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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 14 Aug 1999 to 15 Aug 1999
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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 14 Aug 1999 to 15 Aug 1999
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There are 2 messages totalling 400 lines in this issue.
Topics of the day:
1. Wall Street Journal: 'Coal Burning Under Ashes'
2. History Channel: Military blunders : Iran Air 655 shot down July 3rd 1988
Date: Sun, 15 Aug 1999 16:59:55 -0500
From: aryopirouznia <aryopirouznia@EMAIL.MSN.COM>
Subject: Wall Street Journal: 'Coal Burning Under Ashes'
Wall Street Journal
In Iran's Holy City, Islamic Factions Fight For Soul of a Nation
Student Unrest Emboldens Qom's Reformers to Test Resolve of Hard-Liners
'Coal Burning Under Ashes'
By DANIEL PEARL Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNALQOM, Iran
If Iran is locked in a struggle between Islamic clerics and secular
should be little doubt which side this holy city is on.
At seminaries here, 30,000 students train themselves to be tomorrow's
mullahs, or religious
scholars. Bookstores have little else but Islamic-studies titles-a few
stores are even devoted to a single scholar. Women cover themselves
thoroughly. And from tiny offices in alley-ways, grey-bearded ayatollahs,
the top religious experts for the Shiite Muslims who dominate Iran, issue
pronouncements that can prompt government officials to drive two hours
southwest through the desert from Tehran to explain them-selves.
But Iran's Islamic conservatives do have something to worry about: Here in
power center, a growing number of clerics are trying to break the
Qom, as a whole, has become "hostile" to the hard-liners, maintains
Abolhasan Bani Sadr, Iran's former president, from his exile home in
Versailles, France. It's a hidden hostility, "like coal burning under
ashes," says a businessman in Qom. "They're waiting for a way to show, 'We'
re with you.' "Some leftist mullahs are openly campaigning against the long
house arrest of top religious figures who criticized the country's
conservative religious leader-ship. Two ayatollahs boldly say that a recent
police raid on a student dormitory in Tehran was worse than anything the
Shah did before the Islamic revolution ousted him in 1979.
The hard-liners fight back
A parade of left-wing clerics who oppose the hardliners have been beaten,
jailed or hauled into court in recent months. Though the protests that
recently rocked Iran were widely described as a rebellion by youth against
the clerical establishment, the truth is that Iran is embroiled in a
struggle between two factions of clerics. Iranians know them as the "Yat"
and the "Youn," and their rift goes back two decades.
The conservative Jameh Rouhaniyat Mobarez ("militant clergy association")
has great influence with Iran's un elected supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei. The Majma-e Rouhan-iyoun-e Mobarez ("militant clergy society")
backs the reformist President Mohammed Khatami. The Rouhaniyoun controlled
the newspaper whose closure prompted last month's bloody student riots, and
are shouting as loudly as anybody in Iran for free speech, rule of law, and
greater presidential power.
Like Plato and Aristotle
"We can't be photocopies of each other," says Ayatollah Assadollah Bayat of
the clergy. Ayatollah Bayat, one of the Rouhaniyoun's founders, was
prosecuted by the hard-line judiciary in December for alleged financial
improprieties, but later released. "Plato did not always agree with
Aristotle, and Republicans don't always agree with Democrats," he says.
The mullahs' power struggle helps ex-plain Iran's turbulence, but also
suggests its limits. No mullahs, and probably few Iranians, want to topple
the government. Leaders of both clerical factions have made private
assurances they'll join hands if a new revolution is in the air. For now,
the Rouhaniyoun are keeping up the pressure. 'They're encouraging President
Khatami to investigate the-authorities who ordered the recent raid on a
student dormitory that led to bloody pro-tests.
They say they will re-launch their pro-Khatami newspaper, Salaam. And
pro-Khatami mullahs plan to run a full slate of 270 candidates in crucial
parliamentary elections this February, virtually daring the hard-liners who
control the electoral process to risk street demonstrations by disqualifying
Attempts to muzzle The pro-reform mullahs also are trying to stir things up
in Qom itself, with a
new group that brings lecturers from Tehran. Hard-liners have tried to
muzzle the group, and fist-throwing vigilantes ended two lectures this year.
"If anything, I'd say it seems they have more tolerance towards non clerical
political opponents," Tehran University professor Sadeq Zibakalam says of
Iran's right wing.
There's a reason for that. Newscasters still call Qom the "city of blood and
revolt," because a June 1962 police attack on the Faizieh Theological School
started Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's rebellion against the Shah. Going to
prison under the Shah or taking political jobs after he fled was a badge of
honor for the clergy.
