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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 30 Sep 1998 to 1 Oct 1998

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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 30 Sep 1998 to 1 Oct 1998
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There are 13 messages totalling 701 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. Crashed Israel Jet Hauled Chemicals
2. Iran withdraws 60 diplomats
3. Iran can hit Israel from Lebanon: top Lebanese Shiite leader
4. New verdict on German condemned to death in Iran due by Monday
5. Iranian commander boasts he could crush Taliban in 48 hours
6. Iran threatens to hit back at any Israeli strike
7. Iran suspends pro-Khatami weekly newspaper
8. Two Bahais sentenced to death in Iran
9. 27 Bahais arrested in Iran
10. Afghan-Iran standoff hits border trade
11. PRESS DIGEST - Iran - Sept 30
12. Pledge on Rushdie clears obstacle in Iran ties-EU
13. Moslems' Duty To Kill Rushdie -Iran Clerics


Date: Thu, 1 Oct 1998 15:43:11 +0200
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad.abdolian@RSA.ERICSSON.SE>
Subject: Crashed Israel Jet Hauled Chemicals

.c The Associated Press

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) -- An Israeli cargo jet that crashed in
Amsterdam six years ago was carrying chemicals used to produce the deadly
sarin nerve gas, a Dutch newspaper reported Wednesday.

The El Al plane was carrying 50 gallons of the chemical identified as
dimethyl methylphosphonate when it crashed into an apartment block outside
Amsterdam in 1992, according to the respected national daily NRC Handelsblad.

Citing a freight document, the newspaper said the chemical came from an
American company in Pennsylvania and was headed for the Israel Institute
for Biological Research in Ness Ziona near Tel Aviv.

The U.S. company was identified as Solkatronic Chemicals Inc., which was
bought this year by Air Products and Chemicals Inc., of Allentown, Pa.

Steve Morth, a company spokesman, confirmed Solkatronic sold 480 pounds of
the chemical to the Israeli government. Morth said the Israelis claimed the
chemical would be used to test absorption filters.

A copy of the freight document was printed on the front page of the Dutch
newspaper, which did not say how it acquired the papers.

Nearly six years after the accident, controversies still surround the
plane's cargo, despite repeated investigations.

Ahead of the report, the Dutch parliament announced it will launch a
parliamentary inquiry into the accident.

According to NRC, the amount of dimethyl methylphosphonate on board was
enough to produce up to 594 pounds of the nerve gas.

The raw material also is used in building materials as a flame retardant.

Four main components are needed for the production of sarin and three of
them were on board the El Al jet, the newspaper said.

The newspaper said it was not clear whether the burning of these chemicals
following the accident was to blame for health complaints by residents near
the crash site.

The Boeing 747-200 crashed into an apartment complex in southern Amsterdam
on Oct. 4, 1992, killing 43 people. Israeli officials said earlier the
plane did not carry any dangerous materials.

A spokesman for the Dutch Transport Ministry declined comment on the
report, saying all the details concerning the plane's cargo were announced

AP-NY-09-30-98 2053EDT


Date: Thu, 1 Oct 1998 22:39:17 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran withdraws 60 diplomats

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Iran has recalled its diplomats
and thdir familes -- some 60 people all together -- from Pakistan but the
Pakistani government has not been given an official reason why.
Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Akhonzade says the evacuation is
a safety measure.
Akhonzade says the recent killing of nine Iranian diplomats in
Afghanistan has Iranians in other missions worried. Since the deaths of
those Iranian diplomats, tensions between Iran and Afghanistan has
peaked. Iran has some 270,000 troops along its Afghan border while 25,
000 Taliban militia await any attack.
Iran has been accusing Pakistan of supporting the Taliban militia,
which the Iranians says is responsible of killing of its diplomats and
thousands of Shiites Muslims in Afghanistan. Iran backs a Shiites Muslim
group fighting against Taliban.
The withdrawal of Iranian diplomats may be a sign that Iran is
planning to attack Afghanistan. Iran is to begin a military exercise
along the Afghan border Thursday. Iranian authorities have been
reiterating their intention that if the United Nations or other world
forces fail to resolve the issue, Iran will decide itself.
Iran demands the release of Iranian prisoners in Afghanistan, an
apology fromthe Kabul government for the deaths of the nine diplomats
and punishment to those responsible for the killings.


