Iran arrests groups planning attacks on pilgrims

Hundreds of thousands of Iranians travel to the Iraqi city of Kerbala each year where remains of Imam Hussein are believed to be entombed. (AFP)
Updated 23 October 2018
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Iran arrests groups planning attacks on pilgrims

  • Iran’s Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi did not specify when and where the arrests had taken place
  • The militant groups were allegedly planning to attack during the annual pilgrimage of Arbaeen
LONDON: Iran said on Tuesday it had arrested 15 militants planning attacks on Shiite Muslims making an annual pilgrimage to Iraq.
Hundreds of thousands of Iranians travel to the Iraqi city of Kerbala each year for the ritual of Arbaeen, which marks the end of a 40-day mourning period for the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, Imam Hussein.
Iran’s Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi, visiting the Iran-Iraq border area, was quoted by state television as saying that “three terrorist groups that wanted to target Arbaeen mourners were arrested.”
Tasnim news agency quoted Alavi as saying the arrests took place in southwestern Khuzestan province in recent days, and 15 people were arrested.
“The detainees confessed that they wanted to carry out suicide attacks to kill the pilgrims,” Alavi said.
He gave no indication when the attacks were due to take place, but the culmination of the pilgrimage this year falls at the end of October.
Shiites are considered apostates by hard-line Sunni Islamist insurgents in Iraq. Armed Sunni groups in Iran have also increased attacks on military and civilian targets in recent months.
Iran stepped up security in border areas after five gunmen killed 25 people at a military parade in the city of Ahvaz, in Khuzestan province, in September.
Daesh militants and an Iranian ethnic Arab opposition movement claimed responsibility for the attack, but neither claim provided convincing evidence.
At least 10 Iranian security personnel including Revolutionary Guards were kidnapped on the border with Pakistan last week. A Sunni separatist group said it had seized them as revenge for the oppression of Sunni Muslims.


Amnesty slams Iranian execution of two men charged of financial crimes

Updated 14 November 2018
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Amnesty slams Iranian execution of two men charged of financial crimes

LONDON: After two men convicted of financial crimes were executed in Iran, Amnesty International has strongly criticized the Iranian regime.
Vahid Mazloumin and Mohammad Esmail Ghasemi were put to death after a trial Amnesty has called “grossly unfair.”
Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director, Philip Luther, said of the case: “With these abhorrent executions the Iranian authorities have flagrantly violated international law and once again displayed their shameless disregard for the right to life.
“Use of the death penalty is appalling under any circumstances but it is even more horrific given that these men were convicted after a grossly unfair show trial that was broadcast on state television. Under international human rights law, the death penalty is absolutely forbidden for non-lethal crimes, such as financial corruption.
“The shocking manner in which their trial was fast-tracked through Iran’s judicial system without allowing them the chance of a proper appeal is yet another example of the brazen disregard the Iranian authorities have for defendants’ basic due process rights.”
The duo were executed after being charged with “manipulating coin and hard currency markets through illegal and unauthorized deals” as well as smuggling. An unspecified number of other accomplices went to prison.
Iran detained Mazloumin, 58, in July for hoarding two tons of gold coins.
With Iran in the grip of a deepening economic crisis, authorities have carried out mass arrests of individuals whom they accuse of being “financially corrupt” and “saboteurs of the economy.”
According to Amnesty, the pair were convicted and sentenced to flogging, lengthy prison terms and eventually the death penalty after “grossly unfair summary trials.”
In August, Iran’s Supreme Leader approved a request by the Head of Judiciary to set up special courts to deal with crimes involving financial corruption. Since then, these courts have sentenced several people to death.
In a statement, Amnesty said the trials were unfair because defendants were denied access to lawyers of their own choosing, had no right to appeal against sentences of imprisonment during the process and were given only 10 days within which to appeal death sentences.