The 316th Night of Memory – 1

Memoirs from captivity period by the Takfirists

Elnaz Darvishi
Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan


The 316th program of Night of Memory was held online in Aparat website on 27th of August 2020. In this show, "Mustafa Beidaghi", the captive freed from the hands of the Takfirists and "Brigadier General Ali Valizadeh", a Takhribchi or deminer during the imposed war retold their memoirs. Davoud Salehi was present as the host.

The first narrator of the 316th Night of Memory show is one of the 48 Iranians who traveled to Syria for pilgrimage on 4th of August 2012 corresponding to 15th of Ramadhan 1433 in the lunar calendar and were abducted by terrorist forces in the early hours of their entry into Syria, and returned to Iran after 168 days of captivity. In this program, Mustafa Beidaghi narrates part of the memories of his captivity by the Takfirists.

He starts his memoirs by saying:

We moved to Damascus on 14th of August 2012 corresponding to 15th of Ramadan. At the Damascus airport, we were first supposed to pay a pilgrimage to the Holy shrine of Hazrat Zainab (PBUH) and then move into the city of Damascus. There are several U-turns on the way from Zeinabia to the airport; The bus driver, who had previously colluded with the terrorists, stopped the bus at one of the U-turns and opened the doors. At this time, as I was sitting in the front row, I noticed that our bus was surrounded by several Haice cars with gunmen inside, and a number of these people got off and got on the bus.

The assailants started beating us from the very beginning, asking us to pull down the curtains and keep our heads down and hand over the mobile phones if anyone had them. All these conversations were translated by an Afghan translator named Abu Muhammad, who had been with us from the beginning as a translator and guide from the airport.

We were first transferred to the Jaramana area and finally to Beit Naim, a small town around Damascus. I was trying to read the signs to see where they were taking us. The bus stopped at the end of a dead end with farms on either side. They opened a door that looked like a parking lot door, and we got off the bus one by one and entered the compound. The Takfiri forces were standing there so that we had to pass through them, which looked like a tunnel. As we passed through the tunnel, they beat us with cables and bricks and everything in their hands. There was a building at the end of the tunnel that was our first residence during our captivity. A tall, square-shouldered, very rough black man had stood at the entrance to the building. We found out later that his name was Abu Adi who was a Saudi national. I had a "Ya Zeinab" plaque on my coat. Abu Aai took this plaque with an anger and looked, which meant that now we are at your service! After we entered, we were ordered to sit at a distance on the platforms around the hall. They beat us for about an hour or two; these early hours were very difficult for us mentally.

After they welcomed us warmly, they took everything that was with us from the watch, ring, belt, coat and shoes. They were so mean and contemptible that they started looting from the beginning and divided them among themselves. After this, they asked us to announce our names and those of our fathers. I thought they were doing this to match with passports; but after a few minutes, we realized that the story was something else and we were in the hands of the Takfirists; because they were sensitive to several names; These names were the holy names of Ali, Hussein and Mehdi. Each of the friends who had one of these names in their name or their fathers were slapped in the face 10 to 15 times more than others as soon as they were introduced. From that moment on, this story was associated for us exactly that today we were avenged for loving Imam Ali (PBUH) in the land of Levant.

In our group, there was a great Seyyed from the city of Urmia, who was sitting next to me. He asked me: "Why do these people behave like this ?!" At that moment, God did me a favour and this matter came to my mind, and I told him, "If anyone considers himself the inheritor of Hazrat Fatemeh Zahra (AS), these slaps are her inheritance." The conversation was whispered by friends and created a spark of hope, resistance and endurance among them. The name of Fatemeh gave us so much power from the beginning that till the day we were released no one lowered his or her face when slapped. From the very beginning, the name of Hazrat Seddiqeh Fatemeh Zahra became a code between us.

After hours of their savagery against us, one of them named Abu Hamza, who was the commander of the operation, asked us in a rude tone: "Who among you loves the Imam?" He rudely mentioned the name of Imam (Khomeini). Now imagine that after a few hours of being beaten and harassed, I testify to God that we all raised our hands together; This move created panic in them, who pointed all their weapons at us. They were terrified of the name of the Imam and the beliefs of the guys, and this was one of the manifestations of the first day of captivity.


