April 9, 2013 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 957

Iranian Presidential Elections - Part I: Regime Escalates Intimidation Of Citizens, Demands Cooperation With Security Apparatuses

April 9, 2013 | By A. Savyon and Yossi Mansharof*
Iran | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 957


For several months, the mouthpieces of the Iranian regime have been warning the citizens against fitna (civil war) that could break out ahead of the June 2013 presidential election with the active backing of Western countries, similar to the popular riots that took place before the elections in 2009.

Basij Commander Mohammad Reza Naqdi warned lately about the possibility of political assassinations directed by Western elements, and, in March 2013, the Intelligence Ministry published security instructions for the public aimed at forestalling civil protests organized by foreign forces, as it said. The ministry emphasized the ban on carrying hot and cold weapons, and urged citizens to report any suspicious activity to the police. It alleged that such measures are customary in Europe, where citizens alert the authorities to any dubious event.

It should be stressed that these publications are part of the policy of intimidation and threats employed by the regime against the populace ahead of the presidential elections scheduled for June of this year. Moreover, a warning about political assassinations coming from the commander of the Basij, which is in charge of suppressing civil protests and which performed this task in 2009, is ironic, considering that it was regime loyalists who carried out political assassinations during the 2009 events. Hence, Naqdi's statement about political assassinations is clearly meant to imply that protesters will be targets for assassination.

This report reviews the measures being taken by the regime to thwart civil protest ahead of the presidential elections.

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Basij Commander Naqdi: Iran's Enemies Mean To Carry Out Political Assassinations, As They Did During The 2009 Elections

At an April 6, 2013 Basij conference, Basij Commander Mohammad Reza Naqdi warned that Iran's enemies plan to carry out political assassinations ahead of the elections, in order to sabotage them or at least ensure the victory of the candidate they prefer. He said that the enemy aims to undermine the regime's attempt "to hold the elections in a calm atmosphere and with maximal participation [of the citizenry so as to ensure] the election of the worthiest candidate... [The enemy] has extensive plans for psychological [warfare]... and for dubious murders like [the ones that took place] during the fitna [in 2009]... He has harnessed all his abilities in order to sabotage the elections or at least minimize public participation in them, intending, at the very least, to isolate the worthiest candidate and promote the weakest." Therefore, Naqdi urged "all the media and political apparatuses, as well as the public, to be on the alert."[1]

Intelligence Ministry To Iranian Citizenry: Cooperate In Thwarting Enemy's Plot To Sabotage Elections

In late March 2013, the Iranian Intelligence Ministry published on its website ( a set of instructions for the public, the gist of which was a demand to cooperate with the security apparatuses and inform them of any anti-regime activity. The instructions stated that, as a lesson from the events of 2009, it is the duty of every citizen to take part in protecting society from the plots of the enemy who seeks to spark unrest during the elections. The public was warned not to believe rumors spread by foreign channels about the regime, and not to disseminate these rumors; not to divulge sensitive information to unauthorized persons; to avoid carrying hot or cold weapons; and to beware the attempts by foreign espionage organizations to recruit Iranian agents.

The ministry explained that such security measures are customary in Europe, where citizens report anything suspicious to the police, and that this "security culture" is "one of the virtues of European societies."

The following are excerpts from the Ministry's instructions:

"These [instructions] were formulated based on the essential and legal duty of the Intelligence Ministry to ensure and enhance public security, so as to protect the Iranian citizens from security dangers and threats. Below are the most important security and intelligence warnings that must be heeded by the public, both government officials and ordinary citizens... Vigilance and alertness to security matters on the part of the public will thwart the plots of Iran's enemies. National security depends on the participation of each and every member of the Iranian nation in [the effort] to ensure public safety.

"Vigilance and alertness in the presence of unfamiliar persons, and care not to divulge sensitive information about one's workplace or place of residence to dubious persons, are fundamental principles that ensure public security. Information should be divulged to unfamiliar persons only after they identify themselves by presenting a valid ID...

"Any abuse of one's professional capacity will be considered abuse of government office and a legal offense. The public may report such offences to the Intelligence Ministry headquarters.

"Do you know that, in Europe, citizens report to the police from the streets, and even from behind [their] windows, about any kind of dubious activity or vagrancy? This security culture is one of the virtues of European societies. In all developed countries, cooperation with the police and the security apparatuses is public behavior that grew out of sensitivity to the public's need for sustainable security. There is no greater blessing for society than security.

"Possession of explosives, military gear, and hot or cold weapons threatens the lives and property of your loved ones and is against the laws of the state...

"Security officers operate by official legal and judicial mandate. Beware of [individuals] impersonating [them]... If intelligence officers approach you [and seem] dubious, ask them to show an official ID or badge. Whenever you witness some offence, alert the Intelligence Ministry headquarters immediately by dialing 113.

"Dial 113 immediately [if you witness] any attempt by foreign nationals to obtain information about workplaces or general information. Do not give foreigners information about our beloved homeland.

"If you find secret or confidential official documents in the vicinity of your residence or workplace, dial 113 immediately or place them in the mailbox of [the Intelligence Ministry headquarters].

"If you receive a dubious phone call in which [the caller] asks unusual questions or tries to obtain special information, do not be fooled and dial 113 immediately. The enemy tries to obtain information about our homeland over the phone...

"If you travel abroad, the enemies will try to befriend you. Beware their requests and their traps during your trip.

"If an enemy approaches you asking for cooperation or information, report it to the Intelligence Ministry headquarters without delay. This will demonstrate your patriotism, your sanity and your loyalty, and our duty will be to praise [your] patriotism and protect you.

"Government officials on holiday are [targets for] enemy espionage. Do not divulge any information even to friends and family, or reveal your access to confidential information or documents.

"When applying to foreign embassies for a visa or other needs pertaining to a visit [abroad], do not supply information about your workplace. If the foreigners press you, inform the Intelligence Ministry headquarters.

"Spreading rumors and propaganda [from] foreign radio and television channels is [an act of] collaborating with the enemies of our beloved homeland. So take no heed of the enemy's rumors. The foreigners spread rumors just to sow division among the [regime] officials and undermine our national unity... Know that rumors are a plot by the enemies of the homeland... They... must not be heeded or spread, so as to maintain the happiness and optimism of our society...

"Iranian citizens traveling abroad enjoy the support of the Iranian [diplomatic] representations in every country. If you have made a grave error, intentionally or unintentionally, do not worry, and trust in the support of the Iranian government. Do not capitulate to the pressure of foreign officials who insist that you comply with their illegal demands. Request to contact the Iranian embassy staff immediately. In their presence, the foreign officials will deal with you according to the law, and the [Iranian] state will support you. If you fail to contact the Iranian embassy, contact the Intelligence Ministry headquarters or dial 113 upon your return to Iran and explain what happened.

"Treason against the homeland begins by capitulating to foreign officials. Patriotism and a refusal to succumb to these pressures, and informing Iran's officials about any illegal conduct by foreigners, will earn you praise and encouragement from the government [officials] who serve the [Iranian] public."

* A. Savyon is Director of the Iranian Media Project; Y. Mansharof is a research fellow at MEMRI.


[1], April 6, 2013.

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