Ansar/Anzar e Hezbollah), 18 September 2000,IRN34994.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3df4be430.html [accessed 11 May 2017]
  9. ^ Hamoon Khelghat-Doost (22 August 2016), The Ideo-Pragmatic Model (IPM); Understanding the Foreign and Security Policy of Ideologically Driven Authoritarian States, 22, National University of Singapore[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Afshon Ostovar (2016). Vanguard of the Imam: Religion, Politics, and Iran's Revolutionary Guards. Oxford University Press. p. 155. ISBN 0190491701.
  11. ^ Ali Alfoneh (1 January 2007), "Iran's Suicide Brigades", Critical Threats Project, retrieved 17 April 2017
  12. ^ a b Sinkaya, Bayram (2015), The Revolutionary Guards in Iranian Politics: Elites and Shifting Relations, Routledge, p. 137, ISBN 1317525647
  13. ^ CIA - The World Factbook see the "Government" section, "Political pressure groups and leaders" subsection in the 2006 version
  14. ^ a b Iran's Evin prison, Ansar-e Hezbollah face new US sanctions May 31, 2018
  15. ^ Moslem, Mehdi (2002). Factional Politics in Post-Khomeini Iran. Syracuse University Press. p. 136. ISBN 978-0815629788.
  16. ^ a b Ansar-i Hizbullah Followers of the Party of God
  17. ^ Basij Militia. NYT.com June 19, 2009
  18. ^ Debate hots up in Iranian media July 1999
  19. ^ Vigilantes join the fray June 2003
  20. ^ Amnesty International. 1997. "Iran: Human Rights Violations Against Shi'a Religious Leaders and Their Followers." London: Amnesty International. (MDE 13/18/97)
  21. ^ Middle East International, 15 Oct. 1999, 23
  22. ^ Injustice and ill treatment Amnesty International 7 July 2004
  23. ^ Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran
  24. ^ The Last Great Revolution by Robin Wright c2000, p.56
  25. ^ CORRESPONDENT (2011-07-08). "Paint it Black: The Hejab Hype and the Force of Fear". PBS Frontline.
  26. ^ "Ansar-i Hizbullah". Globalsecurity.org.
  27. ^ a b Ebadi, Shirin, Iran Awakening, by Shirin Ebadi with Azadeh Moaveni, Random House New York, 2006, p.160-1
  28. ^ Daragahi, Borzou; Mostaghim, Ramin; Murphy, Kim (19 June 2009). "Iran protests continue for fourth day". Los Angeles Times.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit