Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has replaced the head of the feared Basij militia with a senior military officer under UN sanctions for links to the country's ballistic missile program, state media reported Monday.
The Basij militia, who operate in plain clothes and often armed with sticks and other crude weapons, were blamed for much of the violence against crowds protesting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed June 12 re-election.
According to the report, Khamenei replaced Basij commander Hossein Taeb on Sunday with Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi, a prominent figure in the elite Revolutionary Guard military force who is close to Khamenei, and announced two other new military appointments.
Naqdi is one of Iran's top military figures and is among those subject to UN Security Council sanctions. A Security Council resolution passed in March 2008 says he worked to get around UN sanctions. It also identifies him as a person linked to Iran's alleged proliferation of sensitive nuclear activities or development of nuclear weapon delivery systems.