Who is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (rhymes with Jihad), the new president of Iran? The Los Angeles Times reports: “U.S. investigators have concluded that Iranian president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not the glowering Islamic militant seen escorting an American hostage in a 1979 photograph that was widely publicized this week, officials said Friday.” How so? The Times quotes one “official” throughout the story summarizing the work of “investigators.” The results of the investigation so far:
A U.S. official familiar with the investigation of Ahmadinejad’s role said that analysts had found “serious discrepancies” between the figure in the 1979 photo and other images of the Iranian president-elect. The discrepancies included differences in facial structure and features, the official said.
In the New York Times, Michael Slackman has interviewed “friends, neighbors and supporters” of the new president. Amazingly enough, Slackman reports, they “describe the diminutive, bearded man as humble and caring.”
On the other hand, in an AP story based on interviews Wednesday, four former hostages beg to disagree (on both his lack of involvement and his kindness):
“This is the guy. There’s no question about it,” said former hostage Chuck Scott, a retired Army colonel who lives in Jonesboro, Ga. “You could make him a blond and shave his whiskers, put him in a zoot suit and I’d still spot him.”
Scott and former hostages David Roeder, William J. Daugherty and Don A. Sharer told The Associated Press on Wednesday they have no doubt Ahmadinejad, 49, was one of the hostage-takers. A fifth ex-hostage, Kevin Hermening, said he reached the same conclusion after looking at photos.
This morning the Washington Times carries another AP story with a Vienna dateline reporting that “Austrian authorities have classified documents suggesting that Iran’s president-elect may have played a key role in the 1989 execution-style slayings of an Iranian Kurdish leader and two associates in Vienna, a newspaper reported Saturday.” See also Dafydd ab Hugh’s post at Captain’s Quarters (linked by John last night): “That ain’t the half of it.” The Jawa Report provides an updated consideration of the photographic evidence here.