Who is he: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the 6th President of the Islamic Republic of Iran. His academic training was in civil engineering, with a Ph.D. in transportation engineering and planning. Born to an economically modest rural family, he is said to continue a luxury-sparse lifestyle although known as a rather extravagant speaker.
In the West, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been widely demonized and various quotes of his, or pieces thereof, have been disseminated through the corporate media. In perhaps the most infamous example of this, media reported Ahmadinejad said he wished to "wipe Israel off the map." It later emerged that Ahmadinejad had been mistranslated and that this is in fact not what he had said.
As President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has a mixed record. He is seen as personally pious and even ascetic. Yet his last presidential campaign was controversial and marred with accusations of ballot stuffing. The results of the election led to protests, though Iranian officials accuse the US of being behind them. Nonetheless, there is obviously some tension between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the country's clerics. In fact, opposition parties and other significant Iranian politicians continue to criticize Ahmadinejad for various perceived lapses.
Background: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was born October 28, 1956, in a village called Aradan in the Semnan Province of Iran, the fourth of seven children of an economically modest family. Ahmedinejad's mother had been given the honorary title of Sayyid, indicating direct bloodline descendant of the prophet Muhammad. Ahmejinedad's family moved to Tehran when he was one year old. While a student, prior to the Islamic Revolution, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad engaged in political activities, attending religious and political meetings. With the victory of the Islamic Revolution, Ahmadinejad became a founder and member of the Islamic Association of Students at the Iran University of Science and Technology.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad started his undergraduate education at that university in 1976, eventually earning a M.S. in 1986, joined the faculty in 1987 and finally earned a Ph.D. in transportation engineering and planning in 1997.
During Saddam Hussein's war against Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was actively present as either a member of the volunteer forces (Basij) in various battlefronts particularly in the war engineering division, or as a member of the Revolutionary Guards in their intelligence and security apparatus. Reports depend on who is reporting.
There has also been speculation that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was among the students who took over the US embassy in 1980 in an action some believe was inspired or led by US intelligence. This speculation is tied to a larger perspective that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was active in Iran's intelligence community and may have played a secret role there for years.
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