Basij militia (Iran)

Country: Iran
Details of Formation: After the Islamic Revolution in 1979 Ayatollah Khomeyni mobilized volunteers to engage in civil defence operations and to fight in the Iran–Iraq War (1980-1988). His goal was to arm as many young people as possible to support the regular forces.
Details of Termination: --
Purpose: The government created the group to assist the regular forces to fight against internal and external threats after the Islamic Revolution. The volunteers fought along the front lines in the Iran-Iraq War. Now mainly young people are armed to support armed forces and to suppress political dissidents or to curb protests in the streets. In addition, the Basij is deployed along the borders to Afghanistan and Pakistan to combat external threats.
Organisation: In 2009 under President Ahmad, the Revolutionary Guard grew stronger and assumed formal control over the Basij. The group was founded by former Supreme Leader Khomeini and is now subordinate to Supreme Leader Khamenei. However, sources describe the militia as a rather loosely organized group controlled by local cleric leaders. (Wikipedia)
Weapons and Training: The militia receives training and also courses on ideology and religion from the state. Along with supplying the group with firearms, the state also offers them courses on weapons.
Size: The group has about 90,000 formal members and between 300,000 and 1,000,000 reservists that are mobilized whenever they are needed for specific operations. (Wikipedia, Amnesty International 2009)
Reason for Membership: The militia is said to be a volunteer force. There is no information on payments from the state. The Basij was created by Supreme Leader with the incentive to create an army with millions of members. (Wikipedia)
Treatment of Civilians: The Basij is reported to use excessive violence against political opponents. In joint operations with the Revolutionary Guard and the Armed Forces, they act as law enforcement agency and suppress all potential internal threats. The Iranian government views these internal threats as terrorist operations that are disturbing the public order; hence the militia’s violent behavior is accepted by the state. (Amnesty International 2009)
Other Information: BBC reports that in 2008 paramilitary reforms took place. This led to the Revolutionary Guard gaining stronger supervision powers over the Basij militia. Both groups however maintain separate missions: "Under the new structure, Basij forces are trained in Basij and are then placed under the control of the ground forces so that they can be organized. The new structure of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps will have no effect on Basij missions and will not result in a reduction of Basij missions. (BBC, July 9, 2008)
References: Amnesty International. 2009. “Iran: Stop using Basij militia to police demonstrations”.

Wikipedia. “Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution”