The act of martyrdom is often celebrated by the Iranian theocracy. Most recently, Iranian President-Elect Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, in his second TV appearance since his election victory, spoke July 25, 2005 on Iranian Channel 1 in praise of "the art of martyrdom."
The day after Ahmadi-Nejad's TV appearance, the London Arabic-language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat published a report about his spiritual advisor, Ayatollah Mohammad Misbach Yazdi. The report advised Iranians on how to volunteer for the Iranian regime-sponsored volunteer martyrdom squad, and mentioned an Iranian women's volunteer group that is dedicated to carrying out martyrdom operations against U.S., British, and Israeli forces.
The subject of Iranian martyrdom seekers was also the topic of a recent program on Al-Arabiya TV, which is discussed below.
Ahmadi-Nejad on the Art of Martyrdom
The following are excerpts from a speech by Iranian President-Elect Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, which aired July 25, 2005 on Iranian Channel 1. In it, he praises martyrdom operations and states that Islam will conquer the world. (To view this clip, visit http://memritv.org/clip/en/782.htm.)
Ahmadi-Nejad: "We want art that is on the offensive. Art on the offensive exalts and defends the noble principles, and attacks principles that are corrupt, vulgar, ungodly, and inhuman.
"Art reaches perfection when it portrays the best life and best death. After all, art tells you how to live. That is the essence of art. Is there art that is more beautiful, more divine, and more eternal than the art of martyrdom? A nation with martyrdom knows no captivity. Those who wish to undermine this principle undermine the foundations of our independence and national security. They undermine the foundation of our eternity.
"The message of the [Islamic] Revolution is global, and is not restricted to a specific place or time. It is a human message, and it will move forward.
"Have no doubt... Allah willing, Islam will conquer what? It will conquer all the mountain tops of the world."
Spiritual Advisor of Iran's President-Elect Calls on Iranian Volunteers to Carry Out Martyrdom Operations
Ayatollah Mohammad Misbah Yazdi, the spiritual leader of Iranian President-Elect Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, issued an announcement to the Iranian people, calling upon them to volunteer for an Iranian organization of martyrs. 
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The announcement read: "Acts of martyrdom are the great pinnacle of the [Iranian] people and the height of its courage. The commander [Iranian Leader] Khamenei has announced registration for the forces of martyrdom in all of Iran's provinces, in order to defend Islam and to fight the enemies of Islam. Our sacred organization, [the organization of martyrs belonging] to the Islamic Republic, is intended for those interested in carrying out shahada [martyrdom]. The volunteer, male or female, will join specialized courses. Brother and sister believers who want to defend Islam are invited to contact [us] at POB 664-1653, Tehran, and to send two photos, a copy of their birth certificate, and a request to join the martyrs' corps."
According to the report, the organization is headed by Elias Naderan, leader of the conservative faction of the Iranian parliament, former intelligence officer in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and an ally of President-Elect Ahmadi-Nejad. A few months ago, he founded an organization called Zeitoon, intended for women and men interested in committing martyrdom operations "against the enemies of Iran and Islam" – especially against U.S., British, and Israeli forces.
Ayatollah Masbah Yazdi attended one of Naderan's conventions, and emphasized to the hundreds of participants the need to volunteer for the martyrdom operation training courses.
One of the volunteers, Mohammad Reza Siyari, who recently fled from Iran to Turkey, told Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that during a visit to Ayatollah Masbah Yazdi's office in Qom, the latter told the volunteers: "The gates of Paradise have opened for you. There are beautiful black-eyed virgins waiting for you on the banks of rivers of honey."
Siyari further said that the volunteers undergo training in four Revolutionary Guards and "Army of Jerusalem" camps.
Al-Arabiya TV Report on Iranian Martyrdom Seekers
The following are excerpts from a report about the movement of "martyrdom seekers" in Iran. Al-Arabiya TV aired this report on July 2, 2005. (To view this clip, visit http://memritv.org/clip/en/736.htm.)
Martyrdom-seeking movement member Vesaly: My name is Vesaly... We are first and foremost Muslims, and it is our duty to defend our brothers and sisters throughout the world. We don't need permission from anybody. This has to do with our religious duty and responsibilities. This is our choice, and we have no fear. We adhere to the legacy of our late leader, Imam Khomeini."
Crowd: "There is no God but Allah. There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is Allah's messenger."
