Family Members Plea With Iran for Release of Ex-Marine

Family members of Amir Hekmati are pleading with Iran for his release from an Iranian prison. Hekmati, a 28-year old American of Iranian decent, travelled to Iran in the summer of 2011 to visit his grandmother and other relatives.
As a first-generation American, Hekmati missed the connection with his relatives growing up. He remembered the warm relations he had had with his grandmother when she came to America to visit the family. The last time he saw her, he was 12 years-old.
Despite objections from his mother and other family members, Hekmati decided to travel to Iran. His sister had visited twice before with no problems. Hekmati applied for an entry visa through all the proper channels. He specifically told the Iranian authorities that he was a former Marine (he had been a translator in Iraq, among other positions in the military) and asked them if that would create any problems for him. His paperwork was processed and Hekamti set off for Iran.
Just a few short weeks after his arrival, Hekmati was arrested and accused of being a spy for the CIA. A court case in January rendered a conviction, and Hekmati was sentenced to death.

However, in March, the conviction was annulled. Yet to date, Hekmati remains in solitary confinement in the dreaded Evin Prison in Iran.
In a radio show broadcasted by The World, Hekmati’s sister, Sarah Hekmati, a school social worker who lives in Lathrup Village, Michigan, told interviewer Marco Werman that her brother was a pawn, unfortunately caught up in politics between the U.S. and Iran. The U.S. government categorically denies that he was a spy.
We do know everything about what Amir was doing in Iran through Amir himself. He called mother almost daily and update her about where he visited, how excited he was to be in that culture. Even the CIA acknowledged that he was not part of the CIA.
Ramy Kurdi, Sarah’s husband and an orthopedic surgeon, says, “We do know everything about what Amir was doing in Iran through Amir himself. He called mother almost daily and updated her about where he visited, how excited he was to be in that culture. Even the CIA acknowledged that he was not part of the CIA.”
Hekmati’s mother has traveled to Iran three times to visit her son. Kurdi reports that “he’s emaciated and lost a lot of weight. Knowing Amir for years and years, he’s really a fitness guy. He takes care of himself, he works out, and just judging by his appearance, looking at him from pictures and from his mother’s guess, we think he lost anywhere between thirty, forty pounds, but, overall, we’re hoping his morale is strong. We know that he does communicate to his mother that he food and drink and all the basic necessities, but he is in solitary confinement for over a year.”

In addition, Amir’s father, Ali Hekmati, a teacher in Michigan at a community college, was recenly diagnosed with brain cancer.

Says Sarah Hekmati, “The prognosis is grim, unfortunately, but it’s something that’s really heart-wrenching considering Amir has no contact with us, and he’s unaware that my dad is going through this.”

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Iranian Plan to Create Havoc in Strait of Hormuz Revealed

A secret plan is in the works by the head of Iran?s Revolutionary Guards designed to reduce the sanctions against Iran by the world community.

A weekend report by the German magazine Der Speigel quotes Western

intelligence sources as saying that one of the options that Iran is considering is manufacturing an artificial environmental crisis in the Straits of Hormuz.

The ?crisis? would block international oil tankers from passing through the strategic waters, thus ?punishing? countries that have participated in the sanctions.

About 20% of the world’s petroleum, and close to 35% of the petroleum traded by sea, passes through the strait. [

According to the plan, called ? Murkey Waters,? Iran would use an oil tanker to contaminate the strait. Besides taking revenge on the international community, Iran reasons that the West would be forced to cooperate with them to clean up the ?disaster.? Moreover, the West — having seen the consequences of the straits being closed — would lessen its sanctions against Iran to prevent such a ?disaster? in the future.

The plan is the brainchild of IRGC headAircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in the Straits of Hormuz ( (Photo: U.S. Navy Imagery) Mohammad Ali Jafari and Iranian Navy commander Admiral Ali Fadawi. Jafari has said in the past that, if threatened, the regime would close the stait. America has vowed that that will not happen.

The plan is currently under consideration by Iran?s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who ultimately will decide if Iran will follow through with the plan, according to the magazine said.

The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow body of water between the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf. It is the only passageway from the Persian Gulf to the open sea and is one of the world?s most strategically important choke points. Iran is situated on the north coast of the strait, with the United Arab Emirates and Musandam (an enclave of Oman) on the south coast. At its narrowest, the strait is 21 nautical miles (39 km) wide.

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Iran Behind Cyber Attack on Major U.S. Banks

Iran is behind a series of recent cyber attacks on U.S. banks, according to U.S. national security officials. Senator Joe Lieberman, as well, accused Iran of being behind the attacks on the websites of JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America.

The attacks made the websites unavailable to certain customers by overwhelming the sites with massive traffic. Further damage is unknown due to the fact that such information is classified, however the fear is that the Iranians planted malware in the banks’ websites capable of highly significant damage in the future.
Analysts say the attacks are not because of the anti-Islam video that has sparkled worldwide violent Muslim protests, but rather because of U.S. sanctions on Iranian banks. In addition, although the U.S. is allowing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad into the country for a U.N. address this week, entry was denied to 20 members of his entourage.
The attacks are being viewed as Iran

flexing his muscle against the U.S.
Lieberman said that he didn’t believe that the attacks were made by Iranian hackers, but rather the Quds Force itself.

After the attack, the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center, a financial services industry group, issued a warning to other U.S. banks, brokerages and insurers to be on the alert as more attacks could be expected. Smaller operations, who haven’t invested as much in cyber security, are particularly vulnerable.

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Iranian Foundation Raises Reward on Life of Salmon Rushdie

An Iranian Foundation has raised the reward on the life of Salman Rushdie, who has been struck by a fatwa. The fatwa was issued when he published “The Satanic Verses”. The Khordad Foundation added another 500,000 Dollars to the reward, bringing it up to a total of 3.3 million Dollars for anyone succeeding to viagra kill the writer.

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U.S. Hands Ahmadinejad a Global Microphone

Just a few days after the anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will travel to New York City. Once he arrives he will be handed a platform to incite violence and hostility from the center of the UN universe, just a few miles from Ground Zero.

This is a man who openly advocates genocide, brazenly endeavors to commit terrorist attacks on American soil, kills and kidnaps Americans abroad, brutalizes his own people, sponsors terrorism around the world, and is on the verge of acquiring a nuclear bomb.

Today, on 9/11, we need to ask why. Why is he being given this global megaphone?

In September of 2010 Ahmadinejad used the podium of the United Nations General Assembly to make this claim about the 9/11 terror attacks: “Some segments within the U.S. government orchestrated the attack to reverse the declining American economy…”

In September of 2011 he complained that “Colonial powers … threaten anyone who questions the Holocaust.”

It is a moral outrage that the Obama administration is facilitating Ahmadinejad’s return to the United States in September of 2012.

Many argue that the 1947 Headquarters Agreement between the UN and the U.S. leaves no room for the White House to maneuver on this point. The deal that was struck states that the U.S. government “shall not impose any impediments to transit to or from the headquarters district” (a defined area in New York City’s east side) to a representative of a UN member state.

But the same agreement also says the following: “It is agreed that no form of racial or religious discrimination shall be permitted within the headquarters district.”

Ahmadinejad is the quintessential bigot. In 2008, he told the General Assembly “a small but deceitful number of people called Zionists … have been dominating an important portion of the financial and monetary centers as well as the political decision-making centers of some Europeans countries and the US in a deceitful, complex and furtive manner.” If the agreement were applied as it should be, “no form of racial or religious discrimination” would mean no President Ahmadinejad in New York.

