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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (courtesy Radio Netherlands)
WASHINGTON – Iranian President Mahmood Ahmadinejad has been identified by at least six U.S. hostages as a ringleader in the 1979 U.S. Embassy takeover.
He has been identified by former Iranian President Bani Sadr as Ayatollah Khomeini’s liaison with the hostage takers.
He stands accused of the murder of a Kurdish leader in Vienna by officials in Austria who say they have compelling evidence and want an arrest warrant sworn for him
And, as mayor of Tehran, he was one of the principal forces behind a campaign to recruit and train suicide bombers throughout the country.
Nevertheless, he will be welcomed into the United States next month to attend the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
Officially, the U.S. investigation of the hostage allegations remains open. But, unofficially, the White House and State Department are making it clear they would rather not know the truth about Ahmadinejad because it would place the U.S. in a position of refusing to permit a head of government into the country to attend a U.N. meeting.
One official said such a finding would enormously complicate” matters.
U.S. “investigators” never bothered to interview any of the former hostages who made the charges against Ahmadinejad.
Perhaps the most damning evidence against Ahmadinejad with regard to the hostage-taking came from Sadr, Iran’s president during the early days of the Khomeini revolution.
He has adamantly affirmed Ahmadinejad was one of the kidnappers who held 52 Americans for 444 days. He said the former student leader was in the embassy throughout the hostage crisis.
“Ayatollah Khomeini’s deputy, Ayatollah Khamenai, demanded of him a constant report on what is happening in the embassy,” he said.
When told Ahmadinejad denied the accusation, Sadr laughed.
“What do you want?” he said. “That he should not deny it? I was president and I know the details and I am telling you for sure that he was there, though his role was not organizational. He was the chief reporter to Khamenai.”
Sadr added that Ahmadinejad initially opposed the hostage-taking but changed his mind once Khomeini gave his support.
At least six former American hostages agree that the new president of Iran played a key role in interrogating and abusing them.
Chuck Scott characterized his tormentor as “cold, hard-nosed” and said his memory is solid, “as sure as I’m sitting here.”
“If you went through a traumatic experience like that and you were around people who made it possible, you’re never going to forget them,” said Scott, a 73-year-old retired U.S. Army colonel.
Scott said he recognized him almost instantly during the publicity surrounding his election in June, when he shocked the world by winning in an upset.
Former hostage Don Sharer identified Ahmadinejad as a student leader who called Americans “pigs and dogs.”
Ahmadinejad acknowledges membership in the radical student organization that stormed the embassy when he was 23.
“He was in the background, like an adviser,” recalled Sharer, a former U.S. Navy officer. “He called us pigs and dogs and said we deserved to be locked up forever.”
Scott called him “a leader, what I would call a hard-a–. Even the other guards said he was very strict.”
“The new president of Iran is a terrorist,” said Scott.
Sharer said Ahmadinejad was an interrogator and remembers being personally grilled by him.
“He was involved in interrogating me the day we were taken captive,” said former Marine security guard Kevin Hermening. “There is absolutely no reason the United States should be trying to normalize relations with a man who seems intent on trying to force-feed the world with state-sponsored terrorism.”
William Daugherty, another former hostage, concurs that Ahmadinejad was there. He claims he saw him eight to 10 times in the first 19 days of captivity before the hostages were separated into smaller groups.
“As soon as I saw the face, it rang a lot of bells to me and it was a recent picture, but he still looks like a man, take 20 years off of him, he was there. He was there in the background.”
David Roeder, the embassy’s former deputy Air Force attache, also said Ahmadinejad was present during one of his interrogations.
“It was almost like he was checking on the interrogation techniques they were using in a sort of adviser capacity,” Roeder said.
Sharer added: “He was extremely cruel. He is one of the hardliners, so that tells you what their government is going to stand for in the next four to five years.”
Ahmadinejad trounced Hashemi Rafsanjani in a runoff vote June 24 in a development that shocked the world. He is a veteran of the Revolutionary Guards. He was founder of the Office for Strengthening Unity Between Universities and Theological Seminaries, the group that organized the storming of the embassy.
But even more serious charges have arisen against Ahmadinejad since his election.
A Kurdish leader in Vienna, along with elected officials in Austria, say he was directly involved in the conspiracy to assassinate another Kurdish rebel leader, Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou.
Charges against Ahmadinejad have been handed over to the public prosecutor’s office, according to Interior Ministry spokesman Rudolf Gollia.
Austrian MP Peter Pilz said he had “very convincing” evidence against Ahmadinejad in the 1989 murder. Gassemlou was shot dead with two other Kurdish activists.
Pilz said Ahmadinejad traveled to Vienna a week before the murders and delivered the weapons used to the Iranian embassy. The assassins were never caught. Pilz said he wants a warrant issued for the Iranian president’s arrest.
While U.S. officials seem willing to overlook the hostage taking in 1979 and U.N. officials are apparently willing to overlook the 1989 assassination, Ahmadinejad was involved in organizing massive terrorist recruitment and training throughout Iran within the last year.
Last summer, the weekly publication of the Iranian Ansar-e Hizballah published an extensive report on a meeting of the General Staff for Glorification of Martyrs of the Global Islamic Campaign to recruit “martyrdom seekers” – or suicide bombers.
Over the last year, the group boasts of recruiting and training 40,000 “shahids” to attack U.S., Israeli and United Kingdom targets.
And Ahmadinejad has made no secret of his role in fostering and sponsoring suicide bombers in his own country. He made at least two television appearances in Iran after his election victory in which he spoke in praise of “the art of martyrdom.”
In his July 25 segment on Iranian Channel 1, he praised martyrdom operations and declared Islam will conquer the world.
Referring to martyrdom, he said, “We want art that is on the offensive. Art on the offensive exalts and defends the noble principles, and attacks principles that are corrupt, vulgar, ungodly, and inhuman.”
The president-elect declared, “Art reaches perfection when it portrays the best life and best death. After all, art tells you how to live. That is the essence of art. Is there art that is more beautiful, more divine, and more eternal than the art of martyrdom? A nation with martyrdom knows no captivity. Those who wish to undermine this principle undermine the foundations of our independence and national security. They undermine the foundation of our eternity.”
Ahmadinejad added, “The message of the [Islamic] revolution is global and is not restricted to a specific place or time. It is a human message, and it will move forward. Have no doubt … Allah willing, Islam will conquer what? It will conquer all the mountain tops of the world.”
This article first appeared Aug. 12 in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, the premium, online, intelligence newsletter edited by the founder of WND.