An Administration Plagued by Fraud and
Corruption, 30 Mar 2010
2010-03-30 An Administration Plagued by Fraud and
Ahmadinejad and His Men: Embodiments of Fraud and Corruption
There is no doubt in the minds of many
Iranians, including the author, that Tehran's hardliners
committed fraud on a vast scale to steal the presidential
election of June 12, 2009, and deny victory to Mir Hossein
Mousavi. The rigging of the election, the hardliners' violent
crackdown on peaceful demonstrators, the jailing of thousands of
people, the systematic murder, rape, and sodomy of dozens or
more, the Stalinist show trials--these acts have plunged Iran
into a crisis with no end in sight. Superficially, the country
is calm, but even the most minor event may trigger a huge
national explosion at any moment.
Rigging the June election was by no means the
first time that the hardliners resorted to fraud and cheating to
maintain their hold on power. Such acts have been going on ever
since the 1979 Revolution (echoing, of course, the behavior of
the preceding monarchy), and they have become ever more
widespread since Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was appointed Supreme
Leader in 1989. Because he had neither Ayatollah Ruhollah
Khomeini's charisma and popular base of support, nor the
religious credentials expected of the man who would replace him,
Ayatollah Khamenei has always had to rely on the security,
intelligence, and military forces, as well as the minority of
Iranian clerics in the conservative and reactionary camps, in
order to consolidate his control of the nation. The result has
been the never ending growth of economic corruption and the
looting of national resources by a small group, widespread
political and social repression, and a culture of
institutionalized criminality that has provided fertile grounds
for electoral fraud. Indeed, the commission of political crimes
is an essential tool used by the hardliners to maintain power.
At the same time, with the partial exception
of the first three years of Mohammad Khatami's presidency,
Ayatollah Khamenei has never allowed a free press to flourish in
Iran. There is no independent news media that can act as a
watchdog of the state and reveal the depth of corruption and
political crimes that the hardliners have been committing.
The purpose of this article is not to discuss
all the crimes for which the hardliners have been responsible
over the past three decades. There are enough to fill several
books. I have described some of them, such as the infamous
Chain Murders, and the
execution of thousands of political prisoners in the 1980s,
in previous articles. The intention here is to provide an
overview of the various economic and political crimes, as well
as intellectual frauds, that have been committed by Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, the administrations that he has run at every level,
and the people close to him.
Ahmadinejad's Academic Degrees
Everything associated with Ahmadinejad is
complex, contradictory, shrouded in secrecy. He was born on
October 28, 1956, in Aradan, a village near Garmsar, a town
about 80 km southeast of Tehran. His family moved to Tehran when
he was very young. After finishing high school, Ahmadinejad took
Iran's national university entrance examinations in 1976. He
claims to have ranked
132nd out of 400,000 participants that year, but he enrolled in
what is now the Iran University of Science and Technology (IUST)
as an undergraduate student of civil engineering. That is
In the mid-1970s, the school did not even
have university status. It was a daaneshkadeh -- roughly,
"college." Someone ranked as high as Ahmadinejad would have
easily gained admittance to one of the three premier engineering
schools in Iran: the Faculty of Engineering of the University of
Tehran and Aryamehr University (now Sharif University) at the
top, followed by Tehran Polytechnic (now Amir Kabir University
of Technology). The IUST was considered among the country's
second tier of engineering schools, as it still is.
At the time, participants in the national
entrance examinations had to identify their top ten choices
before taking the test. Almost all those who wished to study
engineering would place the three premier schools at the top of
their list, and then less distinguished institutions lower down
as their "plan B." One of Ahmadinejad's hallmarks has been his
utter confidence in his own ability, mixed with extreme
arrogance. There is thus every reason to believe that he would
have identified his desired schools in just such an order. Given
his supposed examination rank, he should therefore have been
accepted to a first-tier school. The evidence clearly indicates
that he ranked nowhere close to the position he claims.
The Basij militia was formed in November 1979
on the orders of Ayatollah Khomeini. In September 1980, Iraq's
army invaded Iran. It is believed that after the invasion
Ahmadinejad joined the Basij militia and later worked in the
intelligence apparatus. At the same time, he held a number of
administrative posts in the province of West Azerbaijan in
northwestern Iran, including the governorships of the towns of
Maku and Khoy. Later, he was an advisor to the governor-general
of Kurdistan province in western Iran. But he was also accepted
to the Master of Science program at the IUST in 1986 and
received his degree three years later. How did he manage to
attain this degree while he was employed far from Tehran?
In 1993, Ahmadinejad was appointed
governor-general of Ardabil province, which used to be part of
East Azerbaijan province. But he was also a Ph.D. student in
transportation and planning at the IUST. He always claimed that
he was working 18 hours a day for the people of the province.
Perhaps he did, but then when did he find the time to work on
his doctoral dissertation? After Khatami was elected president
in 1997, his first interior minister, Abdollah Nouri,
immediately removed Ahmadinejad from his post.
That same year, Ahmadinejad received his
Ph.D. It has been reported that on the day he was supposed to
defend his dissertation, his thesis advisor, Hamid Behbahani,
told the dissertation committee, "You all know Mr. Ahmadinejad
and how pious he is. Thus, say salavvat [salutation to the
Prophet Muhammad and his family] and accept his thesis." It
seems that Ahmadinejad never actually defended his dissertation.
In any case, "Dr." Ahmadinejad joined the faculty of the IUST.
Mayor of Tehran
In early 2003, the Khatami administration
held perhaps the most democratic elections in Iran's history for
the city councils around the country. Unlike the presidential
and parliamentary elections, city council candidates are not
vetted by the ultra-reactionary Guardian Council. Practically
anyone who wanted to run was allowed. With many members of the
Nationalist-Religious Coalition (led by Ezzatollah Sahabi) and
the Freedom Movement (led by Dr. Ebrahim Yazdi) running for the
Tehran council, Ayatollah Khamenei left the city so that he
would not have to vote. He grew angry enough to imply that he
would order the cancellation of the elections.
As it turned out, Ayatollah Khamenei did not
have to cancel any elections. Frustrated by the slow pace of
reform under Khatami -- who later said that during his two terms
the hardliners created a crisis for the country every nine days
-- and particularly by the infighting among the members of the
Tehran council, which was dominated by the reformists, large
numbers of people in Iran's large cities boycotted the
elections. In Tehran, only 12 percent of eligible voters took
part, and the vast majority of those were supporters of the
Islamic fundamentalists, who refer to themselves as "principlists."
A heretofore unknown fundamentalist group,
Abaadgaraan-e Iran-e Eslami, or Developers of Islamic Iran
(DII), swept the Tehran elections and all 16 seats on its city
council. The 17th highest
vote getter was former deputy Interior Minister Mostafa
Tajzadeh. Jailed right after last June's rigged presidential
election, he was recently released for Nowruz, the celebration
of the new Iranian year.
The DII was actually a front for Jameiyat-e
Isaargaraan-e Eslami, or the Society of Islamic Revolution
Devotees (SIRD). Its members began their political activities in
March 1995, and the group was formally founded in February 1997.
In Iran, the SIRD is known simply as the Isaargaraan. Isaar is
an Arabic word for altruism, and an isaargar is someone willing
to selflessly sacrifice for a sacred cause. The SIRD consists
mainly of former Basij members and Islamic Revolutionary Guard
Corps veterans of the Iran-Iraq war. Its secretary-general is
Hossein Fadai, who was jailed during the Shah's reign for his
political activities and worked with the Revolutionary Guards
during the war as a combat engineer. He has repeatedly accused
the reformists of being supported by the United States.
Ahmadinejad himself was a founding member. Fadai and another
leading member of the SIRD, Ali Reza Zakani, are very close to
Ahmadinejad. The organization was fiercely opposed to Khatami
and issued many statements against him and his administration,
criticizing practically every one of his policies.