In 1988 Yassir Arafat, then Head of the Palestine Liberation Organization was denied a visa and unimpeded transit when he tried to address the General Assembly, despite the objections of UN legal counsel. The State Department pointed to the “security reservation” that Congress had attached to the resolution which brought the Headquarters Agreement into force. Congress had stipulated that nothing in the agreement diminished or weakened “the right of the United States to safeguard its own security…”

Surely, the security threat posed by aiding and abetting Ahmadinejad is as great or greater than the threat posed by Arafat.

Denying Ahmadinejad a New York launching pad also meets the expectations of the UN Charter itself, since all UN members have “resolved” “to reaffirm faith … in the dignity and worth of the human person,” “to establish conditions under which justice … can be maintained,” and “to employ international machinery for the promotion of … advancement of all peoples.”

But the Obama administration is not enabling Ahmadinejad’s warmongering hate speech just because today’s state department lawyers assert that their hands are tied. Legitimizing the presence of the Iranian president in the United States on the world stage is a key tenet of President Obama’s foreign policy. It goes by various lofty names like “diplomacy” or “engagement.”

Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Bloomberg Radio, when asked about setting “red lines” to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon: “We’re not setting deadlines … [W]e have more time … to do everything we can to bring Iran to a good faith negotiation.”

Incredibly, Team Obama still believes that there is a chance that, Holocaust-denier, genocide-promoter and the man who claims that 9/11 was an “inside job,” Ahmadinejad will enter into “good faith” negotiations with the United States.

History has another name for such delusional diplomacy: Appeasement.

Over the president’s term of office, Iran has gone from possessing 3.5 percent low-enriched uranium “sufficient for a nuclear weapons breakout capability” in February 2009, to the production of 190 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium at the Fordow underground nuclear site this August – according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In November 2011, the IAEA reported that Iran had carried out research “specific to nuclear weapons” and in August 2012, the agency said Iran was hampering their ability to conduct inspections at a suspect site.

This relentless march forward was met by a president-elect who said, “We need … direct diplomacy with Iran,” and who followed that with repeated “offers of meaningful cialis canadian pharmacy engagement” and a whole bunch of “the door remains open if Iran chooses to walk through it.” Timelines were kept fuzzy, like “the window is closing” and “we’re not going to have these talks just drag out.”

Yet, fraudulent elections and freedom-seekers dying in the streets of Tehran in June 2009, a plot to bomb the Israeli embassy and kill the Saudi U.S. ambassador in Washington in October 2011, and the fact that Israel remains “in the bull’s eye” facing “an existential threat” – as Clinton put it Monday – seems to have changed nothing in the Obama White House.

The centrifuges spin and the president contended in April: “We haven’t given away anything — other than the opportunity for us to negotiate and see if Iran comes to the table in good faith.” Four barren months later, the administration is still using “good faith” in the same sentence as Ahmadinejad.

President Obama is also fond of declaring, as he did this past March, “The world is unified; Iran is politically isolated.”

Actually, it’s just the opposite: Iran is now completing a year’s term as vice president of the General Assembly and, on August 26, 2012 in Tehran, was crowned chairman of the 120-member Non-Aligned Movement representing 60% of UN members, in the presence of the UN Secretary-General.

As for those “crippling sanctions on Iran” the Obama administration keeps talking about, doubling the number of centrifuges in its Fordow underground nuclear facility in the last three months alone doesn’t connote “crippled” to anybody.

Sadly, we can predict the words of President Obama and an unimpeded Ahmadinejad on September 25 and 26, respectively, when both presidents will address the General Assembly. One president will say he denounces intolerance, and the other will say he denounces the United States. Both will give a warm shout-out to the UN. And those who hope and pray there will never be another 9/11 will have been failed.

Anne Bayefsky is director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust. This article appeared originally on

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Iran, North Korea Sign Cooperation Agreement

In a team-up against “common enemies,” Iran and

North Korea announced that have signed a new scientific and technical cooperation agreement.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Kim Yong Nam (Korea’s second in command) that the Islamic Republic and North Korea have common enemies and that both should resist threats and pressures to reach their common goals.