Yadollah Fowqa Aidihem (Hand of God is above their hands)

During our captivity, we were divided into two or three groups, and during all this time I had moved to 7 cities and 14 houses, in some of which we were all together. They did not have a place like a prison to keep us; They often took us to places such as basements, warehouses, and once or twice to places for keeping the animals. From the very beginning, 24 of us were taken to a place called Abu Ghraib and transferred to a pen in the middle of the desert built for the sheep belonged to nomads during the summer. There we asked one of the Takfiris, who had a monotheistic religion and to whom we could speak a few words and get information, "Why did they bring us here?" "This is a place of torture for the Syrian officers who are at war with us, also we bring the prisoners we want to force them to confess as well as for torturing," he said.

During our stay in Abu Ghraib, we had very difficult days in terms of food and health; It was desert and very cold, and since we had no appliance to warm ourselves, we would sit behind each other in the midnight at about three o'clock in the morning to prevent the cold, using the heat of our bodies. On the seventh day of our stay in Abu Ghraib, a man named Abu al-Nasser al-Shamir, who was the commander of the Al-Baraa Battalion, came to make us confess through threatening, because they thought we were servicemen. When Abu al-Nasser arrived, he ordered us to sit on two knees and began to brag. He gave us five minutes to introduce the commanders who were among us. When one of our friends saw Abu al-Nasser talking like this with resentment, for changing the atmosphere said, "May God bless you and us." In response, Abu al-Nasser said a sentence that was very heavy for us: "Your praying is not granted, if it was granted, you would not be captured, you are the magi and infidels and you will not be blessed by God."

When Abu al-Nasser said this, it reminded me that 1400 years ago in the land of the Levant, what did the accursed Yazid say to the Hazrat Zainab and what did she answer? At that moment, a special condition was inspired inside me, I raised my hand with the help of Hazrat Zeinab, and with an Alawite resentment, this sentence was uttered on my tongue, " Yadollah Fowqa Aidihem". When I said this, Abu al-Nasser, who had been crushed in front of his forces, said in a Syrian accent: "Mashi, Mashi, minutes, minutes." At that moment, the Syrian planes flew over our heads and the Takfiris thought that they had come to bomb and dispersed out of fear. On the eighth night, because they did not feel safe, they transferred us to a new place in the city of Zamalka.


Velayat Ten-Day

We were kept for about fifty days in the town of Zamalka in a basement. As soon as we arrived, all the windows were welded with iron. After 19 days, the toilet well was full and our health condition became very bad. The only good thing about this situation was that the basement space was so miserable that they no longer came down to beat us. Then, we reached Eid al-Adha. One of them, who was a very vicious man, came down and said, "Hit the floor and find the wellhead so that we can provide equipment and empty the well." The children hit and found the wellhead, and with the help of the ax they gave us, we removed the wellhead, and after emptying some of the rubbish, he came and said, "This was your Eid-ul-Adha gift."

We were in this situation for twenty days, during which the guys contracted various diseases and skin and digestive problems. During all this time we were in that basement without any light and in absolute darkness, our daily ration was a candle that we lit after Maghrib and Isha prayers. From the night of Eid al-Adha to Eid al-Ghadir, which is called Velayat Ten-Day, we talked to friends and decided to celebrate for ourselves every night after the prayer and everyone who knew a hadith, a story and a poem about the dignity of the Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali (PBUH), utter them.

Our food during this period was one plate of cooked barley per day for five people and a bottle of water for drinking, ablution and purification. The conditions were very difficult. During the captivity, Mr. Mostafa Yadegari was in charge of preparation somehow. On the night of Eid al-Ghadir, after the ceremony we had hold for ourselves, he came with a bowl of water and some pieces of bread that he had collected during this time and said "I entertain from you with sherbets and sweets." He received the lovers of the Amir al-Mo'menin on the night of Eid al-Ghadir in that situation which was very desirable for us.


Mourning for Imam Hossain (PBUH) during captivity

When we were still in the basement, the month of Moharam arrived which had its own special beauties. We even were not allowed to talk to each other. We were not even allowed to talk to each other. Those days coincided with the bombing of Zamalka which led to the blackout of the area and they used an electric motor for lighting. The electric motor was placed at the entrance to the basement so that its noise and smoke disturbed us; but, thanks to God, we used that voice to mourn for Aba Abdullah Imam Hossain (PBUH). Perhaps you better understand the conditions of our days now despite this infamous pandemic (Corona) that for people who have been mourning for Aba Abdullah since childhood, they cannot lament for the chief of the martyrs as it should be.

