Inside Iran's Basij Militia: Islam's Radical Believers

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Amateur video taken in Iran showed the brutal killing of a woman on a Tehran street.  The woman is identified only as Neda.

Millions of people have viewed the footage online, making it one of the most watched items on the video website YouTube.

Some are calling Neda Iran's Joan of Arc.

The video shows the final seconds of a young woman's life, dying only moments after being shot.

The people around her try desperately to help her. In the video, it is not clear who shot her. But the individuals who posted the video claim she was murdered by a member of the Iranian pro-government militia known as the Basij.

The Basij is one of the most committed enemies of the United States in the world today. The paramilitary group is one of the most important organizations within Iran. It claims as many as three million members. Tens of thousands of men serve full time in the militia and follow a radical ideology.

During the Iran- Iraq War fought from 1980 to 1988, tens of thousands marched to their doom across Iraqi minefields. Basij soldiers are trained to embrace martyrdom.

The same fanaticism during the 1980's is still at work today and some say even more aggressively. It is directed at the United States known as "The Great Satan" and particularly right now Israel is called "The Little Satan."

"We have to wipe Israel," said one member of Basij.

"I am here due to my Muslim obligation to fight Israel until the last drop of my blood," said another.

"Islamic teachings will motivate us from 13-years-old and up including our elderly, all of us are ready to sacrifice our life," said another militia member.

Menashe Amir is the host of a radio show for The Voice of Israel Farsi. He is considered one of the most foremost experts on Iran.

"I'm very much afraid that western countries and western people don't realize how dangerous this ideology is and what will be the prospect in the future," he said.

The fanaticism of Basij is legendary and horrific.  The Basij play a key role for the ruling mullahs and for Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Just a few days ago, he paid tribute to elite Basij units and called them his children.

"Ahmadinejad says that he is part of the Basij and for him the Basij is very important and that it has a holy mission just to safeguard the regime," Amir explained.

The Basij function as a human shield for Iran's rulers. Iran's supreme leader has given them almost unbridled power to protect the regime from internal dissent. They crush any opposition throughout the country much like the way Hitler used his S.A. or Brownshirts to crush any opposition to the Nazi Party.

"Whenever there is any sign of opposition against the regime they come and they attack people," Amir told CBN News. "They beat them. They injure them and they are very much detested among the Iranian population."

While many Iranians detest the Basij, this group sees itself as a vanguard of Shiite Islam that will help prepare the way of the Islamic messiah, the Mahdi, and defeat the West.

"The Basij think that Islam is a young, dynamic force that is growing while the western civilization is a declining force," Amir said. "It's weak. It's old. They are not ready to sacrifice themselves. And that's the reason why the Basji deeply believe that in the end the victory will be with Islam itself."

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CBN News
Chris Mitchell

Chris Mitchell

CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief

In a time where the world's attention is riveted on events in the Middle East, CBN viewers have come to appreciate Chris Mitchell's timely reports from this explosive region of the world. Mitchell brings a Biblical and prophetic perspective to these daily news events that shape our world.