July 01, 2005

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Photo Debunked: Hostages Still Adament Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Was Involved (UPDATED)

UPDATE: Scroll down for updates.

Two days ago Iran Focus alleged that the photo below was of Iranian President Elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. We, of course, jumped right on the story.

Yesterday watching Hardball with Chris Matthews, one of the former hostages--I believe it was Don Sharer-- denied that the man in the photo above was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But he claimed that he was 100% sure that Ahmadinejad was one of his captors, but that the photo above was not of Ahmadinejad. He said that Ahmadinejad was only around occasionally and seemed to be a leader of some sort when he did come around.

Oxrant was the first that I know of to attempt to debunk this. I should have linked to it yesterday but I was busy being sick. Look at the photo comparison which he gives here. (Click image below for close-up)

It looks as if the critics may be right on this one. It should be noted, though, that noses can change over time. My father's, for instance, who broke his nose several times and it never looked the same. But having said that, Oxrant's comparison does seem compelling.

But wait....there's more. Oxrant notices some Freepers doing their homework here. The image compares recent photos of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to another person in the 1979 AP photos. Look at the man in the turtleneck, just to the right of the person circled above.

Were we simply looking at the wrong man in the photo? Go check out Oxen's other photo comparisons. Here's another page with more of the same photo comparisons.

CRITICAL UPDATE: Take this for what it's worth, but it certainly seems relevant. Times Online:

But today, an reformist newspaper in Tehran, Shargh, said that the Iranian students shown in the photograph were Ja’afar Zaker, a militant who went on to die in the Iran-Iraq war, and a student known only as Ranjbaran, who was later executed for alleged links to an extreme opposition group.

As for the American hostage shown in the photograph, The Times learnt yesterday that he is Jerry J. Miele, who was working at a communications officer at the Embassy in 1979. Reached at his home today in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania, Mr Miele, 66, declined to comment on the photograph but said: "I don't have anything to say about the new President of Iran, I don't want to cause any trouble."

Here is part of the transcript from Hardball that I just found:
ANDREA MITCHELL:.... We have taken that picture, a number of pictures, in fact, to a former FBI photo expert, Chris. And he says that there is a less than 50 percent chance that the person in the photograph [ed: the one we highlighted two days ago] is the person that is now the president of Iran....

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the—the question is, though—let me ask you to take a look at the picture again. This is the president-elect. We‘re going to show you a picture of the president-elect of Iran. There he is, the man on the right [ed: recent photo of Ahmadinejad].

The man on the left [ed: old AP photo that we highlighted] in the monitor you‘re looking at, Mr. Sharer, is someone who has been mentioned as someone who was close to you, who was one of the captors. It‘s really not important. But does the man on the left look like the man on the right you? And is the man on the left the man you remember as well?

SHARER: Yes. The man on the right [Ed: recent photo of Ahmadinejad] is the one that I saw that reminded me of it, and just about the same beard.


SHARER: Had a little half-inch, quarter-inch growth.

MATTHEWS: I know what you mean.


SHARER: And the man on the left [ed: the old AP photo that we highlighted], there‘s too much facial hair to really look at.

So, it seems that even the person that we initially believed was Ahmadinejad in the 1979 AP photo was not him. However, the number of former hostages that say they recognize Ahmadinejad has gone from five to six.

San Francisco Gate :

Six former American hostages have said they recognized Ahmadinejad.

"As soon as I saw the face, it rang a lot of bells to me," Don Sharer of Bedford, Ind., told CNN. The former naval attache at the Tehran embassy said he was 99 percent sure of his identification. "When you're placed in a life- threatening situation of that nature, you just remember those things," he said.

Another former hostage, William J. Daugherty, a former CIA officer who now lives in Savannah, Ga., said he remembered Ahmadinejad "acting in a supervisory or leadership capacity" during the early weeks of his captivity.

Retired Col. David Roeder, 66, who was deputy Air Force attache at the embassy in 1979, has told reporters that Ahmadinejad watched as interrogators threatened to kidnap Roeder's handicapped son in the United States and mutilate him "if I didn't start to cooperate."

Daughtery, the sixth to make the allegations against Ahmadinejad, is a political science professor at AASU. WSAV:
In 1979, Dr. Daugherty was a young CIA agent. He was stationed in Tehran, the Iranian capital, when he and dozens of other Americans were captured and held for over a year. 25 years later, Dr. Daugherty says a familiar face from that time is now running Iran.

Last week Iranians picked a new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Daugherty says he's sure he was one of his captors.

"This is him, he's clearly- uh you can see he's trying very hard to look menacing and threatening here, here he's looking much more relaxed but you see the similarities in the nose, in the chin, the hair line, the eyebrows."

Dr. Daugherty is a professor at AASU here in Savannah now, teaching political science. He says he's not surprised the new president of Iran is one of his former captors. He says others have held positions in the Iranian government.

The Iranian government says these men are not the same person, but Dr. Daugherty says he knows they are.

"When somebody takes your liberty, puts your life in danger, causes your family great agony and humiliates your country, you don't forget who that person is."

So, who is it that Daughtery is identifying in the old AP photo? It may be that he is wrong about the photo, but right about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad being involved. Remember, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's official biography claims that he was a founder and leader of the group that executed the embassy takeover, although it also claims he opposed the hostage taking. Several unofficial biographies, though, say that not only was he for taking the US embassy, but that he wanted to also take the Soviet embassy as well.

UPDATE: Bryan Williams compares terrorists to Founding Father's. Sure Bryan, the British could have called the Founding Father's terrorists, just like Pakistanis like to call Osama bin Laden a 'freedom fighter' and Michael Jackson called Lisa Marie 'wife'.

UPDATE II: It gets worse, much worse. In our original post we noted that several unofficial biographies of Ahmadinejad claimed he was directly involved with murdering Iranians at home and abroad. Check out this from Dafydd over at Captain Ed's who found more from Global Security:

With the formation of the elite Qods (Jerusalem) Force of the IRGC, Ahmadinejad became one of its senior commanders. He directed assassinations in the Middle East and Europe, including the assassination of Iranian Kurdish leader Abdorrahman Qassemlou, who was shot dead by senior officers of the Revolutionary Guards in a Vienna flat in July 1989. Ahmadinejad was a key planner of the attack. He was reported to have been involved in planning an attempt on the life of Salman Rushdie....

Ahmadinejad, an unabashed conservative, resurrected the fervor of the 1979 Islamic Revolution during the campaign by saying Iran "did not have a revolution in order to have democracy, but to have an Islamic government." Ahmadinejad had a bloody background. He was responsible for the execution of hundreds of dissidents after the war.

So, even if we do not have the photographic evidence that we once though, this man's background is questionable at best and murderous at worst. The best case scenario--that Ahmadinejad's denials of involvement in and opposition to the 444 day hostage ordeal turn out to be true--still leave us with a militant fascist Islamists with nuclear ambitions!

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 10:54 AM | Comments |