The new Iranian regime, headed by President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, is promoting martyrdom (Shehada). In his second TV appearance following his election, Ahmadi-Nejad praised "the art of martyrdom."(To view this clip, visit http://memritv.org/clip/en/782.htm.)
The call to enlist and carry out suicide attacks was sounded also by Ayatollah Mohammad-Taqi Misbah-e Yazdi (who is Ahmadi-Nejad's religious mentor and one of the most prominent religious figures in conservative circles, especially among Iran's security forces) in his weekly Partow-e Sokhan. 
Mohammad-Reza Ja'afari, commander of the "Seekers of Martyrdom Command," stressed the origins of Shehada in Shi'ite tradition and what he called its vital role today in the confrontation with Iran's enemies, in a speech cited in Partow-e Sokhan in early August.Following Ayatollah Misbah-e Yazdi's recruiting call for martyrs – a call that aroused criticism in Iran and beyond its borders – Partow-e Sokhan published an extensive interview with Ja'afari, titled "Establishing Quick Response [Martyrdom] Forces to Deal with the American and Israeli Threat."
Ja'afari stressed that "the yearning for martyrdom has been and will remain part of our tactics… In order to cope with [the Israeli] danger, there is a need for a culture, and an epic [of martyrdom]." He undertook to "cooperate with anyone who helps us create and strengthen this culture, and to use all the potential of the Islamic world to implement this spirit [of martyrdom]." He quoted Iranian Leader Ali Khamenei saying that, "Martyrdom operations are the pinnacle of a people's strength and the pinnacle of an epic' and wanted Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini saying that "Israel – that suppurating tumor – must be eradicated from the pages of history." Ja'afari added that "to deal with [American and Israeli] threats, we have created quick response forces, in order to use them against every possible enemy threat. Forces like these are established in other countries, and even in America, and in NATO [countries]. What will put this potential into action is the spirit of martyrdom. The enemy fears this culture turning into a world culture…. So far, forces have been formed in several provinces…nearly 50,000 people have been registered and organized… The first blow we strike at the enemy will be the final blow, that will obliterate it."
Partow-e Sokhan is published in the city of Qom, which is a religious center, and is registered in the name of the "Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute," which is headed by Ayatollah Misbah-e Yazdi. It is noteworthy that the weekly's internet site is hosted in the U.S. and Germany.
The following are excerpts from Ja'afari's August 3, 2005 speech, delivered on the anniversary of a 1988 Iranian military operation against the Mojahedin-e Khalq forces,and excerpts from Ja'afari's interview with Partow-e Sokhan:
Ja'afari's Speech (August 3, 2005)
"The yearning for martyrdom has been and will remain part of our tactics. The Islamic school of thought has taught us to use the power of faith, of authority, and of our worldview against oppression and the oppressor. Any threat against the Muslims will entail our response, in a confrontation between unequal [forces] by means of martyrdom operations...
"Those who wish to destroy the Muslims' honored status, independence, and honor by means of their advanced weaponry must know this important point: In defending the Islamic region, our weapon and technology against them is the weapon of martyrdom, and today we are equipped with this tactic...
"The martyrdom operations began with … the initiative of the Imam 'Ali, and reached their apex with the Imam Hossein, on the day of the 'Ashura. In our times, such operations were supported by the Imam Khomeini and by the honorable Leader [Ali Khamenei]... When Imam [Khomeini] says 'Israel must be eradicated from the pages of history,' or the honorable Leader [Khamenei] says 'Everyone must help the Palestinian cause in every way and by every means at his disposal,' a duty is [thereby] formed, and we are religiously obligated to perform this duty, and there is no other way to accomplish this important matter except martyrdom operations...