The DII was led by Mehdi Chamran, the
ultraconservative brother of the Berkeley-educated Dr. Mostafa
Chamran (1932‒1981), Iran's first minister of defense after the
Revolution, who was killed in the war with Iraq. The group
nominated Ahmadinejad, then an obscure politician, for the
position of Tehran's mayor. Such appointments must be approved
by the minister of interior. But Abdolvahed Mousavi Lari, the
reformist cleric who then held the office under Khatami, refused
to approve the nomination for several weeks, due to
Ahmadinehjad's record as Ardabil governor-general (discussed in
more detail below). Eventually, due to intense pressure from
Ayatollah Khamenei, Mousavi Lari relented and approved the
appointment, starting Ahmadinejad's rise in the Iranian
As Tehran's mayor, Ahmadinejad reversed
changes made by the previous reformist mayors, Morteza Alviri
and Mohammad Hassan Malekmadani. He transformed the city's
cultural centers, founded by Alviri and Malekmadani, into
religious ones, demanded separate elevators for men and women in
municipal offices, and ordered the remains of those killed in
the Iran-Iraq War to be buried in the city's major squares.
From the moment he took office, Ahmadinejad
also advocated the construction of a new monorail system, though
work on a Tehran subway system was already under way, led by
Mohsen Hashemi, son of former president Ali Akbar Hashemi
Rafsanjani. Because the DII, Ahmadinejad, and other hardliners
despise Rafsanjani, they wanted to set up a rival public
transportation system, defying all economic sense. Huge sums of
money were spent on the project, but it never took off.
As Tehran's mayor, Ahmadinejad put together a
coalition of some of the Revolutionary Guard and Basij
commanders, ultra-reactionary clerics led by Ayatollah Mohammad
Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, and his allies in the DII, and announced his
candidacy for the presidential elections of 2005. He was given
very little chance of winning. It was widely believed that
Ayatollah Khamenei's initial choice was Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf,
a brigadier general, pilot, and former commander of the
Revolutionary Guards' air force, who was much more polished than
Ahmadinejad. Most people believed that Rafsanjani and Mehdi
Karroubi, the reformist candidates, would make it to the second
round of the elections (Iran's presidential election system
requires a runoff if no candidate wins over 50 percent of the
vote in the initial round).
Ayatollah Khamenei apparently changed his
mind at the last moment and switched his support to Ahmadinejad.
It is widely believed that he did so at the urging of his son
Mojtaba, an ally of Ahmadinejad's. Both are close to
Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi. It is also widely believed that a large
votes were changed to allow Ahmadinejad to make it to the
runoff with Rafsanjani.
During the campaign's second round,
Ahmadinejad's humble background and lifestyle, along with his
promises to root out corruption and maximize oil revenues,
attracted many poor and lower-class people. In contrast,
Rafsanjani was considered by many as a symbol of corruption.
There is also credible evidence that Ayatollah Khamenei directed
the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij commanders to order their
members to vote for Ahmadinejad, and to take with them to the
voting stations as many family members and friends as possible.
As a result, Ahmadinejad was elected. Complaining about the
irregularities in the vote, Rafsanjani said, "I will leave it to
God to judge what has happened."
Once in office, Ahmadinejad began a sweeping
purge of the bureaucracy. He installed many allies in positions
of authority, indicating the extent of his secret network around
the country. As a key ally, Brigadier General Mohammad Bagher
Zolghadr -- a hardliner in the Revolutionary Guards -- declared,
Ahmadinejad's election "was not an accident. It was a result of
two years of complex, multifaceted planning." It has been
reported that even Ayatollah Khamenei was surprised by the
extent and depth of Ahmadinejed's network.
In 2006, simultaneous elections were supposed
to be held for the city councils, as well as for the Assembly of
Experts, the constitutional body that appoints the Supreme
Leader and is supposed to monitor his performance. The
reformists forged an alliance and put up 16 credible candidates
for Tehran's city council. Ahmadinejad's sister, Parvin
Ahmadinejad, also ran for a seat on the council. For months, she
accompanied her brother everywhere. Ahmadinejad claimed that she
would receive the highest number of votes because he was highly
popular and the people wanted another Ahmadinejad.
By then, Ahmadinejad had formed a new
political group, the Sweet Scent (SS) of Service. (There is no
entirely satisfactory English translation for the group's name.