Date: Thu, 1 Oct 1998 22:39:33 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran can hit Israel from Lebanon: top Lebanese Shiite leader

BEIRUT, Oct 1 (AFP) - Iran can bombard Israel with sophisticated
weapons from Lebanese territory if the Jewish state strikes Iranian
soil, a top Shiite Moslem leader was reported Thursday as saying.
"Iran is capable of bombarding Israel with sophisticated arms
from Lebanon if Israel strikes (Iran) in any way," said Sheikh
Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, the pro-Iranian spiritual guide of
Shiite fundamentalists in Lebanon.
"Everything that is prohibited today will be allowed in case of
an aggression against Iran, and Israel knows that," he told
London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.
Fadlallah was referring to the April 1996 ceasefire agreement
that bans the targetting of civilians or launching of attacks from
civilian areas across the Lebanese-Israeli borders.
The Shiite fundamentalist Hezbollah organization, backed by Iran
and Syria, spearheads the guerrilla war to force Israel out of
However, terms of the 1996 accord are often violated by both
Fadlallah said there were moves, even in the United States,
favoring normalisation with Iran, and described Israeli threats
against Iran as a mere "media show."
Israel has repeatedly expressed concern over the development of
Iranian ballistic missiles and on Monday Israeli army chief Shaul
Mofaz warned of a possible preemptive strike to keep Tehran from
developing nuclear arms.
"The Israeli army must be ready to launch a preventive strike if
this becomes necessary," Mofaz said. "The preemptive strike has
always been part of Israel's strategic options."
Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said
Israel "will not sit back with our arms crossed in the face of the
very serious strategic threat which Iranian missiles pose to
During a military parade last week Iran displayed its latest
missile, the Shahab-3, which is capable of reaching Israel.
Israeli military officials expected the Shahab-3 to be
operational next year and fear Iran will then quickly develop a
Shahab-4 capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Israeli television added to the debate Friday by reporting that
the first squadron of Israeli F-15I fighter planes, delivered by the
United States at the start of 1998 and capable of attacking Iran or
Iraq, are now operational.


Date: Thu, 1 Oct 1998 22:40:20 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: New verdict on German condemned to death in Iran due by Monday

TEHRAN, Oct 1 (AFP) - An Iranian appeals court is expected to
deliver its verdict by Monday on German businessman Helmut Hofer,
who had been sentenced to death for having an affair with a Moslem
woman, his lawyer said Thursday.
Malek-Hushang Qahari told AFP that he had been expecting a
verdict Thursday but that it had been postponed and was now due by
Monday (Eds: correct).
Iranian authorities have kept silent on the case, but the German
foreign ministry said last week that the appeals court had ended its
hearing on September 24 and that a verdict would be handed down by
October 1.
Hofer was sentenced to death in January under a law banning
sexual relations between Moslems and non-Moslems but the the Iranian
supreme court later overturned the verdict and the appeals court
began hearings last Saturday.
Hofer's lawyer had asked for a retrial on the grounds that the
57-year-old businessman had converted to Islam when the relationship
started. The court had asked them to produce proof.
The issue has reignited tensions between Bonn and Tehran, whose
relations were strained over a German court verdict in 1997 accusing
top Iranian leaders of ordering the assassination of Kurdish
dissidents in a Berlin restaurant in 1992.