Now, clerics fill barely one-tenth of the seats in Iran's parliament - a
post-revolution low. A growing minority of ayatollahs argues that the clergy
should shun government service
and stay in Qom because Iran's government is giving Islam a bad name, just
as they say Israel is harming the reputation of Jews.
Qom is a dreary city, enlivened some- what by the smell of pistachio brittle
and the sight of
robed clerics on motorbikes.
Students spend up to two decades studying Islamic philosophy or law in Qom's
seminaries, scraping by on $30-a-month stipends from senior ayatollahs.
Sitting in low-ceilinged rooms, or walking around the quadrangle of the
Faizieh Theological School, students and teachers discuss questions such as
whether God created the soul or the body first.
Scholars who stay out of politics have a lot of freedom. Take Ayatollah
Ibrahim Jannaati, an energetic, red-bearded man who can discuss the 72 sects
of Shiite Islam but has trouble remembering the name of Iran's president.
Reaching into a brief-case, Ayatollah Jannaati pulls out his 100-page proof
that music with clean lyrics is permitted, his treatise proving that a woman
could serve as president, his "Theory of Absolute Cleanness of All Human
Beings." "It has to be based on reason," he says, but "you can say
The trouble has more to do with political factions within the clergy dating
to the revolution. One faction comprised traditionalists with ties to
Iranian businessmen. The other group was made up of leftists, proud of their
advocacy of Iran's poor, their intimacy with Ayatollah Khomeini, and their
seizure of the U.S Embassy. The leftists included a gang of radical mullahs
who organized Islamist guerrillas in Lebanon, and were known for their zeal
in executing political prisoners in the early 1980s.
Now, some of the same mullahs are the backers of Mr. Khatami's "open
society" and "dialogue of civilizations." They explain the change by noting
that Iran is more stable in the 1990s than it was in the 1980s. But some
skeptics wonder if the leftists, who lost power in a 1992 purge, simply
adopted the language of political have-nots. "The background of some of them
is not that much different than the right-wingers," says Ali Noorizadeh of
the Centre for Arab and Iranian Studies in London.
"God knows, if they come back, what they will do."
By 1997, tired of political exile, the Rouhaniyoun sought an audience with
the country's powerful supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. Though he is
often described in the West as a "hard-liner," he is also a seasoned
politician, who recently has been appointing moderates to top positions in
an apparent attempt to reduce his reliance on hard-line clerics.
Ayatollah Khamenei told the Rouhaniyoun to choose a candidate, and assured
his support if the candidate won the presidency, one cleric who attended the
meeting recalls. Mr. Khatami, a gentle Qom-trained scholar and former
minister of culture, accepted the challenge, and attracted the support of
Tehran's intellectuals, but clergy were the muscle in his campaign.
The Rouhaniyoun's daily newspaper, Salaam, defended the candidate against
right-wing attacks, and the organization assembled 3,000 clerics to tout Mr.
Khatami around the country in Friday-prayer speeches.
Mr. Khatami's May 1997 election victory emboldened the Rouhaniyoun. Some
members were frustrated that it didn't increase their power in Qom, where
big institutions remain in the hands of the rival Rouhaniyat. The
right-wingers "felt their exclusive sovereignty in danger," and started
sacking left-wing mullahs from their jobs as Friday prayer leaders, says
Rouhaniyoun spokesman Rasoul Monta-jabnia, in his office above a West Tehran
And the right-wing judiciary started building files on Rouhaniyoun clerics,
says Mr. Montajabnia, who says he was recently hauled to court for
criticizing the police in a university speech last year. Rouhaniyoun members
believed it was a right-wing effort to find excuses to keep them off the
ballot in next year's parliamentary elections.
This year, tired of reading hard-line announcements from the Qom Seminary
Teachers Association, leftists joined with sympathetic student groups and
brought lecturers to Qom who
believed Islam had to adapt itself to the modern World.
One reformer was the Ayatollah Khamenei's younger brother, Hadi. When he
tried to speak at a mosque in Qom in February, thugs charged at him, fists
flying, and sent him to the hospital, witnesses say. A Tehran-based cleric
who helped organize the lectures was jailed by a special clerical court
after writing a book suggesting the supreme leader's powers be limited.
Winning real influence in Qom will require going to the top.
Shiite Muslims believe that until the 12th Imam reappears on Earth, they
religious guidance from one of the most learned scholars.
There are seven or eight of these elite ayatollahs, called marjas, in Qom.
They collect religious donations, and dispense advice to both the powerful
and the powerless. "The support and approval of one marja for Khatami would
have a great effect," says one clerical adviser to Mr. Khatami, who made two
trips to Qom to meet with the marjas.