Reporter: "These young women have forsaken the temptations of life, and have taken the hard way. Indeed, they have chosen martyrdom as a way of liberating the Islamic lands. This is what they say.
"40,000 time bombs in Iran – this is the number of volunteers so far, and the registration is still open. There is no distinction between men and women, Sunnis or Shiites. 'We all sacrifice for the sake of Islam,' they chant. This is the movement of martyrdom seekers, whose goals and organizational structure are still unclear. They refused to give further details, but did not conceal their determination to sacrifice their lives. The reason [is] what America has done in the holy places of Najaf and Karbala."
Firooz Rajai, a movement leader: "In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate. The movement of martyrdom seekers began after the American campaign against Najaf and Karbala in Iraq, over a year ago. The religious scholars decided that such a movement should be established in this country, the majority of which are Shiite, in order to support their brothers, especially following the experience of the war that was forced on Iran by the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq."
Reporter: "This is a symbolic grave of the first man who tried to get rid of Salman Rushdie. Here there are also symbolic graves commemorating the people who killed hundreds of American and French soldiers in Lebanon, in 1983.
"This young mother from Palestine, who sacrificed her life and blew herself up at an Israeli checkpost, is a role model for the movement's members, who believe this is the only way to liberate the Palestinian lands, especially the Al-Aqsa Mosque."
Firooz Rajai: "In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate. We will not allow the Zionists to build their Solomon Temple in the place where the Al-Aqsa Mosque stands. They have not succeeded so far, and they never will. We are willing to sacrifice our bodies and souls to defend the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Our goal is to achieve martyrdom by way of true Jihad. This is the true path to which we strive. We don't need a fatwa on this, since we get our fatwas from the Koran and from all the authorities on Islamic law. We vow to turn into bombs that will explode at anyone who wishes to desecrate our holy places."
Reporter: "The movement denies any connection to the Iranian government, and considers itself an independent organization. Although the government occasionally expresses reservations about the movement of martyrdom seekers and its operations, the movement has used government buildings for its training, and some Revolutionary Guards members have publicly defended them."
Iranian MP Hamid-Reza Haji-Babai: "Martyrdom seekers may exist in every country, and in Iran, they have beliefs that they hold sacred. This is a popular movement, which cannot take the form of an organization. Iran has so far managed, democratically and diplomatically, to maintain relations with all countries and preserve its status, despite the American hostility. The oppressive, inhuman, and undemocratic American behavior in recent years has led to the creation of martyrdom-seeking movements everywhere."
Reporter: "After receiving theory lessons, the volunteers undergo secret training, far from the media. Even though the movement's leaders refrain from disclosing the kind of activities that are included in this training, they emphasize that this is not a military organization, and that no special or complex training is required – a few days are enough to train the volunteers."
Firooz Rajai: "So far, we have not sent any brigade out of the country, and have not clashed with government opposition to us. We maintain law and order, and our activity is clear and serves Islam. This does not mean that we are not prepared to report for duty anytime, anywhere. We believe in combining ideology and action. Our movement is not a symbolic one. Our goal is well known. When the time comes, martyrdom will be inevitable. There are many NGOs in Iran that support the Palestinian cause, and we maintain relations and cooperate with them, as well as with Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. We meet with the representatives of the two movements in Tehran, and we hope this will be successful."
Reporter: "Whether in Iraq, Palestine, or any Islamic country, the movement of martyrdom seekers is ready for action, but the Iranian government still does not know whether the movement has already sent volunteers to Iraq or even to Israel."
Ali Samadi, a movement leader: "As everyone can see, the Zionists attribute no significance to the Arab and Islamic governments. They continue their aggressive policies to fulfill their goals. The world considers the Israeli military to be the fifth most powerful force, and its security apparatus to be the second most powerful in the world. Since they only understand the language of force, our new weapon of martyrdom operations is bound to change the balance of power. Even the separation wall they are building won't prevent the martyrdom operations and the changing of the balance. The Iranian youth takes pride in [the fact that] this movement was founded after the Islamic Revolution in order to create a core of resistance against the occupiers in a way unmarred by flaws, as was the case with the Al-Qaeda organization, for example. We are not afraid of the American fleets or the British weapons in Iraq. We vow to become time bombs in the event of any aggression on our land."
Reporter: "Thus, they await death with happiness and joy. In their view, martyrdom for the sake of Allah is the sweetest thing."
 Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), July 26, 2005.