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ARMED IRAQI ISLAMIST GROUP ORDERS IRAN TO FREE IRAQI POW’S

Published Sunday, August 15, 2004



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TEHRAN, 15 Aug. (IPS) The Islamic Republic regarded as “suspicious” a menace by the Islamic Army of Iraq, threatening Sunday 15 August 2004 to “punish” and Iranian diplomat it kidnapped last week.

Mr. Fereydoun Jahani was abducted on 4 August 2004 while on his way to Karbala where he had to open Iran’s fist consulate in to the holy city, but the news of his abduction was released three days later by an Arabic satellite television and confirmed by the Iranians.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said the “identity of the group and the nature of its demand” -- that Iran release 500 prisoners allegedly held since the 1980-1988 War -- are “suspicious”.

According to the abductors, Mr. Jahani is an officer of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards sent to Iraq to create sectarian strife between Iraqi Shi’a and Sunnis.

"The case of the two countries’ prisoners of war has been closed and what still remains is the file of those missing in action", he said, referring to the threat by the Jeish-ol-Islam, or the Islamic Army of Iraq to “punish” Mr. Jahani within 48 hours if Iran did not release 500 prisoners captured in the former war, as reported by the Arabic satellite channel “Al-Alam”, the 24 hours Arabic language service of the Iranian Radio and Television Organisation.

According to the abductors, Mr. Jahani is an officer of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards sent to Iraq to create sectarian strife between Iraqi Shi’a and Sunnis.

Iran has strongly dismissed allegations of interference in Iraq, saying these were “without evidence” and an unnamed Iranian source has been quoted as saying that the group had acted in collaboration with the US Embassy in Iraq under direct supervision of US Ambassador John Negroponte.

Other sources said the abductors could be from the Mojahedeen Khalq Organisation acting under orders from the Americans in Iraq.

ARMED IRAQI ISLAMIST GROUP ORDERS IRAN TO FREE IRAQI POW’S-Body

The Baghdad-based, oulawed MKO used to serve as a tool for the imprisonned Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran, but it had been disarmed by the American forces after they occupied Iraq and recently, the group's members were granted the status of war prisoners.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran considers the interim Iraqi government responsible for the safety of Jahani and expects it to use all its means for his release", Asefi said, quoted by the official Iranian news agency IRNA.

An unnamed Iranian source accused that the group had acted under direct supervision of US Ambassador in Iraq John Negroponte.

"We have held various round of negotiations with the interim Iraqi government and all the groups which are thought to be able to help in this matter and this process still continues", he added.

The kidnapping followed the arrest of IRNA’s Baghdad bureau chief Mostafa Darban and two Iraqi staff, Mohammed Khafaji and Mohsen Madani.

Iranian officials say the fate of the fourth is still unaccounted for.

Iran twice summoned last week Iraq’s charge d’affairs to Tehran for explanation following the arrests and certain Iraqi officials” allegations against Iran.

Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said Saturday that the accusations, including by Iraqi Defence Minister Hazem al-Sha’lan, had been directed only at “unofficial figures” in Iran.

"We do not accuse the Iranian government of interference in Iraq’s domestic affairs", he told IRNA reporter in Najaf.

"We want establishment of good relations with neighbouring countries, especially Iran, and believe that our bilateral ties are based on common interests", Allawi said.

Iran’s State-owned, conservatives-controlled television also reported that four Iranians on a trip to promote trade ties between Tehran and Baghdad had been arrested by U.S. troops in Iraq.

Tehran’s relations with Baghdad clouded badly after Mr. Hazem Sha’lan, the Defence Minister labelled the Islamic Republic as Iraq’s “number one enemy” and the Interior Minister’s announcement of the arrest of four Iranian officers charges with “espionage”.

In response, Iranian press said Mr. Sha’lan is a “petty CIA informer” and accused him to obey orders from his “American masters”. ENDS JAHANI 15804

 

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As of January 2009, this site is definitely closed, but you can follow Safa Haeri on his new blog: DAMAVAND at http://wwwdamavandsafa.blogspot.com


ARMED IRAQI ISLAMIST GROUP ORDERS IRAN TO FREE IRAQI POW’S-Main
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