The following photo shows a group of university students in their mid-twenties relaxing in a dormitory room at Tehran's Elm-o-Sanat (Science and Technology) University, circa early 1980s.
On the extreme left of the photo you can see Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an engineering student, leaning back with a smirk on his face and sporting a chin-curtain beard. Fifth from the left is the bearded Mojtaba Samareh Hashemi, currently his senior adviser and a key figure in his political life.
It is hard not to think of what was going through those young minds back then. Could the young Ahmadinejad imagine that such university dorm rooms would be devastated by armed goons and security forces, the students beaten to a pulp, a few decades later during his presidency?
Samareh Hashemi is considered to be a very influential political figure in the Islamic Republic due to the patronage of arch-conservative cleric Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, his ties to the Basij and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, his family affiliations (he is the nephew of the late Prime Minister Mohammad Javad Bahonar and the current Deputy Speaker Mohammad Reza Bahonar) and his symbiotic relationship with his childhood friend Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Newsweek called him an Iranian Karl Rove in its May 23, 2009 issue, referring to the architect of George Bush's ascension to the presidency. Last year, he resigned from his post as senior presidential adviser to become the head of Ahmadinejad's re-election campaign. He is believed to have been behind Ahmadinejad's letters to President George Bush and Chancellor Angela Merkel. Ahmadinejad's recent letter to President Barack Obama coincidentally was sent after Samareh Hashemi's reinstatement within the president's inner circle a few months ago.
Here is a more recent photo of Samareh Hashemi and Ahmadinejad.
And to complete this walk down memory lane, here's the reaction of students at Ahmadinejad and Samareh Hashemi's alma mater, Tehran's Elm-o-Sanat University which has become a hotbed of dissent, on April 13, 2010, when Samareh Hashemi tried to give a speech on the nuclear issue. The students walked out and began singing the protest anthem 'Yareh Dabestaniyeh Man':
As an addendum to this post and to continue the debate launched in the comments below, I'm posting the photo referred to by Mark Pyruz, purportedly of Ahmadinejad during the Iran-Iraq War, and some photos of Ali Sayyad Shirazi in a separate post, which you can go to by clicking here.