Exclusive: Photo shows Iran’s Ahmadinejad as hostage-taker

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Exclusive: Photo shows Iran’s Ahmadinejad as hostage-taker

Postby alimostofi » Wed Jun 29, 2005 3:03 am

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Postby IPC » Thu Jun 30, 2005 6:32 am

Ex-Hostages Say New Iranian Leader Was a Captor
Official Denies President-Elect Participated in Embassy Siege
By RUSS BYNUM, AP

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Ex Hostage Taker, Today's President: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

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Former hostage William Daugherty, a retired CIA staff officer, says "it's impossible to forget a guy like that."


SAVANNAH, Ga. (June 30) - A quarter-century after they were taken captive in Iran, five former American hostages say they got an unexpected reminder of their 444-day ordeal in the bearded face of Iran's new president-elect. Watching coverage of Iran's presidential election on television dredged up 25-year-old memories that prompted four of the former hostages to exchange e-mails. And those four realized they shared the same conclusion - the firm belief that President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been one of their Iranian captors.

"This is the guy. There's no question about it,'' said former hostage Chuck Scott, a retired Army colonel who lives in Jonesboro, Ga. "You could make him a blond and shave his whiskers, put him in a zoot suit and I'd still spot him.''

Scott and former hostages David Roeder, William J. Daugherty and Don A. Sharer told The Associated Press on Wednesday they have no doubt Ahmadinejad, 49, was one of the hostage-takers. A fifth ex-hostage, Kevin Hermening, said he reached the same conclusion after looking at photos.

Not everyone agrees. Former hostage and retired Air Force Col. Thomas E. Schaefer, of Peoria, Ariz., said he doesn't recognize Ahmadinejad, by face or name, as one of his captors.

Several former students among the hostage-takers also said Ahmadinejad did not participate. And a close aide to Ahmadinejad denied the president-elect took part in the seizure of the embassy or in holding Americans hostage.

Militant students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on Nov. 4, 1979, and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days to protest Washington's refusal to hand over the U.S.-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi for trial. The shah fled Iran earlier that year after he was overthrown by the Islamic Revolution.

The aide, Meisan Rowhani, told the AP from Tehran that Ahmadinejad was asked during recent private meetings if he had a role in the hostage taking. Rowhani said he replied, "No. I believed that if we do that the world will swallow us.''

Another former hostage, Paul Lewis, said he thought Ahmadinejad looked vaguely familiar when he saw a picture of him on the news last week, but the former Marine embassy guard said he could not be certain.

"My memories were more of the gun barrel, not the people behind it,'' said Lewis, who lives in the central Illinois town of Sidney.

Ex-hostage Alan Golacinski also said he couldn't be certain.

"I can't identify this individual as one of my interrogators because I was blindfolded during all of my interrogations,'' said Golacinski, who was an embassy security officer. However, Golacinski said, "He did look somewhat familiar.''

Scott and Roeder both said they were sure Ahmadinejad was present while they were interrogated.

"I can absolutely guarantee you he was not only one of the hostage-takers, he was present at my personal interrogation,'' Roeder said in an interview from his home in Pinehurst, N.C.

Daugherty, who worked for the CIA in Iran and now lives in Savannah, said a man he's convinced was Ahmadinejad was among a group of ringleaders escorting a Vatican representative during a visit in the early days of the hostage crisis.

"It's impossible to forget a guy like that,'' Daugherty said. "Clearly the way he acted, the fact he gave orders, that he was older, most certainly he was one of the ringleaders.''

Ahmadinejad, the hard-line mayor of Tehran, was declared winner Wednesday of Iran's presidential runoff election, defeating one of Iran's best-known statesmen, Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani. The stunning upset put conservatives firmly in control of all branches of power in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Scott, Roeder, Daugherty and Sharer said they have been exchanging e-mails since seeing Ahmadinejad emerge as a serious contender in Iran's elections.

"He was extremely cruel,'' said Sharer, of Bedford, Ind. "He's one of the hard-liners. So that tells you where their government's going to stand for the next four to five years.''

