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Q&A: Attack on Karrubi Was a “Coordinated Effort”

Omid Memarian interviews HUSSEIN KARRUBI, son of Mehdi Karrubi

BERKELEY, California, Jan 8 2010 (IPS) - Hussein Karrubi, the son of Iranian opposition figure Mehdi Karrubi, whose car was struck by two bullets on Thursday in Qazvin, a city near Tehran, tells IPS the Islamic Republic is trying to silence and intimidate his father.

Mehdi Karrubi Credit: Arash Ashoorinia (

Mehdi Karrubi Credit: Arash Ashoorinia (

Many analysts believe that the escalating attacks by security forces on opposition figures could push the popular protests, which have been ongoing since the disputed Jun. 12 elections, to a new level.

Hadi Ghaemi, a spokesperson for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, said, “Opposition figures are in danger of being eliminated by the Revolutionary Guard and Basij militias, acting undercover, to make the assassinations look like crimes by zealous citizens.”

Karrubi told IPS that, “The popular protest movement has penetrated different layers of society and it makes the government very angry that after seven months, people have not only not been intimidated, but they have grown bolder and more courageous.”

The interview was conducted a few hours after the assassination attempt against his father, Mehdi Karrubi.

“They use violence to intimidate both the leaders and the people, so that they can stop the movement,” he said.

Citing an increase in violence by pro-government forces such as the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij, Karrubi said that an extremist element within the Iranian government believes in confronting the protesters and even putting the reformist leaders on trial, but that there are disagreements within the conservatives.

“The more moderate individuals within this group don’t believe in violent solutions,” he said.

Excerpts from the interview follow.

Q: What was the purpose of the trip Mr. Karroubi took to Qazvin? A: He was invited to go to Qazvin by Mr. [Naser] Ghavami, the former head of the Iranian Parliament’s Judiciary Commission, as well as the head of the Karroubi election campaign, in order to participate in a mourning ceremony for Muharram [the Shia holy month].

We received word that starting at noon on Thursday, the IRGC [Revolutionary Guard Corps] and Basij were asking all their members to check in. When he arrived in Qazvin, the forces were transferred to Mr. Karroubi’s residence in buses. They started cursing and chanting slogans in support of the Supreme Leader, Mr. [Ali] Khamenei. They also threw bricks and stones toward Mr. Karroubi’s residence, breaking the windows.

The residence was surrounded for four hours before Qazvin Police’s Special Forces arrived and asked Mr. Karroubi to leave the house in his car. When he tried to leave the house in his car with help from Qazvin Police Special Forces, there were about 500 people in the parking lot, many of whom are known IRGC and Basij commanders, people who are known as senior IRGC commanders in the province.

Q: When were the shots fired? A: When the car left the parking lot, two shots were fired, one aiming for the rear window, which smashed one of the bullet-proof layers, causing the glass to crumble, and another through the front windshield window which only caused a crack in the bulletproof glass.

Q: How is Mr. Karroubi’s health? A: I went to meet him at his home. His morale is the same as it has been over the past seven months, no change. I can even say that he is stronger.

Q: What is your analysis of this attack? A: Extremist forces wish to intimidate my father into a self-imposed house arrest. They don’t want to pay the political price of a government-imposed house arrest, and wish to put him in a position where he would choose to stay in the house because of such serious threats.

Q: Currently your father’s newspaper and his political party have been banned. His daily activities must be completely interrupted, too. What do you think is the source of concern for IRGC and pro-government forces to the point of attempting an assassination on him? A: They are angry because Mr. Karroubi participates in public gatherings. They observe that wherever he goes, large crowds gather to greet him and to show their support. Mr. Karroubi is concerned that such threats are targeting his contact with the public.

Q: Why don’t they arrest your father like the other reformist leaders who have been arrested after the elections? A: I think the political costs of arresting Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karrubi are a lot higher than the other reformist arrests. If they decide to take such an action in the future, I will have to say that the regime has entered an era of complete lack of wisdom.

Q: Do you think the assassination attempt was serious? A: Yes. At the November rally to commemorate the occupation of the American Embassy, police sprayed tear gas at Mr. Karroubi. They intended to harm him, but it hit his bodyguard’s face a few inches away from Mr. Karroubi’s face. They mean to harm him, to intimidate him.

Q: How safe is Mr. Karroubi? A: He has bodyguards who help his security to a degree, but they can’t do much. I think they just serve a symbolic purpose. When four to five hundred people have surrounded him and are shooting at him, what can the bodyguards do, really?

Q: Do you believe this assassination attempt was planned in advance? A: Fars News Agency, which is affiliated with IRGC, transmitted the news within 10 minutes. There is no doubt that this was a coordinated effort between Qazvin IRGC and Basij and Fars News Agency.

Q: The other presidential candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, recently wrote a letter to the Iranian government proposing steps for solving the existing crisis. Do you think there can be a dialogue between the regime and the protesters? A: We must wait and see what happens over the coming days. By writing a letter and offering recommendations for resolving the existing crisis, Mr. Mousavi has put the ball in the regime’s court. Now they have to decide how to address the protest movement.

Q: What are Mr. Karroubi’s daily activities now? TV: He has his daily meetings and conducts his daily affairs. He follows the news through TV and news websites.

Q: How do the people perceive your father’s continued efforts? A: People have high morale. They are waiting for occasions and events to participate in protests. The people who are talking to him only tell him one thing and that is “Please persist, Mr. Karroubi.” People tell him to defend their rights firmly. My take is that he is keeping his promise to people to demand their rights.

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