We mourned in such a way in Moharam until we reached the time when 36 of us were separated and transferred to another place. I stayed there with eleven others who were older or sick. My illness started from the day I was taken to be tortured and pulled gunny on my head. During the torture, they tied my hands behind my back and put my feet on a chair and hit my soles with a cable. I started saying "Ya Allah" in a way that they got angry and inserted the same gunny with the plaster inside into my mouth with the help of a hose. This caused my breathing way to be closed and felt suffocation after a few minutes. There I lost consciousness and paralyzed for two months; So I stayed in that basement with other sick friends.


Seeking intercession to Hazrat Ali Asghar (AS) for Rowzeh tea

The fifth of the month of Safar and the martyrdom of the 3-year old Hazrat Roqayeh arrived. We learned about the date in this way that every night, two of us were taken to wash clothes or to clean the floor, and we understood the date from the calendars that were there. We continued the night prayers until one night when one of the friends said, "Do you remember that when we went to the Rowzeh (religious sermon), there was always something next to it? "I want to drink the Rowzeh tea." I said, "Do you miss for tea or the Rowzwh tea?" He cried loudly. I said, "Do you miss the Rowzeh tea? Let's ask for the tea in Tavassol (seeking intercession) tonight." That night, we sought intercession to Hazrat Ali Asghar (AS) and then to Bibi Roqayeh (AS) and said, "Dear sir, we want the Rowzeh tea." The mourning was finished and it was the time of forced labor and it was my turn that night. I went behind the door and saw a kettle in the guard's hand. I said, "Oh God, I do not have water here to wash the kettle. I came to get under it that he said, "It's hot." I took it by the hand and saw that it was heavy. At that moment, I had choked with emotion. I both wanted to believe and did not want to believe; He closed the door and I went back to the friends. When the guys saw me, they asked, "Mustafa, what has happened?" I said, "This is the Rowzeh tea that you wanted. Agha helped us." They brought us tea for several nights.


Khatm-e Quran (finishing recitation of holy Qur'an) and Ziyarat Ashura

From the very first days of captivity during Ramadan, we asked for the holy Qur'an, and they provided us with two volumes of the Qur'an. Thank God, during the captivity, everyone as much as possible recited two verses, or one page or several parts of the holy book, and we finished the recitation of the whole Qur'an every day. This time passed and we were taken to our last home and joined 36 other friends.

During their captivity, the friends had many honest dreams. Mr. Javadifar, who is from Neishabour had one of such dreams. He dreamt before the morning prayer that we had been released and our passports had been stamped with the Ziyarat Ashura of Aba Abdullah at the airport in Damascus. After he explained the dream to us, we decided to tell everyone who knows every part of the Ziyarat Ashura to write it on a piece of cardboard with a pencil that a friend had found in an encoded way, and we recited the Ziyarat Ashura from that day to 28th of the lunar month of Safar, and finally on the day of the martyrdom of Imam Mojtaba (PBUH) we were released.

Beidaghi ended his speech by saying this memory, " We were in a complete news boycott until two nights before our release when Abu al-Nasser al-Shamir came to visit us after a month. We also waited for the news and sat down. The weather was rainy and Abu al-Nasser had been wearing a raincoat and was very upset; This could be seen from the cigarette in his hand, as he smoked half a cigarette in one breath with a deep pack, indicating his mental conflict. The same friends who had told him in the first meeting that "may God bless you and us", repeated this sentence again, but this time Abu al-Nasser gave an answer that remained in my mind forever. Imagine an enemy who was now sitting in front of us after six months of severe torture and persecution, said, "Far, far away from us. If it reaches you close, very close. You are spiritual men, pray for us too." This person is the one who, on the thirty-eighth day of our captivity in Abu Ghraib, called us infidels and magi and said that your prayers would not be granted, now he wants us to pray for them. This person did not shy in front of us, but in front of the loving will of the Commander of the Faithful and the fourteen holy lights, and this is beauty!


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