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A Lone Cleric Is Loudly Defying Iran’s Leaders

A short midlevel cleric, with a neat white beard and a clergyman’s calm bearing, Mehdi Karroubi has watched from his home in Tehran in recent months as his aides have been arrested, his offices raided, his newspaper shut down. He himself has been threatened with arrest and, indirectly, the death penalty.

His response: Bring it on.

Once a second-tier opposition figure operating in the shadow of Mir Hossein Mousavi, his fellow challenger in Iran’s discredited presidential election last June, Karroubi has emerged in recent months as the last and most defiant opponent of the country’s leadership.

The authorities have dismissed as fabrications his accusations of official corruption, voting fraud and the torture and rape of detained protesters. A former confidant of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and a longtime conservative politician, he has lately been accused by the government of fomenting unrest and aiding Iran’s foreign enemies.

Four months after mass protests erupted in response to the dubious victory claims of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the opposition’s efforts have largely stalled in the face of unrelenting government pressure, arrests, long detentions, harsh sentences, censorship and a strategic refusal to compromise..

Pakistani Brigadier
Assassinated in Capital

Two assailants on a motorbike fired on a Pakistani army jeep in heavy rush-hour traffic Thursday morning, killing a brigadier and his driver, a security official said.

The assassination of the brigadier, Moinudin Ahmed, was believed to be the first targeted attack on a senior military officer in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, and also suggested a new tactic in the continuing war between the government and Islamist militants. Until now, the military has been able to move mostly freely through the capital.

The assailants fired with automatic weapons at the jeep, which was not bulletproof, and then disappeared into heavy traffic, according to witnesses. The attack took place around 9:30 a.m. in the G-11 neighborhood of the capital.

The attack appeared to be a direct reprisal against the army’s current offensive against militants in the rugged tribal region of South Waziristan.

Another soldier was injured in the attack, according to a military spokesman. The brigadier returned to Islamabad a few days ago from Sudan, where he was leading the Pakistani contingent attached to the United Nations peacekeeping force, according to an Islamabad police official. He was on his way to Rawalpindi when he was attacked.