Friday, January 20, 2006

Iran’s Ahmadinejad gives new powers to Interior Minister

Iran Focus: a pro-MEK website
Iran’s hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appointed on Friday the country’s Interior Minister as the new head of the National Security Council.

Interior Minister Hojjatoleslam Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, who was the Deputy Minister of Intelligence and Security for some 13 years during the late 80s and throughout the 90s, has turned the Interior Ministry into a huge security and intelligence apparatus by bringing in many officers from the country’s secret police.

Pour-Mohammadi is systematically replacing all the top officials of provincial administrations. READ MORE

Prior to his appointment as Ahmadinejad’s Interior Minister, the radical Shiite cleric had been running the Special Department for Security and Intelligence in the office of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Pour-Mohammadi’s sweeping changes and political appointments have turned the Interior Ministry into one of the country’s most powerful security agencies. The Deputy Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Brigadier General Mohammad-Baqer Zolqadr, has been appointed as Pour-Mohammadi’s second-in-command, with overall responsibility for internal security.

Khamenei’s recent decision to name Pour-Mohammadi as the Acting Commander in Chief of the State Security Forces gave him complete control over the vast police force of the Islamic Republic.

The National Security Council, a separate entity from the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), is entrusted with internal security. It had become largely defunct during the Khatami Administration but has since been revamped as part of the “militarisation” of the atmosphere.

The appointment of Pour-Mohammadi at the helm of the National Security Council is expected to contribute significantly to further crackdowns in the country.

Ahmadinejad said that he expected Pour-Mohammadi to “establish and safeguard the country's sensitive security”.

A human rights group said last year that Pour-Mohammadi was a notorious former deputy intelligence minister, whose agents “systematically engaged in extra-judicial killings of opposition figures, political activists and intellectuals”, and linked him to the murder of thousands of political prisoners in Iranian jails in 1988.