|Opposition group: Iran leaders planned capture of Britons|
|Sat. 31 Mar 2007|
London, Mar. 31 – Iran’s main opposition movement, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), said on Saturday that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) had planned the recent capture of 15 British marines and naval personnel and are holding the group in an effort to gain concessions from the West.
A unit of the IRGC Navy’s 3rd regional command based in Khorramshahr Garrison executed the premeditated operation to capture the Britons on March 23, said Hossein Abedini, a member of the NCRI’s Foreign Affairs Committee, at a press conference in London. He said that the garrison was on a full state of alert.
“Rear Admiral Rashid Hosseini, the commander of the IRGC Navy’s third regional command, personally had command of the operation to arrest the British sailors”, he told reporters.
“A number of IRGC Navy commanders had previously been stationed in Khorramshahr. Colonel Badin was the operational commander based in Khorramshahr at the time of the arrests”.
He gave the names of three IRGC officers – Colonel Majidi, Colonel Abbas-Zadeh, and Colonel Isavi – who were involved in the seizure.
Abedini said that the information he had showed that Rear Admiral Morteza Safari, commander of the IRGC Navy, was in contact with Rear Admiral Hosseini as the operation was taking place. Rear Admiral Safari is one of a number of IRGC commanders who were brought under sanctions under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1747 earlier this month.
A command force comprised of representatives of the ministries of intelligence and foreign affairs in coordination with the IRGC Joint Chiefs of Staff under the direct supervision of the Iran’s Supreme National Security Council is presently following up the case of the sailors, he said.
Abedini said that the NCRI’s information had been smuggled out of Iran by the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI), one of the Council’s leading member organisations.
“The clerical regime had in a premeditated act arrested British sailors in order to win concessions from the international community and divert attention from its nuclear projects. Claims that the sailors were arrested in Iranian territorial waters are baseless.
“Taking British sailors as hostages is part of the religious fascism’s policy of exporting terrorism and fundamentalism”.
He said that a “correct policy” regarding Tehran must be comprised of two elements: “On the one hand, all diplomatic and commercial ties with this regime must be cut off and instead comprehensive sanctions must be imposed against it and on the other hand all the obstacles and restrictions on the Iranian opposition must be lifted; in particular the unlawful terror tag must be lifted from the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran”.
“The British government’s refusal over the past three months to implement the verdict of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities insofar as removing the terrorist label from the PMOI has convinced Tehran’s rulers that its breeches of Security Council resolutions and its meddling in Iraq will face no serious response”, he added.
Abedini told reporters that the NCRI had passed on its information to Number 10 Downing Street.
The 15 British sailors and marines were seized at gunpoint earlier this month after they finished a routine search of a merchant ship which London says was in Iraqi waters.
Tehran claims the 14 men and one woman had moved 500 metres into Iranian territorial waters, a claim London denies. The British Ministry of Defence has released global positioning system data as evidence that the group had been more than 2 km outside Iranian waters.