Assassination plot uncovered in Iran, Islamic militants
TEHRAN, May 6 (AFP) - Twelve members of an Islamic militant group have
been arrested for plotting to assassinate Iranian leaders, the official
IRNA news agency reported Thursday, citing a senior judicial official.
"Members of the group were preparing a list of people to assassinate,
including a number of Iranian figures," IRNA quoted Mohammad Niazi,
a prosecutor for the Tehran military court, as saying.
Niazi, speaking Wednesday evening to a group of clerics in the holy
city of Qom, said that 12 members of the Shiite Moslem fundamentalist group,
Mahdiyoun, had been arrested including its leader.
The newspaper Iran News reported Thursday that the authorities had
foiled an attempt on the life of influential former president Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani
by a radical religious movement.
The assassination bid by the Mahdiyoun was "discovered and neutralised,"
the English-language daily reported, without giving any date or other details
about the attack.
The authorites last month announced the arrest of Hassan Milani, the
leader of the shadowy fundamentalist group, for a bombing here in January
which left the head of Tehran's justice department, Ali Razini, severely
The authorities accused the Mahdiyoun last month of responsibility
for the attack which left Razini paralyzed and one other person dead.
The group, which has some 30 members, takes its name from the Mahdi,
the twelfth imam, who is said to have disappeared at the age of five and
whose reappearance will occur on the day the world has been cleansed of
injustice and corruption.
Members of the group believe that the reappearance of the twelth imam
"was not possible because certain people were in the way" and
had to be eliminated, Niazi said.
Former president Rafsanjani, 65, one of the architects of the 1979
Islamic revolution and a close confidant of the republic's late founder
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, was head of state from 1989 to 1997.
He remains a powerful figure as head of the state Expediency Council,
which settles constitutional disputes, and he is the top advisor to Iran's
supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
While regarded as a guardian of the moderate wing, Rafsanjani has close
ties with all political factions and is a key figure in Iranian politics.
Iran has been rocked in recent months by a series of deadly attacks
against intellectuals as well as leading officials.
Top general Ali Sayad Shirazi, considered a national hero after commanding
many of the ground assaults in the 1980-1988 war with Iraq, was slain in
Tehran in April in an attack claimed by the main armed opposition group,
the People's Mujahedeen.
Niazi has been heading the investigation into a series of murders of
intellectuals and dissidents last year which were blamed on "rogue"
members of the country's intelligence ministry.