"The honorable Leader [Khamenei] made his renowned statement, 'Martyrdom operations are the pinnacle of a people's strength and the pinnacle of an epic.' By this, he supports these kinds of operations… It is certain that the Imam 'Ali, the Imam Hossein, the Imam Khomeini, and the honorable Leader [Khamenei] based their above statements on verses from the Koran. In addition, the greatest man of science in the Islamic world, the honorable Ayatollah Misbah-e Yazdi, sees this approach [of martyrdom]as sacred, stresses the need for willingness to defend Islam, and sees it as the prelude to the appearance of the Hidden Imam [the Shi'ite messiah]. This can constitute an expert opinion on the issue … and also on the issue of society's current need [for martyrdom]. Therefore, there remains no room at all for doubting it…
"In the matter of nuclear technology, our senior officials are making do with the bare minimum – yet the superpowers deny us even this. This indicates that we have not yet managed to properly implement the policy of the Imam [Khomeini]… If this lack of initiative continues, and the useless traditional approach does not make way for bold and strong diplomacy that yearns for martyrdom, we will in the future encounter harsher measures by the Americans, the Europeans, and potential enemies."
Ja'afari's Interview (August 10, 2005)
"Following the publication of [Ayatollah Misbah-e Yazdi's] call for martyrdom in the Partow-e Sokhan weekly, a great uproar broke out against this magazine. Some of the people did this out of a sense of empathy, and claimed that under current conditions, now is not the time to raise these kinds of issues. Others responded to the call out of rebelliousness and ignorance, because they are, as a rule, against these issues, and see them as violence. In their view, instead of making such statements, we must smile at the enemy.
"In light of this, we deem it vital to talk with Mr. Mohammed Reza-Ja'afari, commander of the 'Seekers of Martyrdom Command' organization, in order to better understand the goals and the practical methods of martyrdom:…"
Question: "Following the publication of the call for martyrs in the Partow weekly, how many foreign news agencies and Iranian [news] websites took a coordinated stance against Partow and expressed their opinion? How do you explain these reactions?"
Ja'afari: […] "The publication of the call to recruit martyrdom-seeking forces in the [ideological] weekly Partow-e Sokhan was at the request of the 'Seekers of Martyrdom Command' organization, and it was published several times in this magazine. This announcement also appeared in other publications, and, according to the Majlis National Security Committee Director ['Ala A-Din Boroujerdi], this is a routine matter, and publications are free to publish announcements.
"The very fact that foreign news agencies and some of the Iranian [news] websites have taken a stand against this publication has proven beyond all doubt the honor, the identity, and the influence of the Partow-e Sokhan magazine – which acts comprehensively for Islamic values and for spreading the spirit of martyrdom, which are dear to the Koran, the Prophet [Muhammad], the Infallible Imams, the Imam [Khomeini], and the honorable Leader [Khamenei]. It has become clear that Partow-e Sokhan is a values-oriented revolutionary magazine, and is committed to the principles of Islam, and acts according to the laws of Islam. Therefore, the righteous employees of this magazine are to be congratulated for presenting this matter.
"[The opposition to this call stems from] the lack of knowledge about the wishes,the goals, and the strategies of the Islamic Republic [of Iran]. The Koran, the Prophet, the Infallible Imams, the Imam [Khomeini], the honorable Leader [Khamenei], the precious and great martyrs, and the constitution have clarified our role very well. How is it possible to accept that Israel can drown thousands of children, men, and women in their own blood in occupied Palestine, and make them refugees, but the Muslims do not have the right to publish even a single announcement of recruitment for expressing willingness for all-out defense of their country? This is the height of cowardice."
Question: "Please explain in detail the goal of the founding of this command, and how it complies with the laws of the Islamic Republic [of Iran]:"
Ja'afari: "First of all, I must say clearly that the martyrdom forces are authorized organizations. These apparatuses were formed by the dear public that promotes martyrs. The army, the Revolutionary Guards, the Basij, the various bodies and organizations, and the executive and judicial [leaders] can support [the 'Seekers of Martyrdom' Command], but we are not obligated at all to accept their support. The mere fact that the honorable Leader [Khamenei] made the statement, 'When the senior officials in the country make a decision, show courage, or undertake important measures, it is all done with the backing of the people,' means, or has meant, spiritual backing…
"Only in recent days the base and negative stances of Israel and of the president of America have shown that the strength of our belief has, more than anything else, caused them to become gripped by fear. This has reached the point where the president of America officially responded to the establishment of the martyrdom forces [by saying]: 'I am shocked at the establishment of the martyrdom forces.'
