Some 350 Iranian volunteers have been waiting at Teheran's Mehrabad airport for a plane to fly them to Southern Lebanon.
Some 350 Iranian volunteers have been waiting at Teheran's Mehrabad airport for a plane to fly them to Southern Lebanon. They want to fight alongside Palestinian guerrillas against Israel. The advance party of a 1,000-strong Iranian volunteer force is being led by a maverick clergyman known to most Iranians as Ayatollah Ringo. His proper name is Sheikh Hojatoleslam Mohammad Montazeri and while he spent the night negotiating with airline officials his followers sang pro-Palestinian songs and chanted Islamic slogans.
SYNOPSIS: The volunteers were waiting because, according to an airline official, nobody had paid a forty one thousand dollar fee to charter a plane.
The Iranian airline--Air Iran--says it will not given Sheikh Montazeri a plane because members of the group do not have valid passports or permission to land at either of their two proposed destinations-Southern Lebanon or Syria. The airport departure hall is littered with Army-issue boots, rucksacks and bags. Those who managed to sleep were woken early for morning prayers on rugs spread out in the terminal.
A constant stream of lectures about the Palestinian cause and the Iranian revolution were kept up by group leaders. Sheikh Montazeri has said his operation is being funded by the ruling revolutionary council. But Iran Air officials say they have received no money from the council and do not except any.