One purpose of the agreement is believed to be a joint effort to counteract government-sponsored malware such as Stuxnet, Duqu and Flame, whose attacks have wreaked havoc with the development of Iran’s nuclear program.

“It’s highly likely that one of the reasons for this co-operation is for them to work together regarding their cyber defense and cyber offense strategies,” F-Secure security chief Mikko Hypponen told V3. “Both of these countries have clear interest in improving their cyber capability. And both of them have massive armies. Iran and North Korea both have armies that are among the 10 largest in the world.”

Stuxnet is a highly sophisticated malware-program that was discovered in June 2010 and is believed to be government-sponsored. Five organizations in Iran were hit by the malware, which spreads through Windows until it eventually reaches its target of Siemens industrial software and equipment. The malware caused a significant setback in Iran’s uranium enrichment program.

In September 2011, Duqua, a program similar to Stuxnet and with the same target, was discovered.

Flame, the most recent program (discovered in May 2012) performs espionage through cyberspace. Infections from the malware have been reported in Middle Eastern countries as well as in Europe and North America. Flame spreads through Windows and can easily carry on to affect other computers connected through a Local Area Network or information transferred through a USB stick. The malware can take screenshots, record conversations (including those on Skype), and monitor keyboard activity and network traffic. It is even capable of downloading contact information from nearby Bluetooth-enabled devices.

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Iran Plans to Send Warships Off Coast of U.S.

The head of Iran?s navy says Iran plans to put its warships in international waters of the U.S. coast

?in the next few years.?

Speaking on Iranian state TV, Admiral Habibollah Sayyari declared that the intention was a response to the U.S. Navy?s increased presence in the Persian Gulf. Sayyari aslso said, ?We will not allow anyone to trespass our country?s waters. There is no need for anyone else to establish security in our region.?

The U.S. Navy?s 5th Fleet, which is based in Bahrain, has increased its number of vessels in the Persian Gulf over the last number of months due to Iran?s threats to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz. Iran’s threat to close the Strait came in response to international sanctions levied against the country due to its refusal to halt its uranium enrichment program. The enriched uranium is believed to be part of Iran?s covert nuclear weapons program.

More than a third of the world?s oil supply that is transported by sea passes through the Strait, which is slightly more than 24 miles (39 kilometers) wide at its narrowest point.

Sanctions have bitten into Iran?s revenues at a rate of $130 million per day (in lost sales), according to Bloomberg reports. Reports also show that Iran is exporting only half the amount of oil as in previous years. Oil sales account for 80 percent of Iran?s foreign revenue.

Still, the sanction have proven be ineffective in stopping Iran?s drive to acquire nuclear weapons. The latest reports show that uranium enrichment facilities in Iran have doubled in the last three months.

The U.S. fleet will be conducting a large-scale military exercises in the region at the end of this month. The U.S. currently has two aircraft carriers positioned in the gulf.

Iran?s threats are not without teeth. Over the past two years, Iran has sent its navy to ?patrol? the Mediterranean Sea as well as the Indian Ocean.

Sources: AP, Russia Today , Fox News

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Jailed Iranian Pastor on Death Row Released

In a dramatic development, the imprisoned Iranian pastor charged with apostasy in Iran was released Saturday. Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, 32, had been sentenced to death and had been awaiting execution in an Iranian prison for three years.

The move caught the international community as well as the pastor by surprise. The Nadarkhani was called to a hearing on Saturday to answer ?charges brought against him,? leading political analysts to speculate that new charges would be brought up against him.

As is often the case in Iran, apostasy and other faith-based ?crimes? are regularly accompanied by trumped up charges of security-related crimes to cover up blatant religious persecution.
However, at the hearing, the apostasy charges were dropped and Nadarkhani was charged instead with the crime of evangelizing to Muslims. The latter ?crime? carries a three-year prison term, which Nadarkhani had already served.

