Iran Focus: Tehran, Jun. 18 – More than 12 million Iranians have been organised into the paramilitary Bassij, according to the force’s acting commander.
Tehran, Jun. 18 – More than 12 million Iranians have been organised into the paramilitary Bassij, according to the force’s acting commander.
“70 million people share the ideal of Bassijis and are steadfast in their defence of the Imam’s [Khomeini] ideals as well as Islamic and revolutionary values”, claimed Brig. Gen. Ali Fazli. His remarks were carried by the Fars news agency, which is affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
“We are planning to organise a 20-million Bassij army and have mobilised 12 million people so far”, Fazli added.
The Bassij commander described 2009 as a year full of dangers and challenges which were overcome by public vigilance. The presence of two million Bassijis during Khomeini’s death anniversary was a “stern warning” to the “leaders of the conspiracy”, he claimed.
Fazli also expressed concern over the role played by young activists during the year-long anti-government protests, which he attributed to the “enemy’s soft war”. He warned that the “enemy has targeted the mind and thinking of the younger generation, for which reason we need to launch a serious effort and activity in order to safeguard the blood of the martyrs and the ideals of the revolution”.
Many observers discount official claims of the size of the Bassij as far too exaggerated.