Mr. Khatami did get one marja's support, but it backfired. Ayatollah Hussein
Ali Montazeri, a squeaky-voiced scholar who once was in line to be Iran's
leader, started a small riot in Qom in November 1997 with a taped diatribe
calling on Mr. Khatami to demand more presidential
power. The police put the ayatollah under house arrest. President Khatami
This year, leftist clerics have been agitating to spring the dissident
cleric free. Sources in Tehran and Qom say the Khatami-led National Security
Council recently tried to lift the ban on Ayatollah Montazeri. Police still
block anybody but immediate family from the ayatollah's
home, but a newspaper run by one cleric close to the president recently
printed one of Ayatollah Montazeri's announcements.
Some students also believe top ayatollahs had an unusually moderate response
to the student
riots that followed the deadly July 9 dormitory raid. Student leaders
reached out to friendly clerics, taking them on a three-hour tour of the
dormitory, with its smashed furniture and ransacked bookshelves. A team of
students drove to Qom to show photographs of beaten students. One ayatollah
broke down in tears, meeting participants say.
Blaming the Theory
And Mr. Khatami kept the pressure on, saying he blamed the theorists behind
violence more than those who commit it. It seemed to be a clear reference to
a hard-line Qom ayatollah who had just explained that violence is permitted
against enemies of Islam.
But in Qom, some leftists aren't ready to take on their adversaries
publicly. When the Rouhaniyoun were in power, Mohammed Abai-Khorasani ran
the Islamic Propagation Office in Qom, which has a staff of 700 researchers
and publishes 12 Islamic journals. Now, he runs a one-man research center,
in the basement of his home across the street from a bike shop.
from noon prayers at a hard-line ayatollah's mosque, the diminutive
Ayatollah Khorasani serves sweetened water and is asked whom he thought Mr.
Khatami was referring to in the speech. "I cannot name those people," he
says. "Maybe I'm scared. Maybe I don't know them."
Date: Sun, 15 Aug 1999 21:05:51 -0400
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: History Channel: Military blunders : Iran Air 655 shot down July 3rd
Summary: On patrol in the Persian Gulf, the USS Vincennes shot down an
Iranian passenger jet that it had mistaken for a hostile Iranian fighter
aircraft. U.S. Navy Captain Will C. Rogers III ordered a single missile
fired from his warship, which hit its target and killed all 290 people
aboard the commercial airbus. The attack came towards the end of the
Iran-Iraq War, while U.S. vessels in the Persian Gulf had been
patrolling to ward off Iranian attacks on Kuwaiti oil tankers. The
international community was outraged by the American attack on a large
civilian aircraft, but the Pentagon and White House defended the action.
The United States claimed that the aircraft was outside the commercial
jet flight corridor, flying at only 7,000 feet, and on a descent toward
the Vincennes. One month later, U.S. authorities admitted that both the
Vincennes and the airbus had been within a recognized commercial
flightpath, and that the Iranian jet was flying at 12,000 feet and not
descending. The U.S. Navy's final report blamed crew error caused by
psychological stress on men in combat for the first time.
Click here for complete details about this event.
Who is more to blame? Anderson, for mishandling a 'Friend or Foe' query
Rogers, for firing without cause The pilot of Flight 655, for not
responding to radio warnings
What do you think?
Should Rogers or other members of the crew have been reprimanded?
Click here to tell us what you think on the message boards.
Read a conspiracy theory about the USS Vincennes and Iran Air Flight
See the official text of the United Nations resolution regarding the
Read another viewpoint on where the U.S. government stands.
Details: An Iran Air passenger plane, Flight 655, was shot down by the
U.S.S. Vincennes--a U.S. Navy warship--killing all 290 passengers and
crew as the plane flew over the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf.
Stationed in the Gulf during the Iran-Iraq war, U.S. presence was
intended to escort and defend Kuwait oil tankers registered under the
U.S. flag. The crew of the Vincennes, in battle with gunboats of the
Iranian Revolutionary Guard that were harassing the passing oil tankers
at the time, apparently misidentified the plane as an Iranian F-14
fighter. Tracking the plane's approach, the Vincennes radioed repeated
warnings to the Iran Air plane not to approach. When it became obvious
that the crew of the plane would not concede, the Vincennes fired two
surface-to-air missiles, exploding the plane.
Questions abounded about how the bulky passenger plane could have been
mistaken for an F-14 fighter plane, which is much smaller and
sleeker--about a third of the size of the Boeing 747 passenger plane.
