Iran Focus – Editorial: Iran’s state TV on 17 June aired “confessions” by two unidentified individuals who it claimed were “terrorists” linked to the main opposition group People’s Mojahedin (PMOI). The supposed confessions exposed the regime’s remarkable political lapses.
Iran’s state TV on 17 June aired “confessions” by two unidentified individuals who it claimed were “terrorists” linked to the main opposition group People’s Mojahedin (PMOI). The supposed confessions exposed the regime’s remarkable political lapses.
The increasingly fragile theocracy has ratcheted up public rhetoric against the PMOI as unremitting social protests have gained in depth and scope. Authorities acknowledge that the group has been instrumental in organising mass protests, and accordingly have handed down death and imprisonment sentences and attempted to discredit the group in order to curb its growing influence.
The state-run Raja news published the full text of the tailor-made confessions, which had an air of awkwardness wrapped in an amusing tale eerily familiar to diehard Ian Fleming fans.
“In their televised confession”, it wrote, “the two detained terrorists unveiled the secret objectives of the Monafeqin (hypocrites) grouplet in carrying out terrorist operations inside Iran”, using the regime’s derogatory term to refer to the group.
The faces of the alleged offenders were concealed, though it was not clear from whom. They were only introduced as “terrorist one” and “terrorist two” and recounted an astonishingly identical and carefully worded narrative.
The two individuals claimed the PMOI had e-mailed them bomb-making instructions, asking them to destroy “public property and places” during the anniversary of the nationwide protests this month.
They neither explained their reasons for agreeing to an anonymous request to damage “public property” nor did they offer a credible rationale as to why the group would want to bring harm to the public and discredit itself – and apparently quite ineptly through unsecure e-mails and chat rooms.
The Iranian regime has gained international notoriety for producing forced confessions for propaganda, occasionally prompting international rebuke and ridicule.
In this case, as if anticipating the PMOI’s inevitable denials, the two alleged offenders claimed their PMOI handlers had warned: “If anything goes wrong, you must say that you acted alone in the bombing. We will deny you had any links with us.”
Such statements are reminders of James Bond spy novels or the late 1960s Hollywood motion pictures like “Where Eagles Dare”, in which secret agents are told by their superiors to deny links to their intelligence organisations upon arrest and instead claim that they were acting only on their own initiative.
But, beyond their spy thriller appeal, if any, the regime’s attempts to discredit the main opposition using such frantic tactics at a watershed moment for the people’s protests signals that the mullahs are clearly frightened of the PMOI’s extensive social reach and the potential for more serious upheavals.
The televised confessions actually turned out to be unwitting admission of the regime’s own frailty and trepidation over the Iranian people’s democratic yearnings.