Although it might make little sense in English, it is an
unexceptional phrase in Persian.) Most of its members are former
commanders of the Revolutionary Guards. Its secretary-general is
Mohammad Ali Ramin, a close ally of Ahmadinejad who used to work
at Kayhan, the daily that serves as the mouthpiece of the
hardliners and is run by
Hossein Shariatmadari. Ramin is currently deputy minister of
culture and Islamic guidance and responsible for the press. In
the short time that he has held the position, he has ordered the
closure of scores of newspapers, weeklies, and other
publications. Ramin lived in Germany for many years and is
rumored to have associated with the neo-Nazis and the far right
there. He is believed to be the prime mover behind Ahmadinejad's
rhetoric about Israel and the Holocaust, and was the secretary
of the Holocaust conference that was held in Tehran in 2006.
Despite its use of public resources, the SS
of Service was defeated badly in the elections for the city
council, with its candidates receiving only 4 percent of the
votes. The Tehran election results were not announced by
Ahmadinejad's Interior Ministry for quite some time. All
indications were that at least ten reformists had been elected,
and that Parvin Ahmadinejad was not even among the top 30 vote
getters. It was widely reported that Ayatollah Khamenei had said
that no more than four seats should be given to the reformists,
and so, after considerable alterations of the votes, it came to
pass. Parvin Ahmadinejad was declared the 15th-place vote getter
and was thus "elected." Even then, only three of the SS of
Service candidates for Tehran made it onto the council. Around
the country, the reformists received 60 percent of the votes
cast in city council elections.
The same thing happened in the elections for
the Assembly of Experts. Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, Ahmadinejad's
spiritual mentor, and the hardline clerics around him nominated
many younger, relatively unknown clerics. Mesbah Yazdi himself
ran for a seat as a representative of Tehran province, and it
was claimed by the hardline clerics that he would receive the
largest number of votes. But the pragmatists and relatively
moderate clerics allied with Rafsanjani, who was also running
for a Tehran seat in the Assembly.
Once again, the results were not announced by
Ahmadinejad's Interior Ministry for sometime as Mesbah Yazdi did
extremely poorly, while Rafsanjani led the balloting. Once
again, the votes were altered. For example, Gholamreza Mesbahi
Moghaddam, a relatively moderate conservative cleric, was also
running for a seat as a representative of Tehran province. It
was reported widely, and implicitly confirmed by Mesbahi
Moghaddam, that all his votes were counted for Mesbah Yazdi.
Rafsanjani was ultimately declared the largest vote getter --
though with a reduced number of votes -- and Mesbah Yazdi was
announced as the eighth-ranked candidate.
Then came the 2008 elections for the Eighth
Majles, the Iranian parliament. The reformists lined up a strong
slate of candidates, particularly for Tehran. They nominated
many former ministers and high-ranking officials that had served
in the government for years, believing that the Guardian Council
would not dare disqualify them. However, the local councils,
which carry out the preliminary review of candidates'
qualifications and had been appointed by Ahmadinejad's Interior
Ministry, eliminated the vast majority of reformist candidates.
Only about 100 reformists, most of them little known, were
allowed to run for about 100 seats, out of a total of 290. Even
then, they did well -- 50 of them won their elections, along
with 25 "independents" who were, in fact, also quietly
There is, of course, no need to detail here
what happened in the 2009 presidential election. It was
Economic Corruption and Crimes
On behalf of the 1997 presidential election
campaign of Ali Akbar Nategh Nouri, Khatami's main conservative
rival, Ahmadinejad as governor-general of Ardabil province spent
3 billion toumans (about $5 million at the time) of the
provincial budget. Khatami's first minister of the interior,
Abdollah Nouri, fired Ahmadinejad and referred his involvement
in Nategh Nouri's campaign and the illegal use of government
funds to the courts. The case is apparently still open, although
it has been inactive for 13 years.
As governor-general, Ahmadinejad also made
arrangements for his close friend Sadegh Mahsouli to have
exclusive rights to the oil swaps then taking place between Iran
and the Republic of Azerbaijan. Mahsouli made at least $7
million, which put him well on his way to acquiring his
nickname: "Billionaire Minister."
