Information on whether there are Revolutionary Guards aboard the government-owned Iran Air planes [IRN25342.E]

A representative of Shahrvand, a Persian newspaper published in Toronto, stated in a telephone interview that after a series of incidents in which Iranian planes were the target of hijackings and explosions in the early 1980s, the Iranian government decided to stop such incidents by enhancing security in its flights (31 Oct. 1996). Since that time, there have been at least two armed Revolutionary Guards (Pasdars) in civilian clothes on Iran Air flights (ibid.). The representative added that there should be security guards aboard other Iranian airlines' planes as well (ibid.).

A professor of political science specializing in Iranian affairs at the Royal Military College in Kingston stated there are at least two or three Revolutionary Guards in civilian clothes aboard all Iranian airliners, including those of Iran Air, and that their job is to prevent hijacking attempts (31 Oct. 1996). These guards usually sit close to the cockpit (ibid.). According to the professor, Revolutionary Guards have been on Iranian flights since the outbreak of a series of hijackings during the early years of the Islamic regime (ibid.).

A representative of the Foundation for Iranian Studies in Bethesda, Maryland, stated that there are security guards aboard Iran Air planes whose job is to prevent the planes from being hijacked (31 Oct. 1996).

The attached 19 September 1995 Reuters report refers to the existence of a special anti-hijacking unit of the Revolutionary Guards which was formed "after a rash of hijackings hit Iran's state-owned carrier Iran Air in the early years of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war." The report also refers to the thwarting of "about 70 hijacking attempts, including 11 in the sky, in the past decade" by the special unit.

The attached 26 January 1990 and 27 January 1990 Reuters reports provide information on the Revolutionary Guards aboard two Iranian airliners defusing hijacking attempts.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Foundation for Iranian Studies, Bethesda, Md. 31 October 1996. Telephone interview with representative.

Professor of political science specializing in Iranian affairs at the Royal Military College, Kingston. 31 October 1996. Telephone interview.

Shahrvand, Toronto. 31 October 1996. Telephone interview with representative.


Reuters. 9 September 1995. BC Cycle. "Iran Demands Israel Hand Over Hijacker, Plane." (NEXIS)

_____. 27 January 1990. BC Cycle. "Iran Calls Would-Be Hijackers U.S. Agents." (NEXIS)

_____. 26 January 1990. AM Cycle. "Iran Says Hijackers Wanted to Go To Iraq or Israel." (NEXIS)

_____. 26 January 1990. BC Cycle. "Reuters World News Highlights." (NEXIS)