Cablegate Chronicles: Iran's Ninjas

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Iran's martial arts masters are being pressured to act as enforcers and assassins, one claims.

FROM: BAKU, AZERBAIJAN
TO: STATE DEPARTMENT
DATE: SEPTEMBER 1, 2009
CLASSIFICATION: CONFIDENTIAL
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Iranian Martial Arts Clubs Used for Political Repression --------------------------------------------- ------------

¶1. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx a licensed martial arts coach and trainer xxxxxxxxxxxx, 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. xxxxxxxxxxxx who provided originals of his Iranian coaching license and technical certificate as xxxxxxxxxxxx. He claimed that his xxxxxxxxxxxx with difficulty maintained its independence from control by organizations affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard and/or intelligence service. xxxxxxxxxxxx

¶2. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx 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 xxxxxxxxxxxx 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) xxxxxxxxxxxx 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 xxxxxxxxxxxx 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). xxxxxxxxxxxx claimed that his club was raided and greatly restricted xxxxxxxxxxxx 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 xxxxxxxxxxxx. Although he has stopped working at the school, he claimed to be under relentless pressure to cooperate, xxxxxxxxxxxx

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