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Dissident Groups Employ Thugs in Iran, IRGC Commander Claims

IRAN -- A group of protesters chant slogans at the main gate of the Old Grand Bazaar, in Tehran, June 25, 2018

The Deputy Chief of Staff of the General Staff of Iran's Armed Forces, Majid Mir Ahmadi, claimed on Friday that there was evidence of Iran's opposition "supporting" the "thugs and hooligans" in the country.

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)-run Tasnim news agency reported that Ahmadi shared his concerns at a meeting with the Friday Prayer Imam of Isfahan in central Iran.

A series of clues have been collected that shows that hostile groups are supporting thugs and bullies to achieve their goals, Tasnim cited Mir Ahmadi as saying.

However, Mir Ahmadi stopped short of presenting any "evidence" to support his claim.

Mir Ahmadi also announced an anti-thug headquarters in the Law Enforcement Force or Disciplinary Force of the Islamic Republic in all 31 provinces of the country since last August.

The Law Enforcement Force or Disciplinary Force of the Islamic Republic, known with its Persian acronym as NAJA, is the uniformed police force in Iran. It has more than 60,000 police personnel, including border guards, and is under the Ministry of Interior's control, while serving as the executive arm of the country's Judiciary.

Earlier, Mir Ahmadi had admitted that most of the detainees in the recent widespread anti-Islamic Republic demonstrations across Iran belonged to the "poorer strata of the society."

Mir Ahmadi's "new term" for describing anti-regime protesters, as human rights advocates note, will pave the way for the Islamic Republic's hardline Judiciary to try and sentence demonstrators more swiftly.

Furthermore, they say, the new term, "thug," is aimed at humiliating protesters who regard themselves as "political activists."

Praising the head of the Judiciary's order for investigating the "thugs' cases" out of turn, Mir Ahmadi claimed, since the establishment of the new headquarters, that "effective and good measures" have been taken and will continue "until the roots of the thug phenomenon dry up" all over the country.

Immediately after the establishment of the new headquarters, the Deputy Commander of NAJA, the IRGC Brigadier General Qassem Rezaei, threatened, "If a person takes up firearms or cold weapons and causes people to panic, they will be hit right away in a manner that disables them forever of even holding a fork."