Date: Thu, 1 Oct 1998 22:40:47 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranian commander boasts he could crush Taliban in 48 hours

TEHRAN, Oct 1 (AFP) - An Iranian military commander boasted
Thursday he could crush the Taliban in two days, stepping up the
rhetoric as the government pursued diplomatic efforts to isolate the
hardline militia in Afghanistan.
"If the great commander-in-chief issues an order, the Guards and
the Basij (volunteer militia) will crush the criminal Taliban in 48
hours," said deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards,
Brigadier-General Mohammad-Baqer Zolqadre, referring to Iran's
supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
"If our security is threatened, we will give such a lesson to
the aggressors that it will set a historic example," he said. "The
children of the Islamic Iran will not allow any transgression
against our ideals and soil."
But the general said Iran's policy is to "exercise restraint
towards Afghanistan, while it stays mighty and ready."
Tensions have mounted between Shiite Moslem Iran and the Sunni
Moslem Taliban over the militia's murder of Iranian diplomats in
northern Afghanistan in August.
Iran has vowed to exact revenge, but promised first to exhaust
all political channels to resolve the crisis.
Around 200,000 Iranian army troops have been stationed at the
border with Afghanistan to prepare for Zolfaqar-2 maneuvers due to
be held shortly.
Tens of thousands of the elite forces of the Revolutionary
Guards, used as a rapid-action intervention force, have also been
deployed there to maintain security.
Meanwhile, the Iranian government has stepped up a diplomatic
drive to contain the Taliban, which has forcibly seized more than 90
percent of Afghanistan since it emerged four years ago and defied
international calls for a peaceful settlement with other factions in
the war-torn country.
Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi, presently in New York to attend
the UN General Assembly, discussed the situation in Afghanistan late
Wednesday with his counterparts from Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and
He also held talks with the deputy foreign minister of ousted
Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani, whose government is still
recognized by the international community -- except for Pakistan,
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
In a meeting with Ezeddin Laraki, secretary general of the
Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Kharazi renewed
demands that the Taliban release dozens of detained Iranians and
arrest the militiamen who killed the eight Iranian diplomats and a
Kharazi also called for a broad-based government in Afghanistan,
according to Iran's official news agency IRNA.
IRNA said Laraki planned to visit several regional countries,
including Iran, soon to discuss the situation.
Lakhdar Brahimi, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's special envoy
is also touring the region and held talks Wednesday with UAE
President Sheikh Zayed ibn Sultan al-Nahayan.
The five permanent members of the UN Security Council last week
called for a ceasefire in Afghanistan and an end to arms sales to
the two sides fighting.
The delegation was dispatched to the region after the "Six plus
Two" meeting in New York last week of the United States, Russia and
six neighbors of Afghanistan -- including Iran and Pakistan.
Brahimi is due to arrive in Tehran on Saturday and will spend
several days here before travelling to Pakistan, Iran's rival for
influence in Afghanistan.
Tehran has been sharply critical of Islamabad for its support of
the Taliban and partly blamed Pakistan for the murder of its
Iran's foreign ministry said Thursday it has scaled down its
mission in Pakistan but denied the move meant relations had
"These people have come home because of certain problems that
have been created, and they will return to their missions soon after
the problems are resolved," he said.


Date: Thu, 1 Oct 1998 22:41:25 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran threatens to hit back at any Israeli strike

