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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09BAKU678
2009-08-28 08:14:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Baku
Cable title:  

IRAN: IRANIAN MARTIAL ARTS COACH CLAIMS MARTIAL

Tags:   PGOV  PHUM  AJ  IR 
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R 280814Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY BAKU
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INFO RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0060
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 0138
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
						C O N F I D E N T I A L BAKU 000678 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/26/2019
TAGS: PGOV PHUM AJ IR
SUBJECT: IRAN: IRANIAN MARTIAL ARTS COACH CLAIMS MARTIAL
ARTS CLUBS USED FOR POLITICAL REPRESSION, KILLINGS

REF: A) BAKU 575

Classified By: POL/ECON COUNSELOR ROB GARVERICK, REASON 1.4 (B and D)

Iranian Martial Arts Clubs Used for Political Repression
--------------------------------------------- ------------

C O N F I D E N T I A L BAKU 000678

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/26/2019
TAGS: PGOV PHUM AJ IR
SUBJECT: IRAN: IRANIAN MARTIAL ARTS COACH CLAIMS MARTIAL
ARTS CLUBS USED FOR POLITICAL REPRESSION, KILLINGS

REF: A) BAKU 575

Classified By: POL/ECON COUNSELOR ROB GARVERICK, REASON 1.4 (B and D)

Iranian Martial Arts Clubs Used for Political Repression
-------------- --------------


1. (C) Hooshang, a licensed martial arts coach and trainer
from Tabriz currently visiting Baku (protect), told Baku Iran
watcher that private martial arts clubs and their managers
are under intense pressure to cooperate with Iranian
intelligence and Revolutionary Guard organizations, both in
training members and in working as "enforcers" in repression
of protests and politically motivated killings. Hooshang,
who provided originals of his Iranian coaching license and
technical certificate as a First Grade Black Belt in
Ninjutsu, claimed to have been deputy manager of a private
Ninjutsu school in Tabriz since 2006. He claimed that his
"sport" of Ninja combat training has a small but increasing
following in Iran, and has with difficulty maintained its
independence from control by organizations affiliated with
the Revolutionary Guard and/or intelligence service.
According to Hooshang, most other private martial arts
organizations in Iran, including Tae Kwon Do and Jujitsu
clubs, have already acceded this pressure.


2. (C) Hooshang observed that Iranian internal security
forces are highly suspicious of these clubs as potential
vehicles for organization and "combat" training of future
protesters and regime opponents. Nonetheless, he asserted
that their main motivation is seeking to control these clubs
is less driven by such fears as by a desire to deploy their
trained membership at will for "special tasks." According to
Hooshang, these tasks range from providing martial arts
training to Revolutionary Guard members and Basij, assistance
in protest repression, intimidation, and crowd control, to
political killings. He observed that use of these clubs and
their members provides the security forces with "plausible
deniability" for dirty undertakings, as well as trained
fighters and potential trainers.

Alleged Contract Killings
--------------


3. (C) Hooshang said he personally knew one such martial

arts master whom he said was used by the Intelligence service
to murder at least six different individuals over the course
of several months in the Tabriz area. Hooshang said that
the victims included intellectuals and young "pro-democracy
activists," adding that his assassin acquaintance was
ultimately "suicided" by the authorities (i.e., killed in
what was subsequently labeled a suicide). Hooshang claimed
that his club was raided and greatly restricted last Spring
after he and the club manager refused to train Basij or lend
them their facilities. He said that they also refused to
mobilize their membership to assist in repressing local
protesters commemorating the third anniversary of the
anti-Azeri "cockroach cartoon" incident. Although he has
stopped working at the school, he claimed to be under
relentless pressure to cooperate, relating that recently his
father has been summoned by the authorities several times and
urged to "convince" his son.


4. (C) Hooshang left Tabriz in mid-July, and is currently
waiting for action on a request for a visa to Japan, where he
has martial arts contacts. (Note and Comment: A Tehran-based
student recently echoed some of Hooshang's story, noting that
his Tae Kwan Do class could only be held at night as during
the daytime his instructors are "required to train the
Revolutionary Guard." The use of martial arts clubs members
as political enforcers/repressors existed under the Shah,
and, according to sources, exists today in several
neighboring countries, including the Republic of Azerbaijan.
End Note and Comment).

Tabrizis "Pragmatic" on Post-Election Protests
-------------- -


5. (C) On the topic of Tabiz-area post-election protest
activities, Hooshang said that almost everyone he knew voted
for Moussavi, and was angered by the fabricated result.
However, he claimed that there was considerable reluctance to

turn to the streets once serious repression began. He said
that Tabriz residents are "very pragmatic"; while not afraid
of protesting per se, they will only do so in favor of a
tangible end result that they feel is clearly in their
interest. He asserted that many Tabrizis saw the election
and subsequent fallout as a power struggle within the Tehran
regime which had little to do with them or their felt
interests. "People see it as an issue for Tehranis," he said,
and are "reluctant to risk their necks" unless/until they
feel that real regional policy changes are achievable.


6. (C) He explained that "no matter who wins,(many Tabrizis)
feel that there will be no change" in language, cultural, and
government hiring policies that discriminate against Azeris.
He depicted these as by far the most powerful regional
political issues, outweighing desire for greater regional
autonomy and other issues. While acknowledging that both
Moussavi and Karroubi had made campaign statements endorsing
liberalization of language policies, Hooshang said that these
statements were perceived as lip service, and that "(de
facto) Tehrani" Moussavi in particular was not regarded as
credible on this issue, given his earlier attitudes on the
issue when he was Prime Minister. Comment: Hooshang's
remarks on the reasons for relative Tabrizi diffidence and
focus on language issues echoes earlier comments made to Baku
Iraq watcher by a former Azerbaijani Ambassador to Iran and
an Iranian Azeri intellectual (ref a, item #5). It is
interesting to hear similar points from a non-intellectual
who claimed little interest in Azeri nationalism. End
Comment.


LU