After seeing recent newspaper photos, Sharer said, "I don't have any doubts'' that Ahmadinejad was a hostage-taker.

A memory expert cautioned that people who discuss their recollections can influence one another in reinforcing false memories. Also, it's harder to identify from memory someone of a different race or ethnicity, said psychologist Elizabeth Loftus of the University of California, Irvine.

"Twenty-five years is an awfully long time,'' Loftus said. "Of course we can't say this is false, but these things can lead people down the path of having a false memory.''

Scott gave a detailed account of the man he recalled as Ahmadinejad, saying he appeared to be a security chief among the hostage-takers.

"He kind of stayed in the background most of the time,'' Scott said. "But he was in on some of the interrogations. And he was in on my interrogation at the time they were working me over.''

Scott also recalled an incident while he was held in the Evin prison in north Tehran in the summer of 1980.

One of the guards, whom Scott called Akbar, would sometimes let Scott and Sharer out to walk the narrow, 20-foot hallway outside their cells, he said. One day, Scott said, the man he believes was Ahmadinejad saw them walking and chastised the guard.

"He was the security chief, supposedly,'' Scott said. "When he found out Akbar had let us out of our cells at all, he chewed out Akbar. I speak Farsi. He said, `These guys are dogs, they're pigs, they're animals. They don't deserve to be let out of their cells.'''

Scott recalled responding to the man's stare by openly cursing his captor in Farsi. "He looked a little flustered like he didn't know what to do. He just walked out.''

Roeder said he's sure Ahmadinejad was present during one of his interrogations when the hostage-takers threatened to kidnap his son in the United States and "start sending pieces - toes and fingers of my son - to my wife.''

"It was almost like he was checking on the interrogation techniques they were using in a sort of adviser capacity,'' Roeder said.

Hermening, of Mosinee, Wis., the youngest of the hostages, said that after he looked at photos and did research on the Internet, he came to the conclusion that Ahmadinejad was one of his questioners.

Hermening had been Marine guard at the embassy, and he recalled the man he believes was Ahmadinejad asking him for the combination to a safe.

"His English would have been fairly strong. I couldn't say that about all the guards,'' Hermening said. "I remember that he was certainly direct, threatening, very unfriendly.''

Rowhani, the aide to Ahmadinejad, said Ahmadinejad said during the recent meeting that he stopped opposing the embassy seizure after the revolution's leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, expressed support for it. But the president-elect said he never took part.

"Definitely he was not among the students who took part in the seizure,'' said Abbas Abdi, the leader of the hostage-takers. Abdi has since become a leading supporter of reform and sharply opposed Ahmadinejad. "He was not part of us. He played no role in the seizure, let alone being responsible for security'' for the students.

Another of the hostage-takers, Bijan Abidi, said Ahmadinejad "was not involved. There was no one by that name among the students who took part in the U.S. Embassy seizure.''

Associated Press writers Aaron Beard in Raleigh, N.C., Amanda Keim in Phoenix, Deanna Wrenn in Indianapolis, Robert Imrie in Wausau, Wis., and Anna Johnson in Chicago contributed to this report.
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Postby IPC » Thu Jun 30, 2005 6:36 am

AP Photo shows Iran’s new President as 1979 US hostage-taker
Wed. 29 Jun 2005
AP - IranFocus

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Ahmadinejad was a member of the the central council of the Office for Strengthening of Unity Between Universities and Theological Seminaries, a major pro-Khomeini student union. OSU sources say Ahmadinejad headed the security force for the hostage takers during the crisis.

London, Jun. 29 - Iran Focus has learnt that the photograph of Iran’s newly-elected president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, holding the arm of a blindfolded American hostage on the premises of the United States embassy in Tehran was taken by an Associated Press photographer in November 1979.

Prior to the first round of the presidential elections on June 17, Iran Focus was the first news service to reveal Ahmadinejad’s role in the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

The identity of Ahmadinejad in the photograph was revealed to Iran Focus by a source in Tehran, whose identity could not be revealed for fear of persecution.