TEHRAN, Oct 1 (AFP) - Iran blasted threats by Israel of a
preemptive strike on Iranian military and nuclear facilities as
"war-mongering" on Thursday and warned it would hit back.
"The recent threats are another sign of the Zionist regime's
war-mongering attitude," said foreign ministry spokesman Mahmud
Mohammadi. "Iran will respond severely to any strike or act of
aggression. Our shining record of the past is a testimony to our
resolve to protect our borders."
Israeli army chief Shaul Mofaz warned on Monday of a possible
preemptive strike to keep Tehran from developing nuclear arms.
"The Israeli army must be ready to launch a preventive strike if
this becomes necessary," he said. "The preemptive strike has always
been part of Israel's strategic options."
Mohammadi described Israel's comments as a "futile effort by the
Zionist regime to cover up its illegal nuclear activities and other
non-conventional weapons, and to continue its expansionist policies
against Moslems."
He defended Iran's pursuit of modern weapons "which are not in
violation of international conventions, to which we are committed."
"We have a definite right to use these weapons to defend our
integrity and confront the Zionist regime's expansionist policies,"
he said.
The Israeli general had voiced concern that "the arming of an
extremist country like Iran with long-range missiles capable of
carrying non-conventional weapons could in the long-term represent
an existential threat for Israel."
His statement came after Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani
warned in an interview Sunday that Iran would retaliate if Israel
struck at its nuclear reactors or other targets.
Israeli concerns over Iran's arms programs jumped at the weekend
after Tehran displayed in a military parade its latest missile, the
Shahab-3, which is capable of reaching Israel.
Israeli military officials say they expect the Shahab-3 to be
operational next year and fear Iran will then quickly develop a
Shahab-4 capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
A former Israeli general and member of parliament for the
opposition Labor Party, Ephraim Sneh, set the debate off Sunday by
calling for a "conventional Israeli preventive strike against Iran
before it develops atomic missiles or bombs."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not go as far, but warned
that Israel "will not sit back with our arms crossed in the face of
the very serious strategic threat which Iranian missiles pose to
Last week, Iran sharply criticized the United States for
delivering to Israel F-15I fighter planes, which are capable of
attacking Iran or Iraq.


Date: Thu, 1 Oct 1998 22:40:01 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran suspends pro-Khatami weekly newspaper

TEHRAN, Oct 1 (AFP) - Iranian authorities have temporarily
closed an Islamic leftist newspaper, accusing it of publishing lies
and acting against national security, another newspaper reported
Navid-e-Esfahan, a weekly newspaper published in the central
city of Esfahan, was accused of "acting against the country's
security, publishing lies and disturbing public opinion as well as
promoting opposition groups," Salam newspaper reported.
The decision was made by a special court for the clergy because
the paper was run by a cleric, Fazlollah Salavati, who was also
summoned to the court.
The court has forwarded the case to another court specializing
on press affairs for further examination.
The closure of the weekly came amid a crackdown on publications
supportive of the moderate President Mohammad Khatami, which have
been accused of being un-Islamic and pro-Western.
A Tehran court on Monday banned a monthly magazine for allegedly
insulting the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah
Ruhollah Khomeini.
The editor-in-chief of Jameh Salem (Healthy Society), Siavosh
Gouran, was sentenced to a one-year jail term and fined three
million rials (1,000 dollars).
However, the jail term was suspended for five years after Gouran
said the article was published without his knowledge due to his
"poor eyesight."
In mid-September, the daily newspaper Toos, which had gained
popularity among the young and intellectuals, was shut down by the
security forces and its editorial staff arrested.
IRNA reported last week that Toos was shut down because of an
interview with former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing in
which he claimed Khomeini had sought and been granted political
asylum when he went to France before the Islamic Revolution in


Date: Thu, 1 Oct 1998 22:38:57 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Two Bahais sentenced to death in Iran

