By Kayhan Life Staff
A source familiar with events in Iran has told Kayhan Life that most gang leaders and delinquents have refused to help the Islamic Republic crush ongoing protests sparked by the death of Mahsa (Zhina) Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died in mid-September while in the custody of the morality police.
The move to recruit inner-city delinquents in Tehran in the effort to brutalize protesters stems from the state’s inability to boost the ranks of the riot police, security units, and Basij (volunteer militia) forces that have been spread too thin in the past two months.
The source noted, however, that the Islamic Republic used Hani Kordeh, a well-known Tehran gang leader, to crack down on a protest at Sharif University of Technology (formerly the Aryamehr University of Technology).
A tweet by Kayhan London on Nov. 5 included footage showing protesters at Sharif University of Technology shouting, “we do not want a corrupt system. We do not want a murderous leader.”
Hani Kordeh reportedly served as a member of the Defenders of the Holy Shrine in Syria.
According to the same source, the Intelligence Protection Organization of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) summoned several known gang leaders, asking them to help crush protesters in Tehran in return for a reduction in fines ordered as part of their criminal convictions.
However, most gang leaders reportedly refused to attend the meeting.
“Some refused to cooperate, saying they preferred to go to prison,” the source added. “Some left Tehran, temporarily moving to unknown locations.”
Ali Akbari, a former member of the Iranian national bodybuilding team, confirmed the report.
“They [authorities] offered money to some gang leaders, which they refused, even after they were threatened that their [suspended] sentences would be enforced,” Mr. Akbari told Kayhan Life. “They refused to confront people. That is why two of them who had been recently released were put back in prison.”
Some of Akbari’s friends, who are in contact with several gang leaders, reportedly told him that prison authorities deliberately housed students and protesters with career criminals, asking them to abuse the young detainees psychologically and sexually, which they refused to do. As a result, many of them were put in solitary confinement.
Some gang leaders who had previously worked with Basij units have reportedly refused to help Iranian authorities this time.
Several prominent public figures, who previously supported the Islamic Republic, have joined the regime’s critics, including world-class wrestlers and bodybuilders.
Wrestlers and bodybuilders have traditionally enjoyed great popularity while maintaining close ties with the state, empowering them with social and political influence. The state has consistently called for their support during the political and social crisis. However, they have been reluctant to support the Islamic Republic’s efforts to suppress recent protests.