Soon after the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Ahmadinejad, who was studying in Tehran’s University of Science and Technology, became a member of the central council of the Office for Strengthening of Unity Between Universities and Theological Seminaries, the main pro-Khomeini student body.

The OSU played a central role in the seizure of the United States embassy in Tehran in November 1979. Members of the OSU central council, who included Ahmadinejad as well as Ibrahim Asgharzadeh, Mohsen Mirdamadi, Mohsen Kadivar, Hashem Aghajari, and Abbas Abdi, were regularly received by Khomeini himself.

Former OSU officials involved in the takeover of the U.S. embassy said Ahmadinejad was in charge of security during the occupation, a key role that put him in direct contact with the nascent security organizations of the clerical regime and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, which he later joined.

After the 444-day occupation of the U.S. embassy, Ahmadinejad joined the special forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office, based in Evin Prison. The “Revolutionary Prosecutorâ€
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Postby IPC » Thu Jun 30, 2005 6:37 am

Photo 'shows Iran President with US hostage'
By Sam Knight, Times Online

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Opponents claim that the man with a US hostage is the new Iran President-elect, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; (right) Mr Ahmadinejad after his election

A photo has emerged which it is claimed links the President-elect of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, with the taking of 60 American hostages during the US embassy siege in Tehran in 1979.

A London-based Iranian news agency which opposes Mr Ahmadinejad is circulating the photograph, which it says was taken by the Associated Press news agency on the first day of the hostage crisis.

In the picture, a man which the Iran Focus agency claims it has identified as Mr Ahmadinejad, is seen holding the arm of a blindfolded US hostage.

The possible role of Mr Ahmadinejad in the embassy takeover, which lasted 444 days and remains a significant sore between America and Iran, came to light in the run-up to the presidential elections on June 17.

Mr Ahmadinejad is known to have been member of the "Office for Strengthening of Unity Between Universities and Theological Seminaries" or the OSU, the main student group behind the takeover, but his precise role in the hostage-taking was unclear.

Yesterday, in an article on the BBC website, the broadcaster John Simpson appeared to pour fuel on the controversy when he said he recalled meeting Mr Ahmadinejad after the hostage crisis and remembered seeing him in the grounds of the embassy.

"When I read a profile of him in the English-language Tehran Times, I realised where I must have seen him: in the former American embassy in Tehran," writes Mr Simpson.

"Ahmadinejad was a founder of the group of young activists who swarmed over the embassy wall and held the diplomats and embassy workers hostage for 444 days."

And today, Mo Jazayeri, the executive editor of Iran Focus, the agency distributing the picture, was adamant that it showed Mr Ahmadinejad. He said: "We strongly believe it was 4 Nov 1979, the first day of the hosting taking in Tehran. The AP took these photos. There is also apparently footage which shows Ahmadinejad and several other hostage takers taking this hostage out of the compound and bringing him in front of the crowd which chants ‘Death to America.’ It was a very horrific scene which was shown on television outside Iran worldwide."

According to Michael Theodoulou, who covers Middle East affairs for The Times, the photograph, if genuine, could have a damaging effect on Mr Ahmadinejad's relationship with America, which is already expected to be fractious.

"These images will really anger the Americans," he told Times Online. "Britain is never really aware of the impact the hostage crisis had on the American pysche. No other foreign crisis had the same effect. It really formed the image of Iran in America and is a real source of the continuing hostility between the two countries."

But the claims have been strongly denied by Mr Ahmadinejad's office, which says that the man in the image is not him. Other hostage-takers who were present at the embassy siege also say that the President-elect was not involved in the storming of the embassy.

Ramita Navai, correspondent for The Times in Tehran, spoke to Abbas Abdi, one of the leading hostage takers, who has recently been released from prison, this morning. She said: "I spoke to Abbas Abdi today and he said that Ahmadinejad didn't storm the embassy. And he also said: 'Look, a lot of people came in and out of the embassy during the crisis. It went on for more than a year'."

Ms Navai said that so many of the students involved in the hostage crisis went on to become politicians that there is no reason why Mr Ahmadinejad would disguise his role in the siege.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0, ... 38,00.html
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