During Ahmadinejad's tenure as Tehran's
mayor, 350 billion toumans (about $430 million) in municipal
funds went unaccounted. No one knows what has happened to the
money. Ahmadinejad's supporters claim that it was spent partly
on research and preparation for the monorail project and partly
on addressing Tehran's heavy traffic jam problems, but there is
no documentation to support these assertions.
Almost immediately after he was elected
president in 2005, Ahmadinejad asked the Majles to allow him to
withdraw and spend about $400 million from Iran's foreign
currency reserves for the Basij militia. He received permission,
but again there is no accounting of how the money was spent.
Sadegh Mahsouli is the embodiment of corruption. As minister
of the interior, he delivered the "victory" to Ahmadinejad in
the rigged election of last year. The "Billionaire Minister"
estimates his own wealth at $160 million. How did he amass it?
In addition to being helped by Ahmadinejad in the oil swaps with
the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mahsouli used his Revolutionary
Guard connections to purchase thousands of square meters of
lands in some of the best neighborhoods of Tehran at a small
fraction of their market price. He then turned around and sold
the lands at their real value, making an astronomical profit.
Now minister of welfare and social security, he surely possesses
a unique perspective on the lives of the poor.
Over the past five years, the Ahmadinejad
administration has awarded nearly $10 billion in contracts to
Guard-controlled companies, most often without any formal
bidding. They include large projects in the oil and natural gas
industry, the petrochemical industry, and railroad and dam
construction. The contracts have been so rich that Rostam
Ghassemi, head of Khatam-ol-Anbia (KA), the engineering arm of
the Guards that is currently under UN Security Council
sanctions, recently announced that his company will no longer
participate in "small and medium-size projects."
With KA receiving most of the large projects,
many private companies have either gone bankrupt, or have been
forced to work as subcontractors for the Revolutionary Guards.
Since KA does not have the required expertise to carry out many
of the projects it controls, it keeps a significant fraction of
the profit and then contracts out the actual work to the private
sector. Delays, inferior performance, and cost overruns are the
No-bid contracts and KA's involvement in most
large projects harm Iran's national interests in at least two
other important ways. First, KA's involvement with Iran's oil
and natural gas industry makes it extremely vulnerable to
sanctions by the United States and its allies. Given that oil
and natural gas are the most important sources of energy in
Iran, as well as the most important sources of foreign currency,
any large-scale sanction against the industry is extremely
harmful to the vast majority of Iranian citizens. The industry
is already suffering from the lack of significant investments by
the European and American oil giants, while other major oil
producers have raidly been developing their reserves. If these
trends continue, Iran's loss of market share will likely be
The Iranian economy has also been harmed by
the way that KA, in alliance with Ahmadinejad, has been allowed
to raid the treasury with impunity, in the absence of any
supervision by the Majles. An example is the Persian Gulf's
South Pars/North Dome field, the largest natural gas reservoir
in the world, which Iran shares with Qatar. The field covers
9,700 square kilometers: the South Pars, comprising
approximately 3,700 square kilometers, is in Iran's territorial
waters; the North Dome, comprising the remainder, is in Qatar's
territorial waters. In terms of fossil energy content, the field
is also the largest in the world.
The Ministry of Oil intends to develop the
South Pars in 28 phases. Phases 15 and 16 have been granted to
KA. But mismanagement and other factors shrouded in secrecy have
delayed the work. In addition, Ghassemi, the KA head, announced
in early January that "to remedy the financial difficulties that
KA was experiencing" and to complete the project, the
Revolutionary Guards were planning to withdraw $1 billion from
Iran's reserved foreign currency. Ghassemi blamed the National
Iranian Oil Company for the problem.
This withdrawal is, of course, illegal. Any
such use of funds must be approved by the Economics Council, the
Foreign Reserves Funds' Board of Trustees, and the Majles. But
Ahmadinejad has completely bypassed all of them. He stripped the
council of its powers and brought it under his own control. He
also removed the Board of Trustees. And he never asked the
Majles for permission.