"The Americans and the Israelis are today in a position of total weakness. On the other hand, we must not, for even a moment, ignore the danger of Israel. We cannot remain indifferent with regard to the Palestinian cause. The honorable Leader [Khamenei] has said: 'Everyone must act by all means and in all ways for the cause of Palestine, and this is a duty.' He also said: 'Martyrdom operations are the pinnacle of a people's strength and the pinnacle of an epic.' Also, the Imam [Khomeini] said: 'Israel – that suppurating tumor – must be eradicated from the pages of history.'
"In order to cope with this danger, there is a need for a culture, and an epic. We planned and carried out [the founding] of a movement of seekers of martyrdom out of reliance on Allah, for Allah, and for the sake of implementing the wishes and goals of the Islamic Revolution. So far, this step has brought us great blessing. We will maintain contacts and cooperate with anyone who helps us create and strengthen this culture, and we will use all the potential of the Islamic world to implement this spirit.
"Second, the goal of establishing the 'Seekers of Martyrdom Command' organization is to form a quick-response force, in order to create the willingness amongst these forces to defend the country and Islam. This goal stems from the verses of the Koran. In light of the explicit command [of the Koranic verse that is also part of the motto of the Revolutionary Guards], 'Make ready your strength against them, to the utmost of your power' [Koran, 8:60], we see it as our duty to maintain, in every situation, forces that are ready to deal with the enemy's threats. We are a living people, and a people that is living must be capable of defending itself. In this context, the Imam [Khomeini] said: 'The Islamic land must be completely military.'
"It should be noted that the establishment of this organization came after the American and Israeli threats against the Islamic Republic [of Iran]. To deal with these threats, we have created quick response forces, in order to use them against every possible enemy threat. Forces like these are established in other countries, and even in America, and in NATO [countries]. What will put this potential into action is the spirit of martyrdom. The enemy fears this culture turning into a world culture. They are unaware that this approach is considered a fundamental tool for all seekers of freedom in the world…"
Question: "Do you have a modus operandi for dealing with the terrorist movements [against the Iranian regime and Islam]?"
Ja'afari: "Yes. I must point out that the sharp eyes of the experienced and well-briefed forces of the 'Seekers of Martyrdom Command' are following threatening issues, both inside and outside Iran. Accordingly, we are completely ready to cooperate with other responsible and relevant centers [in Iran] in order to prevent any terrorist operation and in order to locate and identify these elements in the country. All these operations are in the interest of the dear regime, revolution, and Islam…"
Question: "How many have registered so far for the martyrdom-seekers program, and how many forces have been organized?"
Ja'afari: "We thought about a martyrdom force for every province [in Iran]. So far, forces have been formed in several provinces, in order to express full willingness to defend [the country]. Nearly 50,000 people have been registered and organized. Thanks to Allah's grace, and in light of the loving and good response, it can be said that we have succeeded up to this stage.
"Also, in the future we want to have better plans, so that the entire people will be ready to defend itself against every enemy threat. In our view, recruiting, organizing, and good instruction are the prelude to good defense. Our approach is to improve the quality of these forces, so that the first blow we strike at the enemy will be the final blow, that will obliterate it."
See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 945, "Iran's New President Glorifies Martyrdom":
Ja'afari was referred to by the weekly as "general."
See also MEMRI Inquiry &Analysis No. 181, June 17, 2004,
The Internal Debate in Iran: How to Respond to Western Pressure Regarding Its Nuclear Program, and MEMRI SD No. 929, July 6, 2005,
It should be pointed out that the Headquarters for Seekers of Martyrdom appears to be a different organization from the World Islamic Organization's Headquarters for Remembering the Shahids, which is referred to in these documents.
hosted in Germany/US
Domain Name: partosokhan.ir
Legal Holder: partosokhan
The Imam Khomeini Education & Research Institute, Amin Blvd., Shahid Sani Khani St., I.R. Iran Tel:+98-0251-293-2328 Email: [email protected]
ISP: Schlund+Partner AG, United States, and Schlund+Partner AG, Brauerstrasse 48, D-76135, Karlsruhe, Germany.
IP address: 18.104.22.168
Partow-e Sokhan (Iran), August 3, 2005.
Partow-e Sokhan (Iran), August 10, 2005.