TORONTO, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- An Iranian religious court is reported to
have sentenced another two Bahais to death, bringing to six the total
number now facing execution in that country.
Gerald Filson, a spokesman for the Bahai Community of Canada, said
today an Islamic court in Iran sentenced to death Sirus Zabihi-Moghaddam
and Hedayat-Kashefi Najafabadi, early this week.
He says two were arrested on Nov. 17, 1997, after resisting pressure
to stop organizing family meetings among the Bahai community, and were
charged with converting a Muslim woman to the Bahai faith.
Filson told United Press International the court also sentenced
Ataollah Hamid Nasirizadeh, another Bahai, to 10 years in prison.
The three were tried on the premises of a prison in Mashad, some 500
miles (800 km) east of Tehran, and family members were not allowed to
attend. Court officials informed the families verbally of the sentences.
On July 21, Bahai prisoner Ruhollah Rowhani was hanged after the
religious court sentenced him to death for converting the same woman to
the Bahai faith. The woman denied the allegation, saying she was brought
up as a Bahai.
Rowhani's execution raised a storm of protests from governments
around the world, and Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy issued a
strongly-worded statement denouncing the execution.
Axworthy also asked Iran for assurances that the other Bahais
arrested with Rowhani would be protected.
In a letter to the Bahai Community of Canada early this month,
Axworthy said he had ``not received a satisfactory response'' from the
Iranian authorities.
Filson says the Supreme Court had not confirmed Rowhani's sentence,
but he was executed anyway.


Date: Thu, 1 Oct 1998 22:40:33 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: 27 Bahais arrested in Iran

TORONTO, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Iranian authorities are reported to have
arrested at least 27 Bahais, in the latest crackdown against the largest
religious minority group in that country.
Gerald Filson, a spokesman for the Bahai Community of Canada, says
word of the crackdown filtered down today to members of the community in
other parts of the Middle East.
Details of the arrests were not immediately available, but the report
comes after an Islamic court in Iran sentenced two more Bahais to death
this week, after finding them guilty of converting a Muslim woman to the
Bahai faith.
The woman has denied the allegation, saying she was brought up as a
The latest death sentences, handed down in Mashad, some 500 miles
(800 km) east of Tehran, brings to six the total number of Bahais facing
execution in Iran.
On July 21, Iranian religious authorities executed Bahai prisoner
Ruhollah Rowhani, after an Islamic court found him guilty of converting
the same woman to the Bahai faith.
The Supreme Court of Iran had refused to endorse the sentence, but
Rowhani was hanged anyway.
There are some 300,000 Bahais in Iran, making them the largest
religious minority in the Islamic state, which does not officially
recognize them as a minority group.


Date: Thu, 1 Oct 1998 22:43:22 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Afghan-Iran standoff hits border trade

Afghan-Iran standoff hits border trade 07:33 a.m. Sep 30, 1998 Eastern

QUETTA, Pakistan, Sept 30 (Reuters) - The military standoff between Iran
and Afghanistan's Taleban Islamic militia has caused a suspension of
border trade between the two countries for the last month and a half,
trade sources said.

Traders in Quetta, capital of Pakistan's Baluchistan province, said the
Taleban were losing thousands of dollars each day due to lost trade at
the border with Iran where Tehran has massed more than 270,000 troops
for military exercises.

The land routes between Afghanistan and Iran were used for the trade of
electronics, fuel, vehicles and scores of items of personal use that
were bought from the United Arab Emirates and sent to neighbouring
countries including Pakistan, traders say.

They said the situation may also cause fuel shortages in Afghanistan
which imported its fuel from Iran. Tehran posted its military on the
border after the killings of nine Iranian diplomats by renegade Taleban
fighters in Mazar-i-Sharif last month.

Traders in the United Arab Emirates who had a booming re-export business
to Afghanistan have also been badly hit by the Iran-Afghan crisis,
traders said. Hundreds of containers are reported to be stranded at the
Iranian Gulf port of Bandar Abbas.

Re-export to Afghanistan through Iran amounts to nearly 20 per cent of
the total business of Dubai traders and last year the re-exports grew
steadily due to the reopening of a transit route via Pakistan.

Traders say the new crisis has come at a time when they expected the
trade to flourish after the end of uncertainties sparked by the closure
of the border last year by Iran.

Traders say no fresh consignments of motor vehicles and electrical
appliances have reached the border town of Chaman, 120 km (75 miles)
north-west of Quetta due to the crisis resulting in the rise of prices

The closure will not affect revenue collection in Pakistan as most of
these goods are smuggled and range from cosmetics to four-wheel luxury

Smuggling costs the Pakistani economy between $500 million and $2.0
billion annually, according to unofficial estimates.