Article 44 of Iran's Constitution stipulates
that most national industries must be privatized. Under
Rafsanjani, the Assembly of Experts developed a plan for
privatization. But the Ahmadinejad administration has been
conducting a fire sale of some of the most important national
assets, selling them at a small fraction of their actual value
to quasi-private corporations controlled by the Revolutionary
Guards; to several bonyaads, or foundations, run by hardliners
that already control vast assets; and to companies controlled by
high-ranking clerics loyal to the hardliners. The result has
been a vast looting of the nation's resources. In a future
article, I will probe this issue in depth.
In August 2008, Ahmadinejad introduced Ali
Kordan to the Majles as his new minister of the interior. His
predecessor, Mostafa Pourmohammadi, was sacked after he
submitted a report to Ayatollah Khamenei concerning the 2008
Majles elections and its many irregularities without informing
Ahmadinejad. During his confirmation hearings in the Majles,
Kordan claimed that he has an "honorary" doctorate from the
University of Oxford. He was confirmed by a very slim majority,
but his supposed doctoral degree opened up new venues for
Ahmadinejad's critics to probe. By late October 2008, it had
become clear that not only did Kordan not have a doctoral
degree, but that he did not even have a bachelor's. The Majles
voted to impeach him.
Mohammad Abbasi, who headed the government's
liaison office to the Majles, tried to bribe the Majles deputies
to prevent Kordan's impeachment, handing out checks for 5
millions toumans (about $5,000). A physical confrontation ensued
between one deputy and Abbasi. Ali Larijani, the parliament's
speaker, called Abbasi's efforts "indecent" and forbade him from
entering the Majles. Kordan was impeached and removed from
office. He recently passed away.
In February 2009, the National Audit Office
reported that $1 billion was missing from Iran's foreign
Ahmadinejad claimed that it was an accounting
error, but even many conservative Majles deputies dispute that.
The matter is still unresolved.
Several weeks ago, there were widely credited
rumors that two of Iran's most important banks were going
bankrupt, which caused a panic and led many people to withdraw
their money. The rumors were so persistent and the flight of
money out of the banks so swift that the government barred
withdrawals of more than 15 million toumans ($15,000) at a time.
Mahmoud Bahmani, governor of Iran's Central Bank, ultimately
admitted that the banks had given $47 billion in loans to 300
people, but had succeeded in collecting only about $7 billion.
The rest is essentially in default. In one case, an unnamed
prominent man had taken a loan of $210 million, an unheard-of
amount in Iran. The hardliners essentially treat Iran and its
resources as their own private property.
The corruption is on such a great scale, the
Revolutionary Guards' power is so vast, and the remaining press
is so incapable of probing the endemic fraud and deceit that
even the unexplained disappearance of $1 billion from the
national treasury, the illegal withdrawal of another $1 billion,
and $40 billion of loans in default does no harm to Ahmadinejad,
a man whose claim to piety and incorruptibility is one of his
hallmarks. Talk about a "Teflon president."
Ahmadinejad and his cohort have even badly
damaged the credibility of Iranian academics. In addition to the
unanswered questions about his own advanced degrees, many of his
close aides and cabinet members have been caught cheating and
lying about their records.
In addition to Kordan, Kamran Daneshjoo,
Ahmadinejad's minister of science, research, and technology,
responsible for overseeing the universities, has also not
received the degrees he has claimed. Daneshjoo was in charge of
supervising the rigged 2009 election and certifying it.
In his page on the website of the IUST, where
he is a faculty member, Daneshjoo claimed to have received a
Ph.D. from the Imperial College of London. When questions were
raised, the name of the institution was
changed to "Manchester Imperial Institute of Science and
Technology," which does not exist. He also claimed that he had
received his bachelor's degree from "Queen Mary," presumably
meaning Queen Mary's College.
The fact is that Daneshjoo was expelled from
the Imperial College for his political activities. In early
1989, Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against Salman Rushdie
for his book The Satanic Verses, declaring that the author
should be killed. There were demonstrations in London and
elsewhere in Britain against Rushdie, in which Daneshjoo
participated. Britain decided to expel him and several others.
He never finished his studies before he was obliged to return to
Iran. A university professor in Tehran who is very familiar with
what happened told me that, after Daneshjoo's return, a thesis
was put together for him to "defend." Most academics stayed away
from it. The "defense" was held at Amir Kabir University, and
awarded an "equivalent Ph.D. degree."
