The Russian publication Kommersant has published a newly located photograph of a U.S. hostage-taker in Iran circa 1979 bearing a striking resemblance to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The Iranian leader has steadfastly denied he was involved in the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and the holding of 52 Americans for 444 days despite assertions to the contrary of some of those hostages and former Iranian President Abholhassan Bani-Sadr, who says he was a ringleader and the liaison with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Russian newspaper published photo, left, bearing striking resemblance to Iranian president
Charges by the ex-hostages were made shortly after Ahmadinejad came to power June 24, 2005. But from the beginning, the White House and State Department made 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 U.N. meetings.
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 the Iranian leader.
Perhaps the most damning evidence against Ahmadinejad with regard to the hostage-taking came from Bani-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 Khamenei, demanded of him a constant report on what is happening in the embassy,” he said.
When told Ahmadinejad denied the accusation, Bani-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 Khamenei.”
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 the 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.”
In addition to Bani-Sadr and the hostages, BBC correspondent John Simpson also recalled seeing Ahmadinejad on the embassy grounds, according to Middle East analyst Daniel Pipes.
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