Nadarkhani was arrested after he had questioned the Muslim monopoly of religious instruction for children, which he felt was unconstitutional.

“While we praise the release of Pastor Youcef, we must recognize that Iran felt obligated to save face among its people and continue its pattern of suppressing religious freedom with intimidation tactics,” Tiffany Barrans, a legal director for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) said to

The ACLJ had been actively working with the U.S. State Department and other groups to secure the pastor?s release. The case drew international attention when Nadarkhani, a married father with two young children, refused to renounce his faith even in the face of execution.

“International attention to this matter saved this man’s life, but we must not forget the human right of freedom of religion includes the right to freedom of expression,” said Barnes.

According to Sharia law, once arrested for apostasy, a prisoner is given three days to denounce his conversion from Islam. Upon refusal, he or she can be executed at any moment.

?Pastor Youcef?s story is an example of how the world can join together to ensure that justice is served and freedom preserved,” said Jordan Sekulow, executive director of ACLJ in a

statement to Fox.

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Iran Steps Up Persecution of Religious Minorities

Mohabat News, a Chrisitian news agency in Iran, reports that Iranian authorities are using trade unions to gather information about religious minorities. It is believed that

the information will be used to identify and further persecute them.

In a further crackdown on religious minorities in Iran, the agency says that Iranian police have given the unions forms that everyone must fill in when meeting with a trade union. The forms request personal information about the individual as well as each one’s spouse.

Opponents of these forms ask, “What do our spouse’s personal information, current and past addresses and the condition of our place of residence have to do with the union?”

Various sources also told the news agency of intensified pressure by the Religions Department of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry against associations and organizations affiliated with Armenian, Jewish, Zoroastrian and Assyrian religious and other ethnic minorities.

According to published reports, the Revolutionary Court as well as the intelligence and security police of Tehran sent warning notices to all members of the Iranian parliament representing religious and ethnic minorities asking them to obtain reports and information about religious minorities and ?suspicious regime opponents? and their families inside Iran.

The religious minorities representatives are said to be ?cooperating? with the Ministry of Intelligence.

At the same time, the Intelligence Ministry, with the help of the Ministry of Communication and Technology, has compiled a list of phone numbers registered under Jewish, Armenian and Assyrian names and is believed to be constantly monitoring their conversations.

A news source inside the country also told Mohabat News that a religious minorities representative was complicit with the government in the the closure of some churches as well as the banning of Farsi-speaking Christians from entering official churches.

Iranian security authorities recently raided a house church in Shiraz and arrested ten Christian converts who were worshipping there.

At the same time, the homes of 30 Iranian Bahais in Shiraz were attacked by security authorities, with 11 arrested.

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UN Report: Iran Doubled Enrichment Capability in Last 3 Months

A recent U.N. report says that Iran has doubled its number of uranium enrichment centrifuges housed in one of its underground bunkers. This, despite sanction on the regime by the West and the threat of an attack by Israel.
The report says that the enrichment process was rapidly increasing in the Fordow bunker. The bunker is buried deep inside a mountain and is believed to be capable of surviving any attack. Enriching centrifuges at Fordow were said to have more than doubled in since May alone, up from 1,064 to the current 2,140, although the report said the new machines were not functional as yet.
Also mentioned in the U.N. quarterly report was the fact that Iran had attempted to hide evidence of nuclear-linked tests, as witnessed by the siting of buildings that had been destroyed along with the removal of earth at a military site. Iran has denied the International Atomic Energy Agency access to the site for inspection. In addition, the site, which the IAEA believes houses a steel chamber used for explosive tests, has recently been ?shrouded,? negating the effectiveness of gleaning information about it from satellite images.

The IAEA also said that ?no concrete results? had come from extensive negotiations with Iran this year by the international community.
A news report by Reuters quotes a senior Western diplomat as saying, “Iran’s continued enrichment activities … serve to taunt all those in the international community concerned by Iran’s

nuclear program.”

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