That was not the end of the fiasco. On
September 20, 2009, Declan Butler of Nature, perhaps the most
prestigious science journal in the world, asked me to compare
two scientific papers,
one published by Daneshjoo and his student, Majid Shahravi,
second one published by a Korean group.
Nature wanted to know whether Daneshjoo and
Shahravi had plagiarized the Korean paper. After reading the two
papers, I realized that not only had Daneshjoo and his student
copied about 70 percent of the text of their paper, word for
word, from the Korean piece, but that many of the purported
results were virtually identical. Some of their figures
precisely mirrored ones in the Korean paper, while others were
simply replots of the Koreans' results. Butler
publicized the story.
Nature identified similar copying in other
papers by Daneshjoo and Shahravi in a
paper in the Journal of Mechanical Science and Technology,
in the Taiwanese Journal of Mechanics (25, 117 ), and even
in the Iranian Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering Journal.
attributed it to a plot by "Zionist agents." No satisfactory
explanation was ever offered by Daneshjoo, who told the Majles
that he had not even read the papers on which his name appeared
as coauthor. All the foreign journals have retracted the papers.
Then there is Hamid Behbahani, minister of
roads and transportation, the man who asked Ahmadinejad's Ph.D.
dissertation committee to say salavaat and accept the thesis.
examined a paper, co-authored by him, Hassan Ziari, his
deputy and the head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways,
and Mohammed Khabiri, then an IUST Ph.D. candidate, that was
published in the Ukrainian journal Transport (XXI, 207 ).
Much of its text and results were copied from previously
published papers (see
These discoveries have damaged the
credibility of the Iranian scientists who have achieved
remarkable success under the most difficult conditions. A
recent survey published by New Scientist indicated that
scientific output has grown faster in Iran than in any other
country, 11 times faster than the world average. A group of
Iranian scientists, both inside and outside the country, has set
website to expose scientific frauds, identify low-quality
journals, and report on related issues.
Another member of Ahmadinejad's cabinet
guilty of intellectual fabrication is his nephew, Ali Akbar
Mehrabian, minister of industries and mines. In July 2009, an
appeals court upheld his conviction on charges of scientific
fraud. Farzan Salimi, a researcher in Tehran, had proposed and
developed an idea for an "earthquake saferoom" -- a residential
fortified space. He had presented his design to Tehran's
municipal Department of Crisis Management in 2003, when
Ahmadinejad was mayor. In a book published two years later,
Mehrabian and an associate, Mousa Mazloom, described the details
of the design and claimed it as their own invention.
Ahmadinejad's name was also on the book as a coauthor.
Mohammad Reza Rahimi, Ahmadinejad's first
vice president (the Iranian government has eight), claims to
have a Ph.D., though it is not clear in what field. It is widely
believed that his degree, like Kordan's, is fake. One thing is
for sure: He is a master of pleasing his masters; perhaps his
Ph.D. is in this area. At a ceremony in which Ahmadinejad was
present, Rahimi claimed that during a trip to Syria a man had
approached him and declared, "If God were to send a prophet
after Prophet Muhammad, it would be Mahmoud Ahmadinejad!" The
judiciary recently announced the discovery of a major case of
financial fraud involving "high government officials." There is
persistent speculation that the "high official" is Rahimi. It
has been reported that the judiciary chief,
Sadegh Larijani, phoned Ahmadinejad and asked him to fire
Rahimi, but was rebuffed.
Ahmadinejad's first minister of science,
research, and technology, Mohammad Mehdi Zahedi, who received
his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Kerman, was the
"mathematics genius" of the cabinet. Zahedi has always claimed
to be a member of the New York Academy of Sciences, which the
organization has flatly denied. In 2005, when he was introduced
to the Majles as a cabinet nominee, he
claimed to have been called "one of the most prominent
mathematicians of the century" by the American Mathematical
Society. As it turned out, he was simply a member of the Society
for a while. Zahedi has been dispatched to Malaysia as Iran's
The cases surveyed in this article represent
just the tip of the iceberg. Only when Iran is a true democracy
with a free press will we learn the full extent of the crimes,
corruption, and fraud perpetrated by the hardliners.