What are the Basij?

Discussion in 'Iran' started by GreenWings, Jun 19, 2009.

  1. This thread is to collect information on the paramilitary force under the command of the Revolutionary Guard, known as the Basij. Information will be gathered here for convenience and quick perusal. If you have any information to add, please post here (make sure you provide your source) or find me on the IRC.


    The Basij started as something of a people's militia during the Iran-Iraq war.

    After the stabalization of the Islamic Revolution, they served as moral police, reserve troops, a people's militia, civil protection and riot control. They work outside the law, and have little or no accoutnability. There is a precedent for Basij members being prosecuted and put in jail, but they are excused.

    Regular police are not allowed to interact with them.

    The Basij have enjoyed a revival under Ahmadinejad. They underwent a restructuring and re-prioritization.

    A lot of their activities seem to indicate a certain amount of foresight on the part of the government. Their training has been focused on riot control and urban warfare, clearly in preparation of unrest like the kind we are seeing today. They have been cultivated to be loyal to the Islamic Revolutionary government. It is a source of terror to realize they have not been used nearly to their full potential.



    The following is compiled from what has been observable during the election protests.

    The Basij dress in normal clothes. No identifying mark, symbol, or signal has been discerned. Thus, it is assumed that they identify friends/foes by 1) their actions - the people who are being aggressive are their friends, the ones who react by fighting back, running, or pleading are foes. The size of their combat cells (15-20) means they are also capable of 2) face recognization as a means to identify their comrades. However, they usually execute missions and objective in groups larger than that, meaning that method 2 may not be being used.

    They sometimes masquerade as protesters, wearing green and marching with them, and then attacking by beating them.

    During the day, they skirt around the larger crowds and tend to target smaller groups of protesters in side streets, along with the riot police. Their MO seems to be to push protesters (or have the protesters chase them) down side streets in order to fragment groups into manageable sizes, and then use overwhelming force to attack and arrest them. This conclusion was reached because the only videos and pictures of direct attacks from Basij are in areas enclosed by buildings or roads that force protesters to form smaller columns.

    At night is presumably when they do the majority of their work - beginning at dusk they will pursue arrests of opponents to the government, raid buildings, and attack protesters going home. Troubling is that unlike with the police, it is unclear where they take prisoners and how they treat them. Some students from the university they raided are still missing.

    They have been taped firing into crowds. It is unclear, but it seems the ones that do will fire a few warning shots in an attempt to disperse crowds, and then fire into crowds. It is unclear what they have been told about how much death they can cause. The lack of a big massacre thus far leads one to believe that the killings that are committed are a result of the rhetoric of their superiors, rather than any express commands.


    Unclear. It seems recruitment into the Basij is open, but it is certainly possible some only joined for the benefits:

    The Basij is a local organization. They have ties to the community. It is understandable for them to attack/arrest specific targets whom they have been told are enemies of the state, but the indiscriminate firing and beating of crowds do not make sense. Perhaps many of the Basij in action were brought in from more hardline conservative cities to Tehran. People like that would see the entire protest as an affront to Islam.


    History of fundamentalism in Iran - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Basij - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Iran's Basij Force -- The Mainstay Of Domestic Security - Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 2009

    Special thanks to rednite and radiooo for their help.

  2. Continued

    Questions to be answered:

    What is their internal structure? Does each combat cell have a leader that interprets and executes orders, are they sent out on their own prerogative, or are they given specific missions to execute? How do they organize concerted efforts?

    How do they communicate, within cells and among mosques? Is the communication blackout an advantage or disadvantage to them? Is the government helping them in this area? Is it all word of mouth, are they using walkie-talkies, radios, cell phones?

    Where are they basing themselves? Where are their prisoners being held?

    What are they capable of? What are their standing orders on how to interact with protesters?

    Is there possibility of opposition within the organization, like the police and military? Is there a way to undermine support for Ahmadinejad/Khomeini?

    How can we learn more about them? Are there any ex-Basij among the protesters?

    I implore Anonymous to explore these questions, especially if (like me) you don't know how to set up proxies or VPN's and are not otherwise occupied.

    If any Iranians have insight or information, please add without hesitation.

    Our hearts and thoughts are with you. Stay strong, stay resolute.
  3. Sorry for the triple post.

    Important update.

    The Four Iran Scenarios and "Basiji Hunting" - The Washington Note

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