Taleban officials say the decision by Iran to close the trade route of
Islam Qila with Afghanistan means the militia is losing thousands of
dollars in taxes on imports of different items which are re-exported to
neighbouring countries.

Analysts said the Iranian troop concentration on the Afghan border could
also affect a lucrative drug trade from Afghanistan and the smuggling of
cheap state-subsidised fuel, wheat, and medicine from Iran.

Iran is a key transit route for drugs smuggled from Afghanistan and
Pakistan via Turkey to Europe and to Gulf Arab states.


Date: Thu, 1 Oct 1998 22:43:55 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: PRESS DIGEST - Iran - Sept 30

PRESS DIGEST - Iran - Sept 30 04:00 a.m. Sep 30, 1998 Eastern

TEHRAN, Sept 30 (Reuters) - These are some of the leading stories in
Iranian newspapers on Wednesday. Reuters has not verified these stories
and does not vouch for their accuracy.


- President Mohammad Khatami defended his notion of a ``civil society''
and the coexistence of religion and freedom of thought.


- Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister Ataollah Mohajerani appeared
before parliament on Tuesday to account for his performance regarding
the press. Mohajerani said he would not revise his ministry's policy of
defending press freedom.


- Iraq handed over to Iran the remains of 111 Iranian soldiers killed in
the 1980-88 war between the two countries.


- Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said Iran would not hold talks with
the United States unless the latter changed its ``anti-Iran positions.''


- President Mohammad Khatami is due to open the Tehran International
Trade Fair on Thursday. Some 73 countries are taking part in the fair.


- Domestic air fares are expected to be increased by 25 to 30 percent as
of October 7.


- A visiting delegation from the United Nations Drug Control Programme
arrived in the northeastern city of Mashhad to inspect fortifications
built on the Afghan border to prevent the smuggling of drugs into Iran.


- Interior Minister Abdolvahed Mousavi-Lari called on the police not to
support any political faction.


Date: Thu, 1 Oct 1998 22:44:26 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Pledge on Rushdie clears obstacle in Iran ties-EU

Pledge on Rushdie clears obstacle in Iran ties-EU 04:40 a.m. Sep 29,
1998 Eastern

BRUSSELS, Sept 29 (Reuters) - The European Union has said that Iran's
assurances that it would not threaten British writer Salman Rushdie's
life cleared an obstacle to better relations between Iran and the
15-nation bloc.

Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi gave assurances last week that
his government would take no action whatsoever to threaten the life of
the author of ``The Satanic Verses'' or anybody associated with his

The assurance, offered more than nine years after the late revolutionary
leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini condemned Rushdie to death for
blaspheming Islam, enabled Britain and Iran to seal an agreement to
restore full diplomatic relations.

In a statement issued on Monday night by Austria, the current holder of
the bloc's rotating presidency, the EU welcomed Iran's pledge on

``The European Union has long sought satisfactory assurances in that
respect and considers them a very positive step by the government of the
Islamic Republic of Iran...,'' it said.

It added that the move ``removes an impediment to better relations
between the European Union and Iran and enhances the prospects of closer
cooperation to be discussed through the renewed dialogue.''

In January, the EU lifted a ban on contacts with Iran after a thaw in
relations under reformist President Mohammad Khatami. Senior EU
diplomats held talks in Iran in July in what EU officials called the
start of a gradual improvement in ties.

Despite its assurances, the Iranian government says it cannot rescind
Khomeini's fatwa, or religious order. Iran's media reported on Monday
that three senior Iranian clerics have called on Moslems to kill


Date: Thu, 1 Oct 1998 22:45:52 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Moslems' Duty To Kill Rushdie -Iran Clerics

Moslems' Duty To Kill Rushdie -Iran Clerics 12:41 p.m. Sep 28, 1998

By Barry May

TEHRAN, Iran (Reuters) - Three senior Iranian clerics have called on
Moslems to kill Salman Rushdie, days after Iran and Britain said they
had resolved a dispute over a death order against the British author,
Iran's media reported Monday.

Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Fazel Lankarani, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Nouri
Hamedani and Ayatollah Hossein Mazaheri said in separate statements that
the fatwa, or religious ruling, condemning Rushdie to death was
irrevocable and that it was the duty of world Moslems to carry it out,
the media reports said.

The calls came as hardliners opposed to the moderate government of
President Mohammad Khatami appeared to be mounting a backlash against
the deal intended to remove the last obstacle to normal diplomatic
relations between Britain and Iran.

Iran said it would not send anyone to carry out the fatwa condemning
Rushdie to death for alleged blasphemy against Islam in his novel ``The
Satanic Verses.'' Britain, for its part, dissociated itself from the
book and its contents.

Both countries agreed in announcements made in New York Thursday to
upgrade their relations to the level of ambassador.

But hardliners have made clear that Rushdie, who has lived under armed
British police protection from the death threat for nearly 10 years, is
not safe and cannot drop his guard.

They say that despite the deal the fatwa remains in place because only
the person who issued it, the father of the Islamic revolution Ayatollah
Ruhollah Khomeini, can revoke it and he died a few months later in 1989.

The Iranian foundation which offered a $2.5 million reward to anyone who
killed Rushdie has not withdrawn the bounty.

Although the government publicly distanced itself from the fatwa,
Iranian officials have been at pains to reiterate that it cannot be
revoked and Iran has not given in to British demands for a written
Iranian government guarantee of Rushdie's safety.

Hardline newspapers, including the influential Kayhan, have said the
government should carry out the fatwa and kill Rushdie.

Grand Ayatollah Lankarani, quoted by the hardline daily Jomhuri Eslami
Monday, said: ``This fatwa is by no means revocable or changeable and it
is the duty of all Moslems of the world to carry it out.''

``If the respected government of the Islamic Republic does not intend to
participate in carrying out the fatwa, it should nevertheless be among
the front ranks supporting the fatwa.

``Salman Rushdie's book is indeed the British government's book, since
this sinister person has confessed that all of the chapters of his book
have been guided by the government,'' said Lankarani, one of Iran's
highest-ranking Shi'ite Moslem clerics.

Another hardline conservative daily, Qods, said Grand Ayatollah Nouri
Hamedani, also stressed that the fatwa should be implemented.

Ayatollah Mazaheri, the representative of Iranian supreme leader
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the central city of Isfahan, issued a similar
call, the official news agency IRNA reported.

``The execution of the divine death sentence against him (Rushdie)
remains a duty until the day of resurrection, which should be carried
out by all world Moslems,'' IRNA quoted Mazaheri as saying.

Jomhuri Eslami criticised the government of Iran for distancing itself
from the fatwa and thus from the people and the whole body of the
Islamic world.

``How is it conceivable that Moslem nations are responsible (for
carrying out the fatwa) but Islamic governments simply step aside and
witness insults against Islamic sanctities?

``Is the promotion of our ties with a second rate country (Britain)
worth taking such positions?'' the newspaper said.

Despite the hardliners' criticism, Iranian analysts said it was highly
unlikely that the deal with Britain had been agreed without the approval
of supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

Khamenei, who is widely believed to be closer to the conservatives, has
the final say on matters of state, including foreign policy.

The Islamic leftist daily Salam, which supports Khatami, hailed the deal
with Britain as a victory resulting from the president's election last

``Iran succeeded in forcing Britain to change its position without
giving in to Britain's demand for the cancellation of the fatwa and a
written guarantee not to kill Salman Rushdie,'' it said.


End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 30 Sep 1998 to 1 Oct 1998