However, due to the sand haze from the Arabian Desert that shrouded the
Gulf, the approaching plane was not visible to the naked eye, even at
the nine-mile mark where the Vincennes fired. Additionally, the plane
was flying towards the warship head-on, showing a smaller dot on the
radar than it would have from the side. Further adding to the confusion,
the passenger flight had taken off from Bandar Abbas airport, which
served both civilian and military craft and happened to be the center of
Iran's F-14 operations. Any plane lifting off from Bandar Abbas was
automatically tracked and assumed hostile until shown to be otherwise.
No Air Force Airborne Warning and Control System or Navy Hawkeye sentry
planes were positioned over the Gulf to provide further identification
of the aircraft, leaving the ship to rely on its own communication tools
and instinct to make a decision.
Several contradictions exist in the telling of the events surrounding
the attack on Flight 655. U.S. Navy Capt. Will C. Rogers III had
received orders earlier to stay in a position where the Vincennes could
monitor the movement of the Iranian gunboats. When the Vincennes fired
on the Iran Air flight, claiming that it was four miles outside of the
standard commercial flight path from Bandar Abbas airport in Iran to
Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, records show that the Vincennes was
actually inside of Iran's territorial waters, not forty miles south
(where the ship had been ordered by fleet headquarters to stay) as
Rogers and government reports had claimed. Furthermore, Flight 655 was
directly inside of its commercial flight path, not four miles outside of
it--as Rogers and the Vincennes crew also claimed.
The reason for Rogers moving the Vincennes so far away from his ordered
post? The warship was purportedly off to defend its helicopter, which
had been deployed--under orders from fleet headquarters--on a
reconnaissance mission, to check out the group of gunboats hovering
further north. Anti-aircraft rounds from one or more of the gunboats
were fired, giving Rogers reason to approach; when the Vincennes arrived
on the scene, lookouts reported that a few of the gunboats were headed
towards the ship. It remains unclear whether this was actually the case:
the gunboats likely couldn't see the Vincennes, with their low profiles
and amidst the sandy haze hovering over the gulf; also, the gunboats
were within Iranian territorial waters--firing on them here would be a
breach of international law.
Unfortunately, that is exactly what Rogers decided to do. It was in the
midst of this gunfire that Flight 655 took off, and was (as is routine)
identified initially as a hostile aircraft by the Vincennes' AEGIS
monitoring system. The first person to try to establish the plane's
identity was Petty Officer Andrew Anderson, who sent out the electronic
query, "Identify, Friend or Foe?" The automated response from Flight 655
came back as "commair"--a commercial airliner. Anderson tried to confirm
this, but in checking navy listings of scheduled flights over the Gulf,
Anderson apparently missed Flight 655, possibly confused by the Gulf's
four different time zones. The Vincennes sent out the first of four
warnings over the military emergency channel for the plane to change its
course. Three subsequent warnings were sent out over the civilian
emergency channel as well, although none were broadcast over air traffic
control--despite the Vincennes having the capability. It is speculated
that inside the cockpit of Flight 655, all channels were in use
communicating with ground control, since the plane had just taken off.
When Anderson again sent out the "Identify, Friend or Foe?" query, he
received a different response: military aircraft. Rogers' decision to
fire was made while under the impression that the query was correct--in
fact, Anderson had forgotten to reset the system after the first query,
and the response he received was probably from a fighter plane on the
runway back at Bandar Abbas. Rogers held that, at the time that he
ordered for the crew to fire, the plane was descending and rapidly
approaching--in fact, Flight 655 was actually ascending, and its speed
was holding steady.
Still more factors come into play. The captains of all of the ships
stationed in the Persian Gulf were under specific "Rules of Engagement"
at that time, with orders to fire to avoid being fired upon. The
heightened response to aircraft was due to an incident the previous year
when the USS Stark was fired upon by an Iraqi fighter plane, killing
thirty-seven American sailors. Navy officials reported also that on at
least eight separate counts, Iraqi commercial planes had flown over
commercial warships in what they deemed "a threatening manner"--possibly
leading to anxious crew conditions. In fact, the U.S. military later
issued a statement holding the crew accountable for the shooting, but
held that their actions were influenced by the stress of being in battle
for the first time.
In the end, nothing in the way of punishment happened to Rogers and his
crew. Rogers became a military instructor, and then retired in 1991. The
crew of the Vincennes received combat-action ribbons. The air warfare
coordinator on board, Lt. Cmdr. Scott Lustig, received a commendation
medal for his ability to "quickly and precisely complete the firing
procedure"--the same firing procedure that shot down Flight 655.
* Farhad Abdolian New York/USA *
* http://www.algonet.se/~farhad/ *
* E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org *
* email@example.com *
End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 14 Aug